Friday, July 11, 2008


Embarrassment is never much fun, especially when you’re a teenager. In fact, during pubescence you expend enormous amounts of energy trying to avoid being embarrassed. Unfortunately, if you’re a teenager with a father like mine, avoiding embarrassment is impossible.

One day, my father accompanied me to the mall. I don’t remember why we were there, but what I do remember is that I was absolutely mortified that I had to be at the mall with, of all people, my dad. It was an unforgivable faux pas to be seen with a parent at a hotspot where teenagers could (normally) mingle without adult interference.

And so, I decided to pretend that he wasn’t my father, stealthily lengthening my stride so that I could walk several yards ahead of him. Proud that I could maintain my adolescent dignity, I strode to the escalator that carried me to the next level, my dad far behind.

I reached the top and continued walking, focused on reaching our destination without fatherly interference. But then, I heard a ruckus behind me--a huge sound like the thumping of an uncoordinated elephant. And a voice--a horrible, plaintive voice . . .

“Suuuuusssssaaaaannnn! Ohhhhh, Suuuuuuuusan! Your poor old father fell off the escalator. Susan, Suuuuuussssan Day!!!!!”

I stopped in my tracks, blushing furiously. As I turned, I could see the triumph in his eyes. My father had trumped my insolence by tripping purposefully (and loudly) off the moving staircase. I waited in brooding silence as he ambled toward me, grinning. No words were spoken, but the lesson was very clear: “Spurn me and I will single-handedly humiliate you.”

Never again did I try to “lose” my dad. No, I always stuck close by because, as shameful as it was (in my mind) to be with him, it was far, far worse to leave him behind.

1 comment:

Al said...

I understand. I felt the same way going with my Mom to the -then new- (1977) Hulen Mall in Fort Worth. Adventures at Winrock perhaps? There is an Apple Store nearby now on Louisiana.