Recently, I read about a daughter and mother banned from a father-daughter dance in MO. A protest party was thrown for the little girl to make her feel better. As a kid my Mom took me to a similar type of dance. but instead of getting a party after, I got traumatized.
It was the early 90’s and as Valentines Day approached, the local radio station 92 Moose was heavily advertising a Valentines Day, father-daughter dance. All the girls at school were talking about going, and what dresses they were going to wear, but there was a major reason I couldn’t join in on the fun.
I grew up never knowing who my Dad was. It was one of those touchy, off the table topics that no one really talked about. Once, my older sister opened a cereal box that had a fingerprint test game to tell you if you were an alien or not. I took it and she started screaming that I was officially an alien who had been adopted. I started crying and my Mom had to calm me down by telling me I wasn’t an adopted alien.
As I got older, in a Maine town of basic, small minded people I certainly felt more and more like an alien who didn’t belong there.
As this Valentines Day dance drew closer, my Mom started conspiring with another single Mom who lived down the hall. I didn’t know the woman very well, but I remember that she still had that six years after the trend, 80’s teased bangs thing happening. Her daughter was the same age I was and in my classes, but we weren’t friends.
One day after school my Mom told me she had a surprise for me. We were going to go to the father-daughter dance, along with the neighbor and her daughter! My Mom was one of the few people in my town not to have a drivers license or car, so just being able to get to a place was a big deal. I was young enough to be excited to go to the dance, but old enough to know that it seemed like a stupid idea. I was sure I would be made fun of, but guessed to them this was some kind of single Mom protest. Why should their daughters be left out? Occupy father-daughter dance! #chicksnotdicks or something.
I was always a daydreamer, so for the next week I imagined what it would be like to go to a father daughter dance with no father. I had fantasies of my Dad showing up to rescue me. He looked like Michael Caine-mad classy, and he would know who I was just by looking at me. Then he would swing me around the dance floor Cinderella style and we would live happily ever after.
On the day of the dance, I got all dressed up and we got ready to head out with the neighbors. I was surprised that when we got to the car, a big dude was in the drivers seat. The apparent single Mom power protest was no longer, because trashy neighbor was bringing her tattoo covered winner boyfriend. I guess my Mom knew he was going because she didn’t seem surprised. We sat in the car while all the adults smoked a cigarette before we took off.
When we arrived at the dance there were lot’s of red and pink hearts, a big dj booth, mood lighting and tables all around. In her anti-social fashion, my mother suggested we sit in the batch of empty tables toward the far right of the room. The girl with me took off to dance with her Mom’s boyfriend, so I sat and quietly drank my Diet Pepsi. I already didn’t blend in as the only girl with no Dad, and now I stuck out like a sore thumb. My Mom kept trying to get me to dance with her, but I was mortified and refused.
There were some raffles and contests throughout the dance, but I lost them all and didn’t take home any prizes or chocolate filled hearts. At the end of the night the DJ announced it was time for a slow dance. The lights got dim and all the Dad’s led their little girls out onto the dance floor. I looked out from my empty table and saw many of them dancing with there feet on top of their Dad’s feet. Even as an adult that memory of the dancing feet is vividly embedded in my brain. It was at that moment that I realised I would never have anybody’s feet to dance on, and that my Dad wasn’t going to show up to rescue me. For the rest of my life I would always be the fatherless daughter, wishing I could join the dance.