A Dad and His Daughter's Purse in the Electrical Department at Home Depot

Ordinary day-to-day occurrences remind me of how amusing male-female interactions can be when we pay attention to them, and have the gallows humor to point them out and make light of their significance. The most negligible things can make hilarious moments or lifetime memories. Oh but watch out! When you try to make fun of this stuff, you could be subjected to curses from the crowd that says, "How dare you make fun! How dare you stereotype!"

A short time ago, I recalled a funny story — from five years back — that centers on a purse. I had just undergone a dreadful shoulder joint reconstruction, and my folks flew into town to take care of me for two weeks. My Mom and Dad, bless them, now almost eighty-years-old, were angels. I was post-surgery, in a total zombie state (thank you Demerol), wearing this 2-piece, plastic, body armor suit — an immobilizer — from the waist up, with my right side tied down and completely stock-still for two weeks. Mom and Dad were devoted to taking care of their little girl, doing everything for me. My Dad had to resurrect the parental taxi service once I started becoming mobile enough to actually leave the house, though still not able to drive on my own.

So we would run errands together, go shopping, etc., leaving Mom at home because she couldn’t walk too far. With one shoulder out of commission, and the other one awaiting the same reconstruction procedure, I had no way of carrying a purse on either shoulder. Thus Dad did that for me. Now wait — my Dad is an old-school, old-world gentleman in every sense of the word, who always looked like a movie star, with hair resembling Ronald Reagan’s, and a perfectly-straight posture to boot. At 6′ and 200+ lbs., he’s the burly, flannel-shirted lumberjack type, with forearms the diameter of a telephone pole. He’s built like a bull from the waist up.

Dad lets me know he’s not going to let me carry my own purse because I shouldn’t be lugging anything around right now. Accordingly, he will carry it. Uh huh. I pictured Dad carrying that thing and said, “No Dad, that’s alright, I can handle it,” knowing it might kill him to be seen carting my purse around Sam’s Club for an hour, and then Home Depot after that.

So Dad overrules me and takes my purse — a ritzy, gold-trimmed, feminine-as-all-heck, Coach, leather purse. As we cruise along in Sam’s Club, I’m watching him switch the purse to various positions, looking for the best way to clutch this ladylike purse in public — on his arm, in his hands, clutched like a watermelon, and every position possible. I watched carefully; he was clearly self-conscious, but, of course, not a single complaint would come from him. We got to Home Depot, and again, he took my purse. We were going through the electrical department, ‘cuz Dad was going to update my kitchen electric while he was here babysitting me. I started parading up and down aisles at breakneck speed, as youth will have it, and Dad fell off the back, purse in hand, all alone, circling the store with that dang thing.

When I finally caught up to him, his face appeared to reflect a mortified embarrassment, and I realized that he had been walking through Home Depot alone, carrying this purse for at least several minutes. I said “Dad, I can carry it.” And I truly wanted to relieve my poor Dad of his purse duty. “No, no, you can’t bear any weight, so just let it be,” he growled. He knew what I was up to, and wasn’t going to give in. After that, he barked, “Walk slower. Your old man isn’t as fast as he used to be.” I figured that was a hint that meant “I was seen alone with your purse, and don’t want to let that happen again,” so I obliged.

This went on for several days, with Dad and my purse, as we shopped each day, with him carrying it for me. I felt terrible knowing he felt kinda funny, you know, being from the macho old school and all. Lumberjacks and Bulls just don’t carry purses.

So one day, I figured out how to trip him up, you know, pull one over on him — without him knowing. I did that when I was a teenager, drinking from his scotch, Canadian whiskey, and wine bottles, and filling them back up to the same level, with water, so he "wouldn’t notice" anything was missing. Kids are clueless that Dads know when their good whiskey and wine has been watered down twelve different times. It wasn’t until I was thirty years old that Dad told me he didn’t appreciate drinking Cutty Sark at an 80-to-20 water-to-Scotch ratio. Oops. I always thought my cover up to be brilliant.

At any rate, we were headed back to Home Depot again, and I wanted to save him from yet another "electrical department moment." I dug up an old fanny pack from the basement — circa-1970s, with a brown, sude patchwork design, and repulsive to boot. Did I really wear that once?! The next time we went shopping, I put my wallet and phone in the fanny pack and said, “Oh really Dad, it will be easier for me to carry this. I like to wear fanny packs.” When he left the room, my mother was chuckling her butt off, saying, “He looks happier, already, knowing he’s at least getting rid of the purse….”

Is there anything Dads won’t do? Dads will go to the end of the earth for you. Bless ’em. And in return, a daughter will wear a hideous, 1970s-era fanny pack to save a father from enduring a few funny stares from his peers at Home Depot.