Go Ask Daddy About Gender Roles, Self-Tickling Ivories and Grandpa’s Service to the Nation


photo credit: Abreisefertig via photopin (license)
photo credit: Abreisefertig via photopin (license)

Just the other night, I implored the boys I coach to “play like girls.”

GAD GRAPHIC“Wah Wah WAH!!!” one boy responded immediately. It’s not what I meant. I meant they should not fall to the turf every time the ball hits them at more than .25 MPH. That they should lift up their teammates when they make mistakes.That they should fight like hell, whether they’re up 8-3 or down 8-3.

It was an accidental commentary on the condition of gender in 2015.

This is the first boys’ team I’ve coached. It’s always been girls or coed. I have lofty expectations for the lads. I need them to channel their inner Carly Lloyds and Abby Wambach. I need them to keep like Hope and sweep like JJ.

1. Can girls propose?

photo credit: DSC_0131 - Version 3 via photopin (license)
photo credit: DSC_0131 – Version 3 via photopin (license)

Girls can run, pass, kick, run for office, serve as judge and become champs.

Girls can take the boys’ soccer ball and beat them with it, then go home and drink chocolate milk, like Kelley O’Hara.

But now, even in 2015, it’s rare for a woman to propose. It’s considered the man’s job. It’s a phenomenon called benevolent sexism, and it casts a very broad swath over male behavior.

At work, if I’m in a crowded conference room when a woman comes in, the training my dad gave me tells me to stand up and offer it to her. I’ll hold a door for a woman and let her go first; if it’s a guy coming, I’ll just hold it for him to take. And I won’t stop doing it, either.

So today, mostly it’s the guys doing the proposing. If it’s that important in society for that to change, it will. Until then … take my seat, I insist.

2. Why didn’t our cats have kittens?

our catsDespite them being siblings, and isolated from outside suitors, our cats were also spayed and neutered.

Plus, four was plenty. When they fit into the sink all together, they’re cute. When they struggle to clean themselves after a trip to the litterbox, they’re much less than cute. It’s hard to believe that 13 years ago, they were four pathetic fur balls on the side of the road I rescued from hungry owls.

Now, we’re down to two.

3. How does that piano work in McDonald’s at Southpark?

photo credit: Piano via photopin (license)
photo credit: Piano via photopin (license)

Like a double-decker bus in London or the two-story Wendy’s in Boone, the McDonald’s at Southpark is that place kids love to go.

Not only can you sit upstairs in a McDonald’s – a stinking McDonald’s! – there’s a magical piano in the lobby that plays by itself. It’s called a player piano. Self-playing instruments have been around since the second century. That’s like, the last time the oakland raiders made the playoffs.

How does it work? Well, a player piano has a pneumatic stack. The pneumatic stack …

Oh hell, girls. It’s magic. Check it out here.

4. Do cigarettes come in round tin containers?

photo credit: Sullivan Powell of Burlington Arcade - tobacco tins 1970s via photopin (license)
photo credit: Sullivan Powell of Burlington Arcade – tobacco tins 1970s via photopin (license)

No, but what if cigarettes were ring-shaped, so smokers couldn’t ever find the end to light up and maybe they’d never light up?

You’re right. They’d still buy those stinky vapor cigs. What you found, Grace, was a tobacco container. Tobacco sellers first started to print on tin in 1875. I found a Red Indian roly poly brownie tobacco tin, circa 1912, with a top bid of $312! That’s roughly the cost of a box of cigarettes today.

I’ve never smoked, but I did try something called Skoal Bandits. They were nasty little pouches of tobacco that you stuck between your cheek and gum. We thought we were badass kids (maybe 13? 14?) sucking on tobacco pouches and playing football, until we got a little green around the gills.

I spit mine out when I saw Scott Francis loose his lunch in the neighbor’s hedges.

5. What war was grandpa in?

photo credit: Men of H Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, move along rice paddy dikes in pursuit of the Viet Cong: 12/10/1965 via photopin (license)
photo credit: Men of H Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, move along rice paddy dikes in pursuit of the Viet Cong: 12/10/1965 via photopin (license)

Your grandfather served in the Vietnam War, driving cargo planes into hostile territory.

My dad got drafted – but never served. It’s a cool story.

Dad said he received a draft notice by mail. He was to report to the train station in town at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. My dad packed a duffle and rode with his dad to report for service. When the officer called out all names to board, my dad’s wasn’t included.

“You’re not on the list,” he told my dad. “Come back next week, same time.”

So, dad did.

Again, all the draftees got called, one at a time, except for my dad.

“You’re not on the list,” the officer told my dad.

“Come back again next week, same time.”

The hell I will, my dad thought. You can come get me if you want me that bad.

They never did.

That was kind of the first chapter in my story, too, I guess.

war quote

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39 Replies to “Go Ask Daddy About Gender Roles, Self-Tickling Ivories and Grandpa’s Service to the Nation”

  1. My dad was also drafted for Vietnam, but had gotten both his ankles broken during basic training and was honorably discharged. But still just glad that mine also never actually had to serve over there, especially after I took a class in college learning more about this war or police state as it became known as. But still loved all your answers again this week, especially your commentary about boys versus girls as a coach.

    1. What a twist of fate for your father, Janine. I also took a course on the war, and history has proven what a mess it really was.

      It’ll be an interesting season of trying to get the boys to “girl up!”

  2. LOL just tell the boys, “suck it up princess.” Let the boys play a ‘friendly’ against the girls and let them see just how tough the girls are 🙂
    I had my first and only puff of a cigarette at age 10. We had a poultry farm and had a local teenager come in to help when my dad was sick. I begged him for a puff on his cigarette and he was terrified that “Mr Walter” would find out, but he let me anyway. It was disgusting.
    My ex’s name came up in the draft. It was a terrible time for everyone. He came back changed in ways that would never heal.

    1. That might be an insult to princesses, Lyn. Did you see the link I posted recently of a girls vs. boys match that taught one side a valuable lesson?

      You must have been quite convincing for that boy to take a chance on you! Of course, we boys are so impressionable.

      The thing about Vietnam is that the men who came back maybe weren’t any more lucky than the ones who didn’t.

  3. Girl athletes are a different breed – I teach kids (8th grade) and in a classroom of thirty kids – 15 girls and 15 boys I can always pick out the boy athletes. the girl athletes are more difficult to find. Girls will let you coach them (at least most will) but boys need more convincing. It’s always a good idea to open a door for a woman, but i really I really like it when they say ‘thank you.’ I tried cigarettes – wasn’t a good idea and used smokeless for a while, but i eventually gave it up. Somethings you just have to learn the hard way. Have a wonderful weekend.

    1. What makes the girl athlete less visible to you? I think girls are less set in their ways, maybe? I don’t know. Beyond holding doors for women, I also think young people should concede seats to older people if there’s a shortage.

      We went to a school event that lasted more than an hour a while back. The kids took up the desks and weren’t paying attention anyway, and a lot of old folk (like me) had to stand the entire time. as a parent, I’d want my kid to yield in that situation. What do you think, Clay?

      Grace just asked me if I was ever a pothead! That’ll be an interesting answer. Or maybe not, because I’ve never smoked!

      1. Not invisible, per se – boys talk, girls do. Boy athletes are much more vocal about their sport and sports. Girl athletes don’t say a word about sports. My second year of teaching I had 151 students – 5 classes. There were a lot of boy athletes in that group – several knew they didn’t need to work because they were going to go pro in a sport. To my knowledge, few went further than college and many didn’t play a varsity sport. In that group of kids there was a girl – hockey player, didn;t say a word about it. Has two Olympic silver medals in her trophy case – and a gold medal from this year’s world championships. I never would have known.

        As for sitting or standing – it’s an enigma to me. I see it happen all of the time – at scouts dinner is served and scouts go last – guests, adults leaders, then scouts. But only a few boys go into scouting. It has to be taught – service to others builds leadership. I am avoiding that last question – it was a far different world when we were younger.

      2. I wonder if the gender difference in how athletes carry themselves at a young age has something to do with visibility.

        As boys, we all thought we’d be Roger Staubach or Joe Montana or Tom Brady, depending on your era. Young girls, though, for the most part, have seen the biggest stage as the next one they’re going to play on. It’s a closer vision.

        I wonder also if the rise of the U.S. women’s basketball and soccer teams will change any of that, add some bravado to young girls who now have pro leagues to dream about.

  4. “Come an get me…” I like that! Good thing his name never made it on the list!

    Is there a street piano in your city? It doesn’t play automatically, passerbys have to actually sit down an play. I think it’s the coolest thing.

    1. He didn’t want to tempt fate again! If they wanted him, they knew where he lived. Way out in the country.

      I don’t know of any street pianos here. But if there was one in Philadelphia, someone might kick it to pieces.

  5. Magic piano… A perfectly legit explanation. Those pianos are pretty cool, though. The even cooler ones let you plug headphones into them so you don’t have to hear others practice the same songs day in and day out! 🙂

    1. I didn’t know that. And yes, magic was a better explanation than breaking down the diagram I found last night.

      Consider it the equivalent of Indiana Jones shooting that ninja guy instead of dueling him.

      One complaint out of the piano: It was really loud and played the same songs over and over. I contemplating unplugging it last time we visited.

  6. Haha, I think technically I proposed! Though it was more like, “Hey, we should get married.” He said, “Yep, we should do that.” We were young and tipsy at a nightclub, but here we still are. 😉

  7. My Dad was never in any war, he never even thought of the military. My grandfathers, to my knowledge never were either. I grew up only watching military movies, never experiencing anything like that…. UNTIL I married my husband. He military – navy! But he’s never (to my knowledge) been in any wars. I think he has but it’s never been confirmed nor denied.

    I would worry too much.

    The year I met my husband he was on medical leave because he had dislocated his shoulder and put on a volunteer event called Tall Ships. They sail old sail boats up and down the West Coast. If he hadn’t of dislocated his shoulder, we would have never met, never got married, never had our kid(s). I always say to him how happy I am he was a silly man, trying to show off and dislocated his shoulder.

    1. Wow. Have you ever blogged about this? If so, give us the link! It’s incredible the role circumstance plays in our fate – a red light, a missed bus, a dislocated shoulder …

  8. What a perfect coach you are, CD. You’ve taught girls and have boys now. So you can finesse the finer gifts and natural abilities the boys have while teaching the secrets that the girls hold; the gifts boys don’t possess!!! What a lethal combination. Boys toughness and straight forward approach with the girls endurance and mental and strategic athletic magic!!! You might be coaching the next generations super-athletes!!! 😉

    1. FAR from perfect, Inion. I’m learning, though. It would be cool to combine what gifts a boy and a girl have on the soccer pitch – but with the girls, it feels like they have both sets of skills already!

  9. My father got his doctor to say he was too anxious to go to Vietnam.

    You know what I think, knowing what I know now about me and maybe him? I don’t think it was a stretch for the doctor to write that note, I dare say.

  10. Chivalry is a code of respect, and it should never be cast aside. having said that, a woman has the responsibility to have a man continue to treat her differently from the guys. And we should continue that in teaching our kids and relatives to respect not only themselves, but others. If we don’t respect ourselves, we don’t have the capacity to respect others.

    Too bad for the guys out there who can’t keep up, but I expect to be treated as a lady.

      1. True. When you rise for an elder, it is out of respect for them. They earned it by being older and wiser. Same kind of thing. But appreciation is always a good feeling, given or received!

  11. I’ve been going through all the seasons of Gilmore Girls recently on Netflix, and one of lead female characters proposes to one of the lead male characters on the show. It’s interesting because when everyone in the show finds out the woman proposed to the man, they just assume it’s all wrong and the man automatically becomes less manly because of it. You bring up a really interesting point, though. What is wrong with women proposing, after all?

    I also love your Vietnam story, too. What an incredibly complex time in history. When I think of Vietnam, I don’t even know where to begin. It was such a lengthy war, and yet by the time I was born, it had already been finished for almost two decades. Vietnam seems so long ago to me, yet there are so many people alive today that were incredibly affected by it.

    1. Women proposing makes society squirm a little. The girls and I saw a show recently that pranked men. A beautiful young woman would strike up conversation and propose, on one knee and everything.

      Most men recoiled a bit. one insisted on getting on HIS knee to propose, i guess to put the universe back on its axis?

      I imagine the wars in the gulf will have similar historical and personal impacts on us as the Vietnam War did. It could have prevented me or my daughters from even existing, or for us to be in this blog space together at all.

  12. I am lucky enough to have raised on gentleman, and I am still working on the other, but he does quite nicely. Wow, that definitely sounds like a cool McD’s, as McD’s go. LOL! Have a great week!

    1. Keep on keeping on, Stacey. That McD’s is cool, for a while, but I could see how it could feel like water boarding, too. They should mix it up a little and slow it down for a song or two.

  13. thank you for still being a gentleman!!! Some of us still appreciate such gestures. I don’t know if that makes me an enabler for sexism….. I just think it makes the world a nicer place. showing one another respect surely can’t be a bad thing, right?
    Don’t even get me started on how much trouble I had getting a seat on the bus when I was CLEARLY pregnant. 3 times.
    my grandparents had a player’s piano…. coolest thing ever.

    1. I hold the door for men, too – but I let women go first. Am I sexist or just respectful? I don’t really care. I’ll keep doing it. If my kid failed to give up her seat on a bus to a pregnant woman I’d … well, I’d remind them to be aware of their surroundings.

      Like John Wooden said, “consider others’ rights before your feelings, and others feelings before your rights.”

      If I had a player piano, I’d just use it for evil. You know, sit at it and pretend like it’s me playing.

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