In some ways my father is a very traditional man. He works with wood for a living and judges my boyfriends if their hands are "too soft". He's probably never worked out in a gym, and couldn't care less about "glamour muscles," but is stronger than any man his age from 50 years of carrying sheets of plywood and installing custom cabinets. I have never seen his upper lip shaved. He made himself a huge potato gun for christmas last year with a handmade switch, and hairspray as an accelerant (his favorite present was a huge sack of potatoes and cheap hairspray from my mom- I refused to waste Kerastase on that). He scoffs at the idea of cologne and likes curvy, womanly actresses like Salma Hayek. (Although who doesn't?) When I was little, he would grab a beer after he got home from a long day at work, and I would curl up with him and watch tv, tell him about my day, and generally try to make him laugh with the dry/stupid humor I got from him. (Thanks to both my parents I will forever quote Mel brooks and Monty python movies, which no one my age appreciates.) As a result, the smell of sawdust and Corona will always make me think of him. He was horrified by the idea of tattoos and piercings on a girl, and the biggest battle I had with him growing up was whether or not my door was closed while my sweet and respectful high school boyfriend was over. We still debate whether that rule was necessary every few years. (It wasn't!)
a rare flannel-free day
But, in some ways, my father is modern and progressive. He, along with my maternal grandfather, always made me feel like my opinion was valid, valuable even. I was always part of the conversation, taught about science and politics, and brought up to value my brain more than my body. He always wanted me to help him in his shop and wished I was more into fishing, and weekend trips to Home Depot with him were a regular thing until I got old enough to be uncomfortable being ogled. He is the reason I connect with male clients and friends easily. I appreciate their simplicity and transparency; a conversation with a man doesn't have as many layers of communication as one with a woman. you don't have to translate tone or meaning separate from their words. I don't assume men are out to hurt me, because he never did. (unless I'm in a dark alley, and then my 'law and order' education takes precedent.)
He thought I was imagining feeling like my legs and torso
were wet the whole time, and still feels guilty about the leak :)
I was a lot more into learning how to perfectly tie woolybugger flies for him! (indoor kid)
My dad has always had a bemused appreciation for my love of all things beauty-related. When I was about ten, he made me an awesome manicuring station with compartments for nail polishes, and I painstakingly labeled each one with corresponding swatches for my 'clients' to choose from. He may not have understood why I loved it, but he liked my intensity and perfectionism. He used to go crazy watching me diligently butter toast, but he recently laughed when I told him nowadays I never miss a gray hair! He appreciates what I do, just in an odd way. For years he refused to sit still long enough for his perfectionist daughter's barbering, so he went to supercuts and got regularly disfigured. He liked that they spray you down and he didn't have to lay in a shampoo bowl, and he had a girl there he loved to tell stories to about his daughter doing fancy hair in Los Angeles. He swears she enjoyed these bragfests, I'm not so sure. His hair might have been longer on one side on purpose. At some point my mother started cutting his hair in their kitchen again, as she had my whole childhood, and now that my eye is trained I realize what a natural she is, and that I should probably thank her for that talent.
My father and I understand each other in a totally new way now, simply because we have found so many similarities between our jobs. We talk about building a business, dealing with clients, mixing colors/stains and painstakingly applying (we both have matching stained fingernails), having the courage to charge a lot of money for something because you've worked hard to be good at it, and caring about your reputation. He will always be my mentor when it comes to how to be responsible with money and how to be professional and approachable at the same time, how to be passionate (on the verge of obsessive) about an artistic project while maintaining your personal relationships. I may be covered in bleach instead of sawdust, but even in the most unlikely industry, I am still my father's daughter.