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When I started dating, about the age of eighteen, my mother always waited up for me to come home. As soon as I would walk in the door of the apartment, she and I would go into my bedroom, she would sit herself down on my bed and we would hash over the whole evening. Usually at this hour Daddy would be about to doze off for the night, but our talking would filter into his bedroom, which was very close by. "Are you girls going to talk all night?" he would call out. "Can't you wait until morning to have this discussion?" My mother would shush him and tell him to go back to sleep. He would grumble and be quiet for a while and then start all over again. "Lillian, come back to bed. When she's ready to marry the guy, you'll ask all those questions." Eventually, Mom and I would kiss each other good night, and she would go back to her room to pacify my dad.
As a young man my father started out as a comedian and tap dancer in vaudeville and burlesque. When vaudeville died, his dreams of show business died, too. Through the years, though, he never missed a chance to tell a few jokes, sing a song and do a little soft-shoe. He produced shows for his lodge and later for his condominium in Florida. He was a warm and outgoing person who always had a smile and kind word for everyone.
One weekend my mother went out of town to visit some relatives, and I had a date for that Saturday night. I promised Daddy I would not be home too late and that he really didn't have to wait up for me. My date picked me up, he and Dad met, they shook hands and off we went.
Well, the evening ran a little later than I had promised and as we walked to my house from the subway station, I could see my daddy hanging out the window of our third-story apartment, watching for me. I kept talking to my date hoping to distract him so that he wouldn't see my father, because I would have been terribly embarrassed. As soon as we reached the door of my apartment, I bid my date a real fast good night and waited until I heard the lobby door close before I opened the apartment door with my key.
I tiptoed in and saw that the door to my parents' bedroom was closed. "Good," I said to myself, assuming that Daddy had gone to bed. I was relieved not to have to give any explanations about why I was late coming home. I opened the door to my bedroom, walked in and almost fell on the floor.
There sat my dear daddy on my bed, wearing a big smile on his face and dressed in one of my mother's dresses. His curly hair was pouffed up, his legs were crossed, and with one hand on his knee and one on his hip he started speaking in a high-pitched tone. "So," he said, "How did the date go? What did he say and what did you say? Where did you have dinner? Did you go to a show? Will you see him again? By the way, what does he do for a living? Did he treat you nicely? I certainly hope he was a gentleman. Do you think he's serious about the relationship?"
"Daddy," I said, "slow down, one question at a time. This was only our third date."
"Well, I just want to make sure I get all the information that your mother gets when you talk to her."
We must have talked and laughed for almost an hour. Finally, I was the one who said, "Time for bed, we'll talk in the morning. I'm the one who's tired now."
Daddy gave me a hug and kiss good night and said, "Don't forget, we have to remember every little detail to tell your mother when she gets home, so she won't feel left out."
Cover image via cunaplus I Shutterstock
This story is from Chicken Soup for the Father's Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Hearts and Rekindle the Spirits of Fathers © 2011 Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC. All rights reserved.