One time, a few years ago, I was working at an archaeological excavation in downtown LA and went to visit my dad at his office on my lunch break. As we were walking down a hallway, I was thinking only of marching my filthy ass into a bathroom to wash my hands/face, when suddenly a young man in a sharp suit peeked his head out of an office door. All I could think about were the flecks of dirt on my eyelashes and how disgusting I was and how I really didn’t want to be introduced, when he said, “This guy,” gesturing toward my dad, “this guy is THE MAN!” After some small talk revealed that “The Man” was my father, The Suit said again, “This guy, your dad, is THE MAN!”
And my dad, the humble civil servant, loved it. LOVED it. It was amazing.
This is an exchange that stuck with me, despite the fact that it was less than thirty seconds long, because my dad is, in his professional life, pretty impressive. Despite my very real desire to list out his accomplishments in a vain effort to make myself look better, he really doesn’t deserve that. Let’s suffice to say that he works really hard at his job and and is love with Los Angeles and is occasionally in the paper, and that these articles are still lovingly clipped out of the LA Times by his mother and sent to him in the mail. At work, he is, apparently, The Man.
At home, however, he’s my dad, the guy who uses mustard as salad dressing and drinks Cherry Coke Zero (after giving up real Coke years ago) and owns thousands of books on Abraham Lincoln and wears socks with sandals and loves trying new beers and says things like “tempaTUR” because his Texan father used to.
I don’t think of him as The Man – which is probably equal parts 1) because I’ve seen him dip French fries into vanilla milkshakes and 2) because I don’t want him to promote me, like I’m assuming The Suit did. However, occasionally, my father, The Man, really delivers, in a way only The Man could.
Take for, instance, Saturday night, when The Man took my husband and me and my brother The Middle Child and TMC’s fabulous girlfriend to a Dodger game. My dad is sometimes offered the use of his coworker’s season seats, which makes him The Man because the seats are free. When he invites my brothers and my husband and me, The Man will palm us money after we’ve entered the stadium, so that we can splurge on large, ten dollar cups of Sam Adams and soft pretzels. (Gross.)
Then, after the game, which usually ends well, like Saturday when the Dodgers beat the Marlins 7 to 1, The Man will ask us if we want to see LA from the top of City Hall, and then we’ll do that. We’ll take four elevators and one skybridge and find ourselves looking over downtown from 28 stories up.
My father, The Man, will tell us all about the history of the buildings around us and we’ll locate the spot where I once worked digging up a cemetery. Telling this story will make me feel like The Man for a second, before I realize that I don’t do that cool stuff anymore.
My husband and I will try to take a good picture of the two of us, and fail once
and then twice
and then I’ll give up and make an insane, full-Wallace-and-Gromit face, and then the camera will steady itself and finally work. Of course.
When we’re done at the top of City Hall, we’ll check out of the empty, dark, gorgeous first floor
and head home, taking the long way down Sunset Boulevard to the freeway, allowing my dad to revel in being The Man for a few more minutes.
My dad’s the man, man.