Monday, August 30, 2010

Why I love being a trophy wife

On Friday night, I had a hot date with a guy who’s not my husband.

He’s a handsome, sophisticated, dashing older gentleman, and we enjoyed a fine evening of gourmet food and wine.

The fact that he’s my dad doesn’t make it any less scandalous. On the contrary, I saw several sets of raised eyebrows.

You see, my dad is a retired teacher who spent 30 years at the same school. Pretty much anywhere he goes in Salem, Oregon, there's a chance he'll run into a former student, parent, or colleague.

Since my mom and Pythagoras both prefer their wine to include the word “cooler,” it’s one of those things my dad and I enjoy together. We enjoy it best of all at the Celebration Oregon, an annual event that includes wines from 50+ wineries and food from 15 chefs.
Taking wine notes.

We’ve been attending for years, and without fail, we always run into someone who knows my dad.

On Saturday night, it was a perky 20-something pouring for one of the wineries.

“Mr. Fenske!” she called. “Hi, Mr. Fenske! Remember me?”

As always, there was a long pause. I could see the wheels turning in my dad’s head. I could see him trying hard to place her – maybe in the back of the classroom in 1999? No, no, maybe third seat from the front the last semester of 1997– did she have braces then?

“It’s Jane,” she announced. “You were my English and Social Studies teacher. I thought you were the best!”

As my dad continued to study her and wait for recognition to dawn, I watched the girl steal a look at me. That’s when I saw the wheels start to turn in her head:

Wait – that’s not his wife. I know that’s not his wife, he had a picture on his desk. Is she the mistress? Oh, man. Maybe I’m not supposed to see this. Or maybe his wife died and he got a younger one. Wow, that’s so sad, but good for him. I mean, a guy deserves to be happy, right?

If I were a nicer person, I’d step in every time this happens and clear the whole thing up by introducing myself as Mr. Fenske’s daughter.

But the fact is, I enjoy this. For all those times my dad went out of his way to embarrass me in middle school by calling me by my nickname in front of my classmates (Buzzard Snot, if you must know) this is payback.

Eventually, we wandered off with our wineglasses in hand. I was already scanning the crowd for the next former student. Just for fun, I reached up with my napkin to dab some barbecue sauce from my dad’s chin.

I’m a considerate sort of trophy wife.

Did you have parents who liked to embarrass you? Has the tide shifted now that you’re older, or are they still yelling across public places to ask if you need to use the bathroom? Please share in the comments.

I’ll be deciding whether my mom has something coming in return for all those early curfews.
Is he my dad, or is he my sugar daddy?

39 comments :

Tom M Franklin said...

this is all sorts and kinds of wonderful. i only hope your dad knows people are thinking of you as his trophy wife.


-- Tom

SM Schmidt said...

The last caption is priceless!

I have special parents. They never told embarrassing stories to boyfriends, yell awkward nicknames in public,etc. Must have been reverse psychology because I turned out a squeaky clean Stepford child.

salarsenッ said...

So cool. And love wine. It's neat that you can share that love.

Patty Blount said...

It's wonderful you and your dad have something you can do together. My dad and I are estranged, though my mother's diagnosis has hit him hard. He's been calling me a lot. I used to hear from him only on a holiday.

Kari Lynn Dell said...

This never happens to me. My family is a bunch of variously sized clones. I can be a thousand miles away from my dad and someone will walk up to me out of a crowd and say, "Wow. You must be Bill's daughter."

True story: someone actually did it to my sister in the Atlanta airport.

Kristi Helvig said...

Great pictures--it looks like you had a blast and what a great tradition to share with your loved one (whether they're a father or sugar daddy). :)

Debra L. Schubert said...

Great pics and so awesome that you share a love for fine wine with someone other than me! ;-)

LadyGenette said...

Very cool! I'm pretty sure people think my dad is my dealer whenever we are together in public...

I did have quite the experience with my mom a couple of years back. We were at a grocery store or auto shop or something and the clerk clearly thought we were a lesbian item. Had it not been really funny, that would have been awkward.

Linda G. said...

Are you kidding? I AM the embarrassing parent. Last time my son's gf came over, I dragged out the naked baby pictures. (In my defense, what could be cuter than a toddler in the tub?)

Yea, as a matter of fact, Son's gf DOES love me. As for Son...no comment. ;)

Danica Avet said...

I don't think there's a single child whose parents haven't embarrassed them at some point. Me? College friends were at my house watching tv, mom had one of those back massagers that the family cat happened to like as well. What does she tell my friends? "Oh, the cat likes the vibrator!" *die*

She still embarrasses me, but I don't tend to get so worked up over it anymore. In fact, I'm practicing my own "how to embarrass people" lines so that when I'm in my seniority I can humiliate my nephews and their kids. It's great.

Elizabeth Ryann said...

That is awesome. And why should you clear up the misunderstanding when it's so much funnier not to?

Apparently I managed to embarrass my mother with inappropriate questions in public a number of times, all before I hit grade school. She refuses to let these instances go, though it's now been over 20 years ago and said incidents happened in front of strangers she never saw again. But all I can say is, don't ask your four year old to help you out in the laundromat if you don't want to invite questions about sexy underpants.

Jessica Lemmon said...

What a great story! My dad and I took a sculpting class together once and I remember the first class giving us those same May-December glances.

Embarrassing parents? Funny you should ask, just the other day my Mom and I were walking into the store and she was squawking into the phone to my grandmother. I heard her say, "I don't know, let me ask Jess."

Then, in the middle of the parking lot, my mom lifted her voice and shouted, "Do you have a good Gynocologist you could recommend?"

Candyland said...

Hmm..I'm pretty sure I should reference Freud or something here...

Expat mum said...

I should try this on my teenage son - get people to think I'm his cougar! Eeeuwww - or not!
I do tell them, on a daily basis, that it's my job to embarrass them though.

Tawna Fenske said...

Tom, if he didn't know before, he does now. My mom said he just read the blog post to her over breakfast :)

SM Schmidt, in my family, we delight in embarrassing one another!

Salarsen, wine has definitely been a fun hobby to develop together.

Patty, (((hugs))) on the situation with both your parents. I've been thinking about you a lot.

Kari Lynn, I'm lousy at seeing resemblances in families. I've been told by some people that I look like my mom, but neither of us really sees it.

Kristi, we've definitely gotten more skilled at wine tasting over the years. We took lots of notes this year!

Debra, that's the nice thing about wine -- you can share your love of it with just about anyone!

LadyGennette, cracking up over your dad as your dealer and your mom as your lesbian lover. That's a nice family dynamic you've got there!

Linda G, is your son still hiding under the couch?

Danica, LOL on the vibrator story. Did your mom realize right away what she'd said, or is she one of those moms who'd never really get that sort of joke?

Elizabeth, ha! Did you run around the laundromat waving the underpants, or just rely on words to embarrass your mom?

Jessica, I don't know why there's something a bit oogey about sharing a gynecologist with grandma. So did you give her a recommendation?

Candyland, maybe we can get a discount on family therapy.

Expat Mum, I'll bet you could get a lot of mileage out of that cougar threat. Maybe get him to do the dishes forever?

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

LR said...

I just went to Bordeaux with my dad and we had a blast sampling wines and touring wineries. But luckily nobody mistook me for his wife. :)

Jaycee said...

Lol @ payback time.

Sierra Godfrey said...

I love that you didn't correct the waitress!

But, I'm sorry to say, you do look a lot like your dad, so it could be figured out.

Still, why help people? :)

Elizabeth Flora Ross said...

LMAO! When I graduated college, my dad and I took a trip to Key West together. He had to make sure EVERYONE we encountered knew I was his daughter. It was hysterical. We'd sit down at a restaurant, the waiter would come over and say, "Hi, I'm Gary and I'll be your server tonight." And my dad would reply, "Hello! I'm Sam and this is MY DAUGHTER, Elizabeth" Of course, we look exactly alike, so I seriously doubt anyone was mistaking me for his mistress. But I guess you never know. And he didn't want to leave anything to people's imaginations.

kristina said...

Loved the element of the teacher trying to place the student as I have had that same experience MANY times myself.

So awesome to see a couple still in love after 40 years and a family so obviously so loving toward one another. Oh, and you make one hell of a trophy wife! :)

Matthew AT Banning said...

Um, my parents don't really do much to embarass me. I don't give them the chance to do so. All my friends live a 30 minute drive away and it takes 15 minutes to drive into town. Most of the time I'm not home for them to do so. :)

Although, I don't enjoy being mistaken for my dad over the phone!


"Hi, Mr. Banning, we need you to come down to the mill to fix this machine part that just broke. When can you get here?"

(Big pause on both ends)

(Me); "Um ... I'll go get dad now ..."


It's even worse when I get mistaken for my mom. And yes, that has happened before too.

Dr. Goose said...

Are all of the Fenske's as dashing as you and your father?

Elizabeth Ryann said...

I picked up a pair of her sexy black undies, and figuring that they couldn't possibly belong to my mom and must've gotten in our basket by mistake, I asked, "Are these yours?" And because she wasn't really paying much attention to me (BIG MISTAKE--I may be well-behaved and unlikely to engage in unexpectedly dangerous activities, but I've never enjoyed being ignored), I started waving them in the air shouting, "MOM! ARE THESE YOURS??"

Terry Stonecrop said...

Haha! I love your revenge.

I tended to ignore curfews, so I don't really need revenge. But the nagging and the lectures...

Jan Markley said...

Sounds like a fun time. I just get to embarrass my teenage niece.

Indigo said...

I'll admit in a heartbeat I dye my hair to hide my age.

Paul shaves his head and has an almost pure white goatee and mustache.

I used to go watch him play with his band. Without fail, after we hung out in between breaks - someone would ask me (always a guy) if that was my dad. The thing is Paul is only 2 years older than I am.

I laugh every single time. (Hugs)Indigo

squinto said...

No embarrassing nicknames to speak of (ahem), but my dad's youthful appearance does draw some awkward questions.

One day, I forgot to bring my bus tickets to school so I called my dad to bring 10 of them. I know, it sounds illogical when I probably could have asked the office for one but this is just my way of doing it.

Anyway, my dad entered the school office and told the secretary to page his daughter down. The secretary was immediately suspicious--he didn't look old enough to have a daughter yet, apparently. He was probably just looking to sneak out with a student! So she asked him to show her his driver's license. My dad says her eyes bugged out of her head.

Needless to say, my dad and I still get the chuckles from recounting the story--though the idea of being thought my dad's girlfriend gives me the chills.

Taymalin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Taymalin said...

My father mortifed me the first time I brought a boy home with me. I was in my early twenties, in my first serious relationship, and thus easily embarrassed. The tone for the evening was set with a lively debate at dinner over whether or not women should shave their pubic hair. The evening ended with my boyfriend and I heading to my room with my father hollering from the bottom of the stairs, "you kids have fun now!". Needless to say, we did not have fun that night.

Speaking of nicknames, this is the boyfriend my father dubbed "Tiddleyf**k", a nickname he shared with my friends, much to their delight and my boyfriend's dismay. He also informed poor Tiddleyf**k, who worked in my University's cafeteria, that he didn't send me to school to end up with a galley slut (let me clarify here that my father was a sailor. Probably the one referenced in song. You know, "what can you do with a drunken sailor?").

Needless to say, things didn't work out between Tiddleyf**k and I.

I'd have sought revenge, but in retrospect, it turned out for the best. If a guy can't handle my father, then what's he going to do when he meets all four of my brothers? Or worse, my four sisters?

Margaret said...

LOL! An observant student would note that you look very much alike, but what a wonderful way to play with people's expectations.

Claire Dawn said...

I think my Dad killed my ability to be embarassed early on. My brother, on the other hand, was that kid that was on the alert after school, racing to the car before my Dad could get out in an army green shirt and pink pants which might have fit him a decade ago, but certainly didn't by that point.

Sadly, I've grown into my Dad. My son is going to have to undergo therapy. lol.

Patrick Alan said...

I can't believe you would go behind your Mom's back and steal her husband.

You let her know I will take her out for wine coolers next time I'm in Oregon. She can be my sugar momma.

Tawna Fenske said...

LR, you'll have to remedy that next time if you really want to embarrass your dad. Maybe touch his arm as he reaches out to tip the waitress?

Jaycee, my mother insisted on the phone this morning that she's done nothing to warrant payback. I have struck fear in her heart :)

Sierra, some people think I look like my dad, some think I look like my mom. Others think I look like the mailman.

Elizabeth Flora Ross, too funny about your dad. Nice of him to make that clear to everyone!

kristina, both of my parents were teachers, so it's pretty much a guarantee whenever I go out with them that we're going to run into SOMEONE one of them taught!

Matthew, LOL on being mistaken for one or both of your parents on the phone. I used to mistake a friend's pre-teen son for her CONSTANTLY on the phone. When his voice suddenly changed one summer, I was stunned. I figured she had a strange man in her house!

Dr. Goose, now that you mention it, all the Fenske men ARE devastatingly handsome. Why do you ask :)

Elizabeth Ryann, how very, very proud she must have been. And by "proud" I mean she probably wanted to stuff you in the dryer and shut the door.

Terry, I suggest you start planning that revenge now. It can take awhile to execute.

Jan, embarrassing a teenager sounds like a great time. Let me know if you need help!

Indigo, ha! You'll be lording that over him well into your 70s, won't you? :)

squinto, OMG, too funny! I guess it's nice that the school staff was so vigilant.

Taymalin, oh my! I don't know whether to feel sorry for poor Tiddlyf**k, or glad he got out alive!

Margaret, I'll take that as a compliment, since he's a handsome fellow. Thanks!

Claire Dawn, I hope somewhere you have a photo of your dad dressed like that!

Patrick, my mom will appreciate the comfort and looks forward to being your sugar momma. She bites, by the way.

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

NINA NAKAYAMA said...

Too funny! My sister embarrassed me more than my parents and I LIVE for paying her back...you're far better at it than me though. *furiously taking notes* Excellent form, points for style, perfect execution. *holding up a big foam #1* I'm a fan...

Posey said...

LOL! THIS IS HILARIOUS!

Posey said...
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Posey said...
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Posey said...

THAT wasn't my fault this time. It's blogger I tell you, blogger! Stupid duplicate comments.

Kellie said...

My Mum worked as the heath/sex ed teacher at my high school. Oh how I love my classmates telling me that "you mum told us how your were born bum first today in class" (I was breech) and even better the "snigger, snigger, your mum taught us how to put condoms on today".