Returning my prom dress and other stories

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By Ken Begley


I’ll tell you what.
Being a dad sometimes puts you in the most uncomfortable situations that I never would have dreamed of being in when I was single.
Here are a few examples.
One time when money was short, we took the kids on a one-day vacation to Louisville.  We were going to Kentucky Kingdom.  Generally my wife likes all the fast and stomach-churning rides. Not me, brother. My days for those are over.
We decided to break up, with Cindy taking the older kids on the “big rides.”  I opted for the “kiddy rides” with a two-year-old.  Please note that I don’t reveal the child’s name to protect the semi-innocent from embarrassment.
Now, what could go wrong?  We have a mature, experienced dad, a two-year-old, and an amusement park.  Nothing could happen there, right?  Oh, foolish person!  I, too, was ignorant once.  Listen and learn.
At first, it was a really pleasant day.  The weather was good, the kid wasn’t misbehaving, and the crowd was small.  Take note, that’s how you’re lured in with a false sense of security and let down your guard.  It also accounts for nervous tics that parents develop when nothing seems to be going wrong but are just standing near their offspring.
We walked over to a ride with miniature trucks going around a small track at about two-miles-an-hour.  The only people in the line were a couple of good-looking young women in shorts talking to each other and a young girl that belonged to one of them.   My two-year-old ran over and got at the end of the line by one of the women and watched the ride run around the track through the guardrails.  I walked over and stood by my kid with arms draped over the rail and watched, as well.
Suddenly, the young woman nearest me stopped talking, spun around on a dime, and appeared in utter shock.  She gave me first a stunned and then explosive look that could take paint off walls.  I didn’t know what was going on.  I looked back and gave her a dumbfounded smile while waiting for the next shoe to drop from this obviously crazy person.
Her eyes shot over to the rail where she saw both my hands.  She then looked confused.  Then her eyes shot down, and I followed them, to the ground.  There we both saw my peaceful looking two year-old, watching the ride, sucking a thumb on one hand while the other hand was up the leg of her shorts.
The rest of the day was uneventful.
Another time I was in a video rental store (doesn’t that sound out of date now) downtown.  For some reason, the store’s computer had it in its electronic brain that I had never returned the movie “Iron Giant.”  Every time I went in I was confronted by a store clerk asking for it.  I was in the store with a five year-old when I was again approached on the subject, which made me mad.
I said, “Look, I don’t think we ever even rented the ‘Iron Giant.’”
My five year-old sensing, that I needed her help said, “Yeah, we did Daddy.  Don’t you remember?”
The clerk began looking at me with arched eyebrows as my face turned red.  I then said, “Well, even if we did, I’m sure we returned it because I haven’t seen it around the house anywhere.”
The five-year-old said with a laugh, “Oh, it could be up at the house and we wouldn’t even know it with all the junk thrown everywhere.”
Right then and there I made two mental notes.  The first was not to return to that store again.  The second was to inform my five year-old that if I ever wanted their opinion in public again I would squeeze it out of their head.
Then there was the time we were on vacation driving to Cades Cove from Gatlinburg.  If you haven’t made that ride, then don’t!  It’s at the end of 20 miles of what is laughingly called a highway, which ends in a rural area not half as pretty as Washington County.  This road would have made the old Perryville Road look like a major Interstate Highway.  To make it interesting, there are numerous drop-offs on either side of the road and virtually no place to pull over or turn around.
We had left that dismal place with three kids under the age of four when a two-year-old promptly cried that they had to go to the bathroom.  Cindy, being afraid of heights and fast moving cars, had me take the baby over to the edge of a drop-off by the road where I held her in the air, like the beginning of some ancient pagan sacrifice, to let her do her business.  We then got back into the car.
Cindy then scrunched her nose and said, “What is that smell?”  (Writer’s note:  I lost the ability to smell many years ago)  Then she looked over at me and said, “What’s ‘that’ on your shirt?”  I found what “that” was and spent the next 10 minutes in a stream beating my shirt on a rock while Cindy gave me sympathy by rolling around and laughing by the car.
Another time was when one of my girls was going to the prom and bought some prom dresses from J.C. Penney’s on line.  I work in Danville where there is a J.C. Penney and was elected to make returns.  I say returns as the kid ordered two or three times before she got the dress she wanted.  So, I had to make returns three separate times over a period of a week or two.
The last time, the returns clerk, an elderly woman, looked at my fat, middle-aged derriere from behind the counter and said, “What’s the matter, dearie?  Not big enough for you?”
You can’t beat them.
At least not where it shows.