How do I embarrass thee? Let me count the ways…

A big thing these days with Elyse is how much Dad embarrasses her. She is 11 and in middle school, so this is to be expected. I admit, Cadillac does love telling a corny joke, and he does love her over-the-top reaction when he tells these jokes. “Make him STOP, Mother!” She throws her head back and wails and generally calls way more attention to the incident than it warrants.

At the Hawaii State Fair, despite much bravado and talk all day about all the rides they would go on (Elyse had already been on the rides the previous week with a pal, so she was able to describe them all), no one would venture on a ride, except Elyse. So Cadillac got on a ride with her, not wanting to waste the $30 we’d dropped on tickets (which we later scalped).

Her father put his hands into the air. “Put your hands down!” she said, so loud I could hear from where I waited with the other kids. “What if someone sees you?” She spent the rest of the ride trying to pull down his arms.

I should note most of the other people on the ride had their hands in the air.

By the way, the state fair is not as grand as it sounds. I’ve only been to two types of fairs in my life: the Del Mar Fair (known now as the SD County Fair) and the fair put on by the Patrick Henry Football Boosters, at the high school. It’s closer to the fair put on by football boosters; there are rides and games, no pie making contests or Best Chili or art shows. The two shows are a pig race and a dog-jumping competition, where the owners entice their pooches to leap off a platform into water. There was also a Batman figured dressed in a black rubber suit, probably VERY comfortable in Hawaii, who was at least six foot six. The kids refused to take pics with him or even acknowledge him.

Another incident of mortification came when we met her friends to see THE LAST AIRBENDER the other day. The kids ran a lap around the empty theater. Cadillac went down to the front, in front of the screen. “Look at me!” he called. The kids looked up. Then he did his weird chicken dance.

The complexity of the dance is difficult to put into words. I think we saw it on TV one day, so it might actually BE a real kind of dance. I would post a video, or a picture, but I’m afraid that would cause my daughter to actually keel over. It involves him standing on one leg, holding his ankle with one hand, and placing the opposite hand on the side of his head so the elbow sticks out. Then he herky-jerks the elbow and the leg.

“Noooo!” screamed Elyse. “Make him stop! Mother, help!”

“Dad!” Kaiya yelled. “Stop.” Elyse is schooling Kaiya well on how to be embarrassed by family; she always takes her sister’s side.

Ethan fell to the ground laughing. The only thing better than watching his dad dance is watching his sisters’ reactions.

Yesterday, Cadillac came home while we were sitting around the table eating Oreos. He told us he’d stopped by the post office and mailed the movies. He meant the Netflix DVDs, but Kaiya didn’t know that. “What movies?” Kaiya asked.

“I videotaped myself dancing and mailed the movie to all your friends,” her dad replied.

Kaiya burst into tears and ran out of the room.

“Look what you’ve done!” Elyse ran after her sister. “Dad’s just joking, Kaiya.”

“Oh.” Kaiya patted away her tears. “I thought he was serious for a second!”

Cadillac was contrite. “Sorry, Kaiya.” He patted her back. She was already calm, moved on to eating her Oreos, but Elyse still fumed.

“We should videotape it,” Ethan said. “We’ll call it Elyse’s Worst Nightmare and send it to America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Then he laughed until he cried.

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

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