The heat at 5:50 p.m. on an early September Sunday afternoon in Fort Worth, Texas, is just like you’d expect it to be. Hot. The kind of hot where you’d never leave children, pets, or the elderly unattended in a car, and you’d feel a bit guilty leaving the stereo and seats. NASA has to prepare for that kind of hot when they send probes near the sun.
Yeah. It was just like that, and I was wearing a suit.
I hadn’t gone mad. My oldest daughter was getting married. She’s obviously the one who had gone mad.
I stood inside the building where the caterer and DJ were setting up for the reception, and soaked in the air conditioning. It wouldn’t be for long. The clock kept clicking closer and closer to 6 p.m., when my little girl was going to get married.
This was a new experience. A number of my high school classmates have married children and are now grandparents, but that ain’t me. The last time I checked, my little girl was 4 years old and crying because Daddy did a really bad job applying the pink fingernail polish.
Sorry about that, honey, but I was a rookie back then. Your little sister has benefitted from that experience, though. I can now paint the heck out of a fingernail.
Sweat had already begun to trickle down my back, even before I walked into the stifling heat of the early Texas evening to give my baby away to some guy with better facial hair than me.
Her bridesmaids, friends from high school and college, stood in front of me chatting about things girls that age chat about. (I didn’t listen. Maybe it was about the mall or SpongeBob, or something.) They were obviously less concerned about my little girl growing up than I was. I’m not sure she should play with them anymore.
“You OK, Dad?” my daughter asked as she suddenly appeared next to me, her white dress I would probably step on later, cascaded behind her.
She looked like a woman. A beautiful grown woman.
Changing diapers, drying tears, going to dance recitals and soccer games, walking her across the football field at halftime of the homecoming game, and seeing her cross the stage for her college graduation are now relegated to family history.
I nodded, even though I had started to tear up. Crying is acceptable for a man under the following circumstances: he’s been kicked in the groin, his favorite sports team loses a championship game, his steak was overcooked, there is no more beer, he just watched “Old Yeller,” and his daughter gets married.
A few seconds of silence crawled by, then I heard a popping noise followed by a sound like someone had no idea how to play the trombone.
My daughter raised her hand and said to her bridesmaids, “OK, everybody. That was me.”
She’d farted. There was no blush, no apology, just ownership. Yep, she’s still my little girl.
Follow Jason Offutt on Twitter @TheJasonOffutt.