Looking Up!

Bruce Julie Tux

It was a bit over a year ago when I told a close friend I was headed to Charlotte, NC, for a work meeting.  This friend suggested I contact a sorority sister of hers, “Danny, I think you’d really hit it off.”

I wasn’t resistant.  I’ve been out on a number of dates over the past five or so years and although I hadn’t found Miss Right, I’ve met some interesting women and had enjoyable conversations.  People are fascinating and mostly nice.

I wasn’t overly optimistic, but I certainly didn’t dread the date.  I could always use a new friend.  Besides, she lived two hours away.  This relationship could easily dissolve simply by staying close to the Wake County line.

What I didn’t expect was to be totally captivated by this incredible woman.  What I couldn’t imagine was that I would start a relationship with someone who would emotionally fill me up in a way I hadn’t been filled in a very long time.

My mom has prayed for this for seven years.  I guess I haven’t because I had my plate full with other pressing issues.  It seemed insurmountable to heal enough from my loss to ever be open to a relationship again.

But BAM – it hit me.  It hit me hard.

The past seven years have been tough.  Don’t get me wrong, my girls and I have had really, really good times together.  But there are roles that they can’t and should not have to fill in our family.  It’s simply not their responsibility to ensure my happiness.  I have to figure that out on my own.

I think I’ve done OK, but man, to share the emotional load, to open up, to laugh and cry with someone again – someone who really cares about me in a different way than my parents or my kids – it sort of rounds things out.

I had forgotten.  I had filled my huge void with busy – running myself ragged so I didn’t have to sit still long enough to in fact realize how lonely I had become.  My kids were moving forward.  My friends were moving on.  I was not.  I was simply running in place.  Stuck in the middle.

Now, I breathe again.  Not just short gasps.  No, because of Julie, I’m taking deep, thoughtful, life-filling breaths.  She is a beautiful, optimistic, capable, happy, ball of fire!  We fit.

Movement forward isn’t always easy nor steady, and I bring a lot of baggage to the table.  But I think, instead of pushing it aside, she’s going to help me carry it.  She seems to see things in me that I don’t even see in myself.

In my darkest days, I never imagined happy like this.  I can’t believable that I found it.

Bruce and Julie

 

I love some Michael Coors

michael-kors-michael-peep-toe-platform-sandals-leighton-high-heels-462906

It’s that time of year again.  Time to find the costume for the Winter Formal.  It’s in two weeks.  Both DJ and Stephanie have dates, which is no easy feat at an all girls’ school.  Appropriate clothing may be a more difficult challenge this year.

I took Stephanie to six dress stores last weekend.  If it had arm and neck holes, we tried it on.  Salesclerks give me the oddest stares.  I know they wonder why this dude is the sole adult with teenaged girls in their boutique.  I want to wear a sign across my chest:  Wife died, shut your pie hole.  Instead I try to act like I know what I’m doing, like Clinton from What Not To Wear:

“Texture…nice.”

“Shuuuut-Up!”

“Fit IS everything.”

“A line, much better than the B line.”

After a frustrating Saturday, I sent DJ on the prowl.  Within 30 minutes of their departure, I got a text with a pic of THE dress.  I thought Stephanie had it on backwards because the zipper was in the front.  Why would you need a zipper in the front?  It’s not a jacket.  You ain’t gonna need to get it off in a hurry!

Whatever…

This weekend we tackled shoes.  I took her to a store I thought was called DWI – but it’s actually DSW.  There were so many shoes there it upset my stomach.  I was overwhelmed.  I felt dizzy.  I didn’t know where to start.

I felt like a bird; I headed for sparkly shoes.  That’s what she used to like.

“Dad.  I haven’t worn sparkling shoes since I dressed up like Snow White, Halloween of 2004.”

Although she told me, I kept being drawn to shoes with jewels on them.

“Dad – DO NOT PICK OUT ONE MORE SHINY SHOE!  I AM NOT WEARING SEQUINS TO THE DANCE, especially on my feet!”

I pulled boxes off the shelf,she tried them on.  I then took pictures and sent them to DJ.

She responded to my first text:  “Put them back now!  They actually made me throw up a little bit.”

They weren’t that bad.

We finally settled on two pair, both returnable, both by Michael Coors.  I liked that cause he makes beer too.

When we got them home, I was told one pair looked like a 50-year-old lady and the other like a Hay Street prostitute.

“Well she must be good because these puppies were expensive.”

The crazy thing is that when DJ returned from her first dance at St. Mary’s School, I asked her if her feet hurt.  Her response?  “Oh no.  We took them off the minute we walked in the door.”

I’m gonna send her behind in bedroom slippers.  Shiny bedroom slippers.

Why You Got To Be So Rude?

There is a fairly new pop song that the radio stations play endlessly right now.  It’s called Rude, and it’s about a young man who goes to ask his girlfriend’s father for her hand in marriage.

It starts like this:

Saturday morning jumped out of bed
And put on my best suit
Got in my car and raced like a jet
All the way to you
Knocked on your door with heart in my hand
To ask you a question
‘Cause I know that you’re an old-fashioned man, yeah

Can I have your daughter for the rest of my life?
Say yes, say yes ’cause I need to know

In the music video, the father shakes his head and apparently says, “Nah, you ain’t marrying my daughter.”

You say I’ll never get your blessing ’til the day I die
Tough luck, my friend, but the answer is ‘No’

The young man then asks the dad, Why you got to be so rude?

Every time I hear that song, it takes me back to a similar conversation with Lisa’s father.  I’m not sure if it’s still an expectation in other parts of the country to ask a girl’s father for her hand in marriage, but in the south, it is.  At least in my circles.

So, I, being raised in a respectable family, knew what I had to do when I made the decision to take the plunge.  I called my father-in-law to be ,who I didn’t know very well, and asked him to go to lunch.  I admit I was a bit frightened.  It was a really awkward situation.  I was sitting there with a dude I didn’t really know, basically asking if I could defrock his daughter, spend Christmas with him, and go on his family vacations for the rest of his life.  All over a burger and fries.

I didn’t even know what to call this person.  He hadn’t told me I could marry his daughter yet so “dad” would have been presumptuous.  And, it seemed a bit formal to call my likely father-in-law Mr. Katsopolis – I’d likely see him in his underwear before the year was over.  But David or Dave was out of the question.  He was my elder, more than two decades my senior.

I don’t think I addressed him by name that day.  In fact, I don’t think I addressed him by name until there were grandchildren, at which time he became Pops, a comfortable name for all.

After small talk, he isn’t much of a small talker, and some awkward silence, I finally popped the question letting him know that I was planning to pop the question.

“Ahh, I think I’m gonna ask Lisa to marry me.  You OK with that?”  There was no going back now…

I was pretty sure he liked me but she was young, 23, and I was five years her senior.  I knew there was a possibility that he would beg me off for a while.  Surprisingly his response was rapid:

“Son, you don’t know what a burden you’re taking off of me.”

I gulped.  Were there things about my future wife that I didn’t yet know?  Did she have multiple personalities?  Financial baggage?  Perhaps an anger disorder?  Why was he so relieved?

As my mind raced working to figure out what I’d missed, Mr. Katsopolis gazed into nowhere, and as if his brain and mouth were one, his thoughts became audible:  “Her sister is going to be harder to place.”

If believe he picked up the check and bounced out of the restaurant as if he had just sold me a car without an engine.

I’m not sure how I’ll respond when some serious suitor comes to call for one of my girls, and I’ll have to admit I’ve wondered which of my daughters will be the most “difficult to place.”

Will I play hard to get with the fellas, or jump at the first offer?  DJ recently taped me singing my own version of Rude.  

I hope it doesn’t come to this!

Baggage That Goes With Mine

Gucci-Trunks-IIHIH

It was almost one year after Lisa’s death that an overwhelming desire to date came over my being. It was as if I saw this impending life of loneliness approaching, and I felt I had to develop a plan for avoiding the scenario that kept playing out in my mind.

I mentioned my readiness to a couple of friends and within a week or two, I found myself scheduled for a blind lunch date at a restaurant near my office.

I thought I was ready, but I thought wrong.

As the day approached I became more and more uneasy. That morning, I gagged in the bathroom toilet.

At 11:30 I went into a co-workers office, he’s also a very good friend.  “I can’t do this. I’m going to puke. I have to call it off. Do you thinking texting her is appropriate?”

This friend, who had walked by my side for the previous 12 months and had heard my rants about moving to a retirement community at age 45 simply to have a built-in social network, grabbed my shoulders.  “Get yourself together man! You’re going on this date! You don’t have to marry her, you simply have to eat with her.”

He walked me to my car.

“Take off your wedding ring. Get in the car. Don’t come back without a receipt. And there’d better be TWO entrees on it!”

I think the “date” lasted 45 minutes. She was nice enough, very easy to talk to, and I did not vomit.  But I just wasn’t ready.

It takes a lot of cahoonas to put yourself out there. I have single friends who have slugged out the dating scene for years. I think about what I have to offer, sort of like a newspaper want ad:

Single male looking for a date; skinny with slight love handles; works for a nonprofit; will always love his first wife, the mother of his children; lives on estrogen lane with his three teenage daughters; continues to find random hairs poking out of various orifices around his body.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to jump on that?

Year three I decided I was gonna be a “PLAYA”… was gonna date multiple women at once.

Yeah – not so much.

I found my calendar didn’t much support that kind of lifestyle.

Let’s see, I think I can fit you in the 17th of next month from 5:45 – 7:15 pm, after I drop off at ballet and before I have to be at the Stewardship Committee meeting at church.

Nah, going out with one person is plenty.

Two of the women I’ve dated are now in very serious relationships with other guys. One is engaged!

Date Danny Tanner, and fall in love (with someone else). I’m a good starter kit.

I’ve been on a number of first dates, even seconds and thirds. And then, when there are no sparks, I don’t know what to do. Call back and ask, “Are you feeling sparks? Cause I’m not really.” Or, “I’d love to hang out and be your friend but I just don’t think we’re moving each other romantically.” Or, “If you could do something about that annoying laugh, maybe this could go somewhere.”

And the worst is when I then see these women, who I just never called back, in the mall.

“Hey…” this is the most awkward moment of my adult life, “I meant to call you back but…that laugh, well…”

Seriously, they didn’t call me back either so I’m guessing they saw the six-inch white hair poking out of my left ear.

One friend told me I didn’t want to go out with a particular woman ’cause she had baggage.  Seriously?  I got a whole Samsonite 5-piece set!  I need someone whose baggage goes with mine.

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Daddy Vogue

jcrew tennis shoes

I don’t know if I’ll ever get remarried.  Perhaps in time, but I guess I’m not in a rush.

My mom says that she’s not going to die until I do.  If I want to keep her around, I should probably not – it might give her incentive to keep on trucking.

I have dated some.  The girls reaction has been funny.  They are supportive, but they find it difficult to believe that anyone would actually, without being under some sort of duress, would want to go out with me.

Me:  “DJ, I’m going out to dinner on Friday night.  Can you babysit?”

DJ:  “I guess.  What are you doing?”

Me:  “I have a date.”

DJ:  “Seriously?”

The seriously isn’t framed as I’m upset you’re going out.  The tone behind the word clearly conveys Poor, poor pathetic woman.  To be desperate enough to go on a date with my dad – even if he is paying.

Someone told me to try online dating.  There may be a day that I get to that – but it sure isn’t now.  I did, however, wonder what my profile might be:

Nearly 50-year-old widower

Skinny with slight love handles

Three teenage daughters (now that’s a selling point)

Works for a nonprofit ($$$)

Will always love his deceased wife

Might write a tell-all book about you at some point in the future

I mean, who wouldn’t be into that?

A few weeks ago I was heading out and went upstairs to give instructions to the troops.  DJ looked at me.

“Dad, are you meeting a woman?”

“Yeah.  Just a friend for a drink.”

“Oh.”

She continued, “Dad, I like your shoes.”

“Thanks.”

“I also like your pants.”

“Thanks baby.”  I am so very, very cool.

“However, I don’t like them together.  Go change.”

I began my defense, “These are cool tennis shoes and J Crew cords!  We’re just going to a bar!  It’s casual!  Uncle Jesse has shoes like this!”

“No.  No he doesn’t.  This situation,” she pointed to my lower extremities, “is not working.”

I wasn’t about to let a 16-year-old dictate my wardrobe.  I’m a confident man.  She couldn’t tell me what to wear!

As I walked through the kitchen, I complained to Michelle, “Can you believe DJ told me to change my shoes?”

She glanced down from the iPad and down at my feet.  “Thank God.”

As I slipped on my boots I was disgusted with weakness.

I really haven’t dated that much and am in no big hurry.  It is difficult to find time.  But it is nice to occasionally hang out with females who aren’t married to my friends or whose primary concern isn’t acne.

The Dress

Posted by Danny

What is $7,227.74? 

The amount of money I’m likely to spend on high school dances over a 12 year period of time for three daughters.  I accounted for two big dances a year and included 5% a year for inflation.  This does not include middle school dances, college formals or debutante balls.

I can see myself in thirty years – living in Michelle’s cardboard box in downtown Raleigh – a large picture book of my daughters, wearing my retirement, my sole possession.

It took two grandmothers, one aunt, three of Lisa’s friends, an army of saleswomen and me to find THE dress for DJ’s first formal.  The shopping started just two weeks out with family members dropping by every dress shop from Benson to Oxford. 

At one point I think we had four dresses on hold.

Finally, as the calendar grew tight, I stepped in – sort of the Godfather of shopping.  A decision had to be made.  I was strong and equipped, I’d just paid off my monthly VISA bill.

We started at North Hills – a store called Ubiquitous (or something like that).  They had nothing (under $300) that we liked.  We ran by Hayley’s – they were holding one.  The woman assured us this was the only one of its kind in the free world.  Grandma liked it better than DJ.

We hit another store on Oberlin Road – it cost me one $50 Sunday dress, but nothing for the event.

I was getting worried.

Two days later, it happened.  She found something else in North Hills and put it on hold.  We walked in together.  There was a comfortable black and white couch with a huge framed mirror propped right in front of me.  I looked good – graying at my temples, the black circles under my eyes hidden under the soft lights.

She came out in the dress – it was a darker shade of purple.  It was short. 

“You look beautiful but you’ll need to wear a bathing suit under that one.”

“It’s fingertip length.”

“Maybe your pinkie fingertip, if you’re slouching.  What are you going to do when you raise your arms?”

“Why would I raise my arms? It’s a formal, not a math class.”

“Don’t you raise your arms when you dance?”

“No.”

I demonstrate some of my basic moves – hands in the air.

“We don’t dance like that.”

“Oh.”

There were slits in the sleeves from shoulder to elbow.  “What are those for?”

“I don’t think they have a specific purpose.”

“They’re like air vents – they’ll keep you cool on the dance floor. Or, you could put your cell phone in there.”

The nineteen year old salesclerk assured me the dress was an appropriate length for a high school dance.  “Would your father let you wear it?”

“Absolutely.”

Liar.

The shoes were next.  We headed to Southpoint mall.  She knew what she wanted:  Nude (color, not a state of dress), patton (means shiny), pumps (unrelated to the gas station).  Easy to find – but expensive to me.

Ends up that all of the girls checked their shoes at the coat closet when they arrived at the dance.  That means that those shoes cost about $1 per minute of wear.

I think the best part of the evening came when at about 10 pm, Jesse texted DJ with these two pictures and the following message:

Who looks better in your dress? Michelle, you or me?

Yes – Jesse and Michelle had taken pictures of themselves in DJ’s formal dress earlier in the week with the sole purpose of harassing her in the middle of her date.

I cannot tell you how much joy that one act has brought to my life.

Conversation Starters by Michelle

Posted by Danny

On Monday, Jesse and I were on the front porch talking about life – not an unusual occurence.  Michelle can’t stand for two people to be talking without being in the middle of the conversation.  She sort of senses that others have congregated without her, and she quickly finds a way to jump in the middle of the conversation – and in the middle of your lap for that matter.

I’m not 100% sure how the conversation moved to dating, but somehow it did.  And she asked, “Jesse, what do you talk about on a date?”  Jesse responded, “Sometimes it’s easy to talk on a date and sometimes not so much.”  We laughed.

Michelle said, “Jesse, you ought to ask the girl if she can cook.  Because you need that.”  I concurred with her line of thinking and prodded for more.

“What else could Jesse talk about on a date?” I asked. 

She then proceeded to give him a list of ten questions that could be conversation starters.  These were her other suggestions:

Do you like sports?  Because you’re really gonna need to if you marry me?

Do you like weird guys who sing all the time?  

Do you mind guys who wear shirts with holes in them?

Do you like guys who wear black short socks all the time, I mean ALL the time?   Even to church.

Do you mind guys who rock out in a green, old minivan?

Do you like guys who go to weddings almost every weekend?  (wearing short black socks)

Do you like guys who can play any song on the piano, without the music?

Do you like guys who can do math?  Tell her you’re really good at math.

Do you mind a guy who stays out really, really late at night? 

I particularly like the first date opener that includes the reference to marriage!  Clearly a great way to start a new relationship. 

I think he should take these questions on his next date.  I’m not sure it would last that long but it would certainly be interesting to watch!

I Can’t Even Imagine

Posted by Uncle Jesse

I almost wrote this post in February (hence the attempt at an avant-garde photo of the Tanner house Valentine’s wreath). It recently became relevant again.

Danny says he could take all the posts I’ve “almost written” and we’d have two blogs: The Real Full House blog and The Posts That Almost Made It Out Of Jesse’s Head And Onto The Real Full House blog. He’s a funny guy. But point taken–I’m not quite as good as Danny with the consistency piece.

Another thing I’m not as good as Danny at is listening. The guy is a human sounding board. I can’t imagine what it’s like for him having to feign interest in all the inane sports stuff I throw at him. Not that I think he’s a phony–he tells me his general interest in sports has grown (and I can attest that his knowledge has), and I believe him. Perhaps I just find it impossible for anyone else to care about the difference between the NBA and college basketball traveling rule. But you know what I’m good at? Talking. So I prattle on. And, even while cooking dinner, he plays the role of the engaged listener well, maintaining eye contact (glancing down briefly to empty the trash) and asking follow-up questions.

The same goes with stories about my weekends, my triumphs and frustrations with trying to start and grow and small business with my good friend, and the stupid MTV shows I watch. I don’t mean to suggest he gets nothing out of it–I do enjoy sharing music with him and I know he likes adding to his collection of tunes. I can’t yet tell if he’s sold on Chapelle’s Show, which I’ve been making him watch as Comedy Central replays them in summer, but he takes my word for it when I tell him the show was seminal, and thus puts up with the episodes I make him watch.

Some of my favorite conversations with him are about God. We talk about things we’ve read, or heard in church, or had explained to us but disagreed with. We both approach the subject with curiosity and humility. As Danny will attest, when I am certain I am right about something I will plow through any argument to the contrary (and enjoy the challenge along the way–perhaps a little too much). But most times these conversations involve phrases, “I think what makes the most sense in my head,” and “what I try to do is…”. The discussions always have the feel of two people trying to help each other learn more about a vastly complex subject, and I like that.

But there’s one thing that–though as we’ve talked about life and love and Lord, it has come up–I have trouble dumping on the guy:

How do you turn to a guy who lost his wife, best friend, lover, and mother to his three beautiful daughters….and complain about a broken heart?

Dads Against Daughters Dating

Posted by Danny

This is my favorite t-shirt.  D.A.D.D.:  Dads Against Daughters Dating. 

Two summers ago, DJ was at the beach with friends.  I received a call from her in the middle of the day.  I was at work.  “Dad, I found a t-shirt I think you’re really going to like.  It says Dads Against Daughters Dating.  It’s $11.  Do you want me to buy it?”

“Are you crazy?  Buy two!!  I’ll have the money waiting for you when you walk in the door.”  Every time I wear it a father comes up to me to find out where I got it.  I proudly announce that my oldest daughter bought it for me.

I guess I have dating on my mind this week because the school dance is on Friday.  I’m fine for DJ to go.  I just don’t want her to go with a boy.  And frankly, I’d just assume her not dance with one either. 

I used to share my dating philosophy with Lisa.  She would home-school the girls when they got old enough to date.  That would insure that there weren’t a lot of opportunities for them to meet the fellas.  They would attend Meredith College, two blocks from our house.  I’d drop them off on my way to work.  After class, they’d wait in the library until I could swing by and pick them up at about 5:30.  We’d come home, start their homework and watch a family movie each night at 10.  

The thought of Lisa homeschooling our kids really does bring a smile to my face.  I’m not sure exactly what would have happened, but I can assure you it would not have been pretty.  And she would readily admit that as I dreamed out loud.

I’m a sap.  I can never give my girls away at their weddings.  I was once in a wedding when the minister asked the father of the bride, “Who gives this bride to be married?”  And the dad responded, “Her mother.”  That’s my kind of man!  I was so counting on Lisa to do the heavy lifting on that special day.  This just adds to my angst about dating.  It just ain’t happenin’ on Dellwood Drive.

I chaperoned the school dance DJ’s sixth grade year.  Lisa was running the student council at school and asked if I’d help.  I gladly volunteered. 

I perched on the bleachers in the gym high enough up to see the goings on.  The principal of the middle school was a hawk – I admired her so.  It’s a Christian School so she could rightfully walk through the crowd during the slow dance yelling, “Leave room for Jesus!  Leave room for Jesus!”  The kids laughed, but their arms got stiffer, exactly as Mrs. Reedy had planned. 

When I would see one of those beady eyed eighth grade boys snuggling up a bit too close, I’d leave my seat and stroll close to him.  I was sure to catch his eye.  A cold stare from a forty-year old.  Brow furroughed.  Chest poked out.  Eventually the kid would get uncomfortable.  Was it my demeanor?  Or was he just freaked out by the weirdo in the gym?  Didn’t matter. 

Yeah.  Back away buddy – You heard me.  They’d break up and head over to the opposite end of the gym.  My job was done.

I felt I owed it to all of the other fathers who weren’t allowed to attend the dance.  My stare was for all of them.  My presence was a message to all those young boys.  Don’t get too close to our daughters!  Or else.

We have to look after each other guys.  If you see a dude at the mall making out with his girl, it’s your duty to intervene.  Wouldn’t you want that if it was your daughter?  Walk right up – demand that they stop.  Offer to call her father, she’s probably dying to get away.  Call the cops if necessary.  This is important. 

Get out there men!  Take a stand.

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