This is a tribute to two men who could not be more different: my dad also known as papilao and my hubby/best friend/therapist/adult child. Today, on Father’s Day I am going to celebrate one thing they do have in common: their strong belief in women.
My dad is a schizophrenic man who in front of his community would blurt out the most horrifying sexist things but had married an eccentric feminist and raised 3 independent daughters. He would say things like these in front of his neighbors and buddies:
– ‘their relationship is never gonna work out because she is more educated than he is’.
– ‘if you live with him without getting married, you are a lost woman. You are a lost daughter to me.’
-‘Wife, daughter fetch us some glasses’.
And I would go all Germaine Greer on him and bark at him in front of everyone . It was infuriating because behind closed doors, he would mop the floor, do the laundry, and cook every family meal. He self taught all these skills because for a Lao man of his age he is somewhat of an alien. I remember him honing his Larb gai or spaghetti polog -naiis (bolognese) recipes on us as kids. We would be served the same overcooked or over salty dish every single meal for a whole week until he got a new obsession. Unfortunately for us his Algerian couscous/beef goulash period lasted forever …yuck. Thirty years later, at any community gathering, my dad still checks into the kitchen – male free zone for the Lao- and bickers with dozens of women about whether or not to add more Nam pha (fish sauce) in the Kheng Het (a fairly complex Lao mushroom and bamboo stew). And you can hear all women laugh and tease him. I once heard some tell my mom: ‘You are lucky. He is different, he taunts us but he respects our work. He walks the talk, right?’
Yes it was infuriating because I wanted my dad to shut his buddies up whenever they were acting like pashas instead of playing their game. I wanted more of my dad. And one day DH told me: ‘you are not being fair, he is expected to play this role in society but you know better‘. He was right.
In a sense DH sometimes feel the same…at work. He works on a trading floor in a high testosterone filled environment. In his way, he is going against the mainstream culture by not drooling over the hot women fighting their corner, by pushing for the hire of not so pretty interns, by just respecting women. DH is a women’s man- the only type of real men. I guess I am lucky to have these two men in my life who always root for me.
Quote from my dad: ‘I did not raise my daughters to bow in front of any men, Lao or French, king or valet.’
My now answer: ‘I do not. DH makes sure I and our daughter P will never have to.’