My big brother is in law school (so we like the networking feature of law school). You’ve heard me mention his blog several times before, and I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty funny and he sometimes has good ideas for me to expound upon. In a recent post, my brother recounts his experience meeting the Chief Judge of the Middle District of N.C. (pretty impressive, huh? Well, just in case you missed it, our dad is a pretty important fella and people know him and yes, he does have many leather bound books. And yes, his office smells of rich mahogany). As soon as he was introduced, the judge said “let me tell you a story about your father” and proceeded to tell my brother the story of how my dad swung from a vine during an Indian Princesses retreat years ago. Now, this brings back many memories for me, as I am the Indian Princess at the center of this story (of course, when are my stories centered around anyone but me?)
The YWCA used to offer an Indian Princess program, which nowadays is probably considered completely un-PC and totally racist on many levels, but I mean really, do we care that much? It is similar to that movie with Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Tim the Tool Man Taylor about Indian Guides, only for girls. The point I think was that fathers and daughters could do outdoorsy things (ie manly) together to bond yet the girls would still feel like girls (ie princesses). I don’t really know. I do know, however, that my dad was given the Indian name Strong Eagle, and I, Morning Dove. Actually, I’d appreesh if everyone would start calling me Morning Dove from now on. It’s a majestic name, and I think I can locate the necklace if need be. We were given, and this is NO lie, brown felt dresses to wear – dress for lack of a better word as it had a hole cut out of the top for our heads and it just draped over us, sort of like a sandwich board, only felt and soft - and headbands and get ready, FEATHERS to wear in our headbands. I distinctly remember receiving a yellow, an orange and a red feather for my head. We also had bracelets to wear and necklaces made out of buffalo teeth or some other animal that Indians are known for hunting. We would sit around at meetings, dressed in our garb and do who knows what. I honestly don’t remember anything about Indian Princesses except what I have told you, and what I am about to tell you (also, Indian Princesses is where I was not allowed to jump on the trampoline at a friend’s house because Strong Eagle didn’t want his dove to get hurt. So yes, I was in college before I ever really jumped on a trampoline).
The aforementioned retreat was at Camp Cheerio, a camp in the beautiful mountains of NC. I remember having a pow wow (yes) but I do not remember any hunting for wild boars or buffalo while we were there, so unfortunately, we did not bring home any meat for our wife or papoose. The thing I most remember has made an impact on me that has honestly affected me my whole life. Now, at Camp Cheerio, all of us were in a cabin together. The dads stayed on one side and the princesses stayed on the other. I was like 6 at this point and everything made an impression on me. It was literally freezing that weekend, and all of the dads were walking around their side of the cabin (with no doors mind you) in their tighty whiteys before bed. I’m not sure why this wasn’t considered inappropriate, but at this point in time, it was not. Then you have my dad, who was wearing slippers and a full set of pajamas. For as long as I’ve known my dad, he has worn full pajamas. As in button up long sleeve and long pant pajamas. And slippers. He has ALWAYS worn slippers and if he can’t find his slippers, he’s worn penny loafers. Now, as a 6 year old, you can imagine what a sight this was to behold, especially in the midst of about 15 other grown men who are wearing nothing but tighty witeys in the freezing cold. Who were the real men here? When we got back to the homestead, all I could do was tell my mom how embarrassed I was that my dad wore that getup in front of other people. True to my dad’s form though, he was not concerned because he had been the warmest of all the men in the freezing cold, and he had slept the best. He apparently also had the best exercise that weekend since he spent it swinging from vines when he should have been hunting timber for our forest fire (http://leerobertson.blogspot.com/2010/09/lunch-with-federal-judge.html).
When I say this has affected me my whole life, I am not lying. This Dove has thought of Indian Princesses EVERY SINGLE time she has seen her dad in his sleeping attire (and when you shack up with your folks for over a year, that becomes an ordinary thing). A lot of kids get their dad’s neckties, and socks and golf accoutrements for Christmas. We get our dad slippers and pajamas. I grew up thinking my dad was the weirdo for not sleeping in tighty witeys (which is weird to even think about tighty witeys and your dad in the same thought anyway) but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how actually, my dad was the smartie because he a) had no shame and didn’t care about being in with the cool kids, sitting around drinking beer in his underroos (again, I’m not sure this would be considered appropriate these days) and 2) slept SO soundly and warmly, like a bear in hibernation (that’s a nice Indian reference, eh?) and no one else did.
They say it’s what you get out of an experience that matters the most. That’s really well and good, but I’m pretty sure the point of Indian Princesses wasn’t for me to have an image stamped on my brain of a bunch of grown men in tighty witeys and one lone, though strong, Eagle in a full on sleeping suit. Wait. I still have my outfit! So, I guess I got a little more out of it than I thought ;)