Walking into a room full of tiny tables and chairs is odd enough. A room full of grown people sitting in the tiny chairs at the tiny tables is just freakish. I quietly made my way over to my wife, seated in her tiny chair, and reached for a tiny wooden chair that was next to her. At this point, I was under the assumption I would be able to blend in without any fanfare or undue attention as the teacher was going over the school handbook. Reaching for the tiny wooden chair put a quick end to that illusion as my wife and the teacher both spoke up “Not that one.”
I spun around with the tiny wooden chair in my hand, nearly taking off another mothers head. The teacher smiled nervously at me. “Perhaps this one?" She reached behind her for a tiny plastic chair and handed it to me. I left her hanging for a moment as I looked at the nine other parents eyeballing me, not including my wife. I started to ask if I had picked someone’s ‘special’ chair or throne when she thrust the tiny plastic chair at me, smiling. “This one’s a bit sturdier.”
So there it was. Every parent stared at the six foot two, two hundred and something- something dad with the same thought. “He would have gone down like a ton of bricks.” Which, in after thought, I probably would have. I probably would have busted the chair into shards and splinters, one of them sure to have pierced me from behind like a giant blue Crayola stake through my heart, it’s bloody tip protruding from my chest. My daughter could have come to school the following week (it actually starts this Friday but the funeral and proper mourning…) and stared at the blood stain in the carpet that wouldn’t quite come out and pointed at it for all the other children. ‘This is where my da-da bought it!” She would to. Especially if she found out I had bought it in the fashion of a vampire, which she is currently fascinated with. Vampires. (I get yelled at for having Family Guy or King of the Hill on the television if she is in the room but watching Twilight over and over is okay?!)
I took my tiny plastic chair and sat next to my wife. The next hour was relatively painless. There were two other fathers in the room. I tried to size them up to see who was here because they, like me, missed last years registration. One of the fathers was there alone and I decided he must have forgotten last years registration and the Christmas Pageant. Poor guy.
Half way through the teachers orientation I heard the words ‘bathroom’ and ‘dads’. When I looked up from the handbook I was earnestly trying to memorize to heart, she was staring right down at me. My first thought was why wasn’t she sitting in one of these tiny plastic chairs? We were all balancing (some more than others) our adult asses in a seat that could barely cradle a grapefruit while she stood looking down on us. I had an image of all the teachers getting together in the music room after we left, pouring shots of Yukon Jack, and laughing over which one of us looked the most ridiculous.
Smiling at me, she said “We prefer the dads use the restrooms in rooms eight and twelve. We ask that they find the teachers in those corresponding rooms first. That way, the teachers can make sure the bathroom is clear of children and then shut and lock the door behind you.” She just stared at me, smiling. I smiled back. She said ‘Right.” She turned to the rest of the parents and said ‘Of course, my solution would be to just have the fathers go to the bathroom before they come to visit.” and she giggled nervously. “But of course, that was to practical and got shot down.”
I suddenly found myself trying to figure out if I needed to go to the bathroom. Not because I wanted to test this whole system out. On the contrary, I wanted to know because my next step would be to think of an excuse to get the hell out of the building. There was no way in hell I was going to use any bathroom while this smiling nut was around. I wanted to raise my hand and ask if there was anything else we should do before we visit. “Excuse me? Yes. I was wondering, would you prefer I give the little woman here a good tumble before I come to visit my daughter? I mean, I get pretty randy sometimes and..Excuse me? Oh. That doesn’t matter? Thank you.”
As she wrapped up, I looked over and saw my wife filling out all the important stuff in her lap, the papers balanced on the folder. Name, family members, date of birth, allergies, etc. Ooh. Special interests. I knew those. I pointed as my wife went right past the lines to fill out for special interests. “Here.” I whispered. “You missed this” Without looking up, my wife whispered “They don’t really need that. It’s not important.”
Not important? ‘The hell, you say!’ I thought. I pointed again. “Of course it’s important or they wouldn’t ask.” I whispered. My wife sighed. “Fine. What do you want me to put down?” “Faeries!” I whispered. My daughter is a total bald-headed freak for faeries. “And mermaids!” My wife started writing. “Princesses! You got to put Princesses!” My wife wrote and sighed '”Anything else?”
I spoke. I answered. I answered her at the same time I happened to look up. I could not stop either action. As I looked up, I saw every eye in the room was on me. Apparently I whisper very loudly. And I was still whispering, loudly, as I looked up. “Yeah. Vampires.” My wife whispered back “I’m gonna hit you.” I thought ‘Yeah. Probably to death in about ten minutes.’ as she continued. “I am not going to put down…..” She was looking up now, as well.
The teacher, smiling still (This woman could put any pageant contestant to shame with her ability to carry on a continuous smile) “Excuse me?” she said. “Did you say ‘vampires’?” My wife snapped ‘no’ at the same time I said ‘yes’. My wife put her head down. “Noah, please don’t…”
I smiled at the teacher. “You see, she…my daughter…has taken an interest in vampires over the past couple months.”
“As in Dracula?” one of the other mothers asked.
“Huh? No. NO. Not Dracula. God, no.” I said. “More like Edward. Twilight?”
I looked back at the teacher. “Not Dracula.”
I heard my wife groan.
“It’s harmless really. Kind of funny, ya know?” The teacher kept grinning. Her eyes spoke volumes. I was losing ground fast.
“I mean, she obsesses…” Her eyes widened. “Not obsesses over vampires! No. She obsesses over everything. You know, Faeries, princesses, mermaids, and…and vampires?”
I felt my wife's hand on my back. I wasn’t sure if she was supporting me or getting ready to rush me out of the room.
“The vampire thing is harmless.” I looked at the other parents. “She’ll probably be over it before school even starts.” In two days.
I looked at the teacher. “And she only does it when she’s mad.”
“Does what, exactly?” It was the father who came by himself. I smiled, thinking he had come to the rescue of another father but when I looked in his eyes I saw real confusion and something akin to fear.
“She kinda ,,,she puts her hands up..” And now I was acting it out. “Like this. Like claws, you know. And she’ll bare her fangs..TEETH..her teeth and come at you hissing like this.” And. I. Hissed.
My wife swallowed her tongue and began to turn blue as I continued hissing, her nails digging into my back.
The teachers smile actually twitched. “Oh, my. Does she bite?”
With my claws out and fangs bared, I looked up at her from my tiny plastic chair. “Huh?”
“Does she bite?”
“BIte?” I looked at her. “NO!” I dropped my claws. “Hell, no! Bite?!?!? NO! She just hisses. We told her she’d get a pop-pop if she ever bit anyone.”
I heard a thud behind me.
“Biting is bad.” I said. “She’s not a biter. She just thinks she’s a vampire. I tried to explain to her that if mommy is not a vampire and daddy is not a vampire, then she can’t be a vampire but she said I was wrong.” I looked at the teacher. “It makes sense if you think about it. She’s pretty smart.”
The teacher just stared at me. “I see.”
I smiled back and at everyone else in the room. ‘She gets it.’ I smiled. I looked back at her. She turned back to the rest of the room. “If you’ll turn to page fifteen, you’ll see the paragraph on discipline.”
The rest was over in a few minutes. My wife, having recovered, asked me to go check out the new music room while she asked the teacher a few questions. I kisses her and went my way. After I checked out the music room, I started wandering around the different tables set up in the gym. I came across one that was looking for volunteers to make Play-Doh. Fucking Play-Doh! I looked up at the teacher that was staffing this most awesome of tables for volunteer sign-ups.
“Play-Doh?” I asked.
She smiled. “Yes.”
“We can make it?!?!” I asked.
“Yes. We may even request certain colors depending on the time of year and need.”
“No. Wait. We can make Play-Doh in different colors? Like red?”
“Yes. All the primary colors and we give you a recipe..”
”No WAY! You have the recipe to make Play-Doh?!?!”
“Yes. And we give you the ingredients in a bag..”
“You have the recipe and the ingredients?!?”
“Yes. Except for the water and oil.”
“Hell, I can get oil. What kind of oil? Where do I sign up?” I looked feverishly for the sign-up paper or a clip board, looking up at her “How much are we talking about?”
“Excuse me?” She asked.
“How much do you need? How much Play-Doh can I make for the kids?”
Nervously she smiled “Well, the ingredients come pre-measured. You can only make so much at one time.”
“Right. But if I wanted to buy more ingredients myself and make more, how much? How much would you want?”
I felt my wife's hand on my shoulder. I turned to her “I get to make Play-Doh for the kids! Freaking Play-Doh. They give us the recipe and the ingredients and..”
She pulled me away from the table. “We have to go. You can make Play-Doh later.” As she pulled me across the gym, I looked back at the table. “But, Play-Doh….”
I heard my wife saying “We’ll talk about Play-Doh later. First we talk..” and I felt nails digging into my arm “…about vampires.”