Me & my dad.
Today is my dad’s birthday and I thought it was appropriate to write a public birthday card to him here, because the first main man in a girl’s life is her father, and I happened to win the dad lottery. Whoever I was going to end up with (Tony, as it so happens), was going to have tough shoes to fill because my dad Murry (or MurMan, as Tony affectionately calls him) is simply the best.
He is a lawyer and winemaker hailing from Abilene, Texas. He loves golf, chardonnay, Cheetos, fancy chocolate, Frito pie, traveling, the Dallas Cowboys and making my mom happy. He’s the definition of a family man.
Dad & his kids. I was rebelling by wearing a “skank” top and zero UT gear.
He volunteered in my classrooms as a kid, figured out how to braid hair and put together an interesting take on a bun when he was in charge of prepping me for ballet class or tap lessons, and drove carpool in the morning and countless field trips. Because he made zinfandel, his hands were stained purple from the grapes; everyone knew our car was the fun one, because it was stocked with Cheeto Puffs and had wine barrels rolling around in the back.
And when my dream of getting into the Groundlings Sunday Company came true, he and my mom drove down nearly every weekend (6 hours each way, with their giant dogs in the back seat), for 6 months so they never missed a new sketch I wrote. My dad always loved them, even when I wrote things that would make most dads ashamed, like my personal favorite, a haggard, busted-up stripper relegated to the lunch shift. Despite my debatable life choices, he was always so proud. (And, because Tony and I met performing in the Sunday Company together, my dad saw him many times before we started dating; he could never remember his name, so he always referred to him as “the strong one.”)
He used to rock a mustache, until he made an ill-fated bet with my mom that, if he lost, he had to shave the ‘stache. (He lost.) (I’m considering making a similar bet with Tony, who hasn’t had his hair cut in months, in what I’m sure is an attempt to look like Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall.) He loves Hawaiian shirts and short, brightly colored shorts to garden in; he used to have a pair of burgundy ones that I remember him wearing most weekends for most of my childhood. I think my mom “accidentally” threw them away.
My dad, rocking his favorite look.
His grandparents owned a cafe and his grandmother got her family through the Depression by baking cakes; she was that good, that even with the economy in tatters, people still bought her cakes. My dad inherited her cooking skills and makes the best fudge and lemon bars you’ve ever tasted. My mom passed her great obsession with the Academy Awards on to me, and the day of the Oscars, she and I would park it on the sofa first thing in the morning to watch coverage all day long, and Dad would cook treats for us and serve them on trays with bottomless champagne glasses full of Martinelli’s for me.
My dad’s dad, who showed him how to be the best dad, is in the background.
He used to dress up as Elvis every Halloween and, every Christmas, as Santa Claus for the country club’s holiday party. His best friend Snowman would roll up to our house in his golf cart, dressed like an elf, and together they’d ride their “sleigh,” sippy cups full of chardonnay in hand, to the party.
I don’t think this was a Halloween look, I think it was just a fancy party.
He officiated my best friend and Matron of Honor Jacquelyn’s wedding, who I’ve known since I was 2. On Halloween, he and Jacquelyn’s dad Burt would drive us around the neighborhood in Burt’s golf cart to trick or treat, whipping us past the neighborhood pond as they told spooky stories and my dad snuck the candy my mom didn’t want to have from my bag. (He always kept a candy stash in Burt’s golf cart when my mom had him on a diet, which Jax and I took full advantage of when we were kids.)
At Jacquelyn’s wedding.
People always tell me I look like my mom, and I know I inherited a lot of personality traits from her, too — including my love for animals and bold choices when it comes to bringing them into the family. When I was four and my little brother was a newborn, my mom decided I needed a baby to take care of too (probably so I’d stop harassing her), and she got me a kitten. And (much like Tony, when I surprised him by adopting a puppy while he was in Vegas at a bachelor party), my dad let me and my mom keep Daisy the green-eyed baby cat.
My dad’s law office was across the street from my high school. Every Friday, he let me invite whoever I wanted over on our lunch break, and when we arrived, he’d have the patio set up with a smorgasbord of Jamba Juice, burritos, donuts and whatever else we could think of. Every week.
Before senior prom.
He loves classic rock, and used to be in a band. At our wedding, he wants to perform a song with Tony’s dad who, coincidentally, also used to be in a band. (Tony and I are worried if we allow this, they will never get off the stage.)
He’s a better writer than me (did you read his tips on how to throw a $100 wedding yet?!) and has always supported and believed in me, even when I didn’t. Hollywood lives up to most of its nasty cliches, and my dad is always there to let me vent and offer advice and encouragement.
He was the type of dad who always told me I was beautiful, even when I rocked looks like this one.
And, my dad (and mom) are generously giving Tony and me the wedding of our (my) dreams, which makes it all the more important I put in the public wedding blog record how special he is. A few weeks ago, my mom and I were talking about music for the wedding and what all of the significant songs should be, and she suggested “Turn Around” by Harry Belafonte for my first dance with my dad. Somehow, I’d never heard it, so we found it on YouTube. And both started full-on weeping. There’s no way we’re playing that, everyone will be sobbing!
So, I asked my dad what song we should pick. He thought long and hard, and then eagerly, genuinely suggested: “Hey! How about Chumbawamba? That Tubthumper-something one? You used to love that song, we listened to it in carpool every day!” That alone, I think, sums my dad up. He’d dance to Tubthumping in a tux, in front of everyone he knows, if he thought it would make his little girl happy.
Father’s Day, 2014.
Happy birthday, Dad! I love you!