I spend a lot of my time sitting on hard plastic chairs, waiting for my kids to be done with things.

Last Monday was no exception.  Well, for me anyway.  Even though it was Presidents' Day, school was in session and Cooper had his regular Monday morning thing at the local library.

I dropped him off at the classroom door and found a seat in the corner.  Not long after I was joined by not one, but two dads that I didn't recognize.  However, since they both came attached to two little girls I DID recognize, I assumed they had the day off work or some such and had brought their kids in. 

I'm smart like that.

Both these guys were salt of the earth, good old boy types who looked like twins in their Levi's, flannel shirts, work boots and gimme caps* and it became apparent almost immediately that they knew each other from somewhere. 

After a brief awkward nod/notquitesmile greeting I studiously avoided eye contact because Pleasedon'tmakesmalltalkwithmePleasedon'tmakesmalltalkwithmePleasedon'tmakesmalltalkwithme, but I shouldn't have worried.  These guys had plenty to talk about with each other.

I sat there, not really paying much attention to what was going on around me, lost in my own thoughts as I often am and pretending to read a magazine that I had no real interest in, when I caught a few of the words that were being exchanged between these men.  Instead of discussing sports, or hunting, or cars, or whatever else I imagined these two good old boys might have in common, they were discussing... dresses?

"Well, her dress for that pageant was pank," said Guy One, "But not like baby pank.  It was more like a bright pank.  And it had that ruffly bidness all up under it so it looked twirly all the time." he went on.

Guy Two nodded seriously.  "We thought about pank," he said.  "We ended up going with kinda a green color one.  She wore it once already, last year at Little Miss Happy Sunshine  (I totally made that part up because I can't remember where she wore it before) but she really likes it because it's got all them sparkly thangs all down the front of it.  Ya know?  Whatsit called? SEE-KWENTS? "


What I had before me was apparently the rare species of Redneck Pageant Daddies.  Who knew such a thing even existed in the world?

By the time I worked out what they were talking about, they had moved from pank dresses with the ruffly bidness on to their opinions on pageant hair, pageant makeup for little girls (they are both opposed, by the way, but both defer to their "women" in these matters) and pageant judges.

"Sometimes I think it ain't how ya look or how ya do, I think it's about who ya know and who your granddaddy is," Guy One said with a little more force than was necessary, but Guy Two heartily agreed, citing at least two examples of winners who probably shouldn't have won, but who happened to know suchandsuch or soandso and that's probably why.

By this time I was listening intently to everything these two guys were saying to one another while studiously trying to appear that I wasn't listening in because it was such a fascinating juxtaposition to hear these quite manly men having such an intense and earnest conversation about their little girls in beauty pageants.

The talked the whole hour about their little girls, proudly discussing wins and solemnly excusing losses.  They covered the entire gamut of pageant intricacies, then covered it again, their attention and conversation never straying from this thing that was so clearly important to their four year old girls and so by extension, to them.

Sometimes people can still surprise me, and sometimes I get a fabulous and swift lesson not to judge a book by its cover, or a good ole boy by his gimme cap.

And sometimes, if I listen really carefully to the people around me I can learn really important lessons, like about how people really care about what their kids are doing, or how awesome random daddies who are spending their Monday mornings sitting in hard plastic chairs can be, or the difference between baby pank and bright pank.

And sometimes, if I really listen, it's pretty darn awesome.

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* A gimme cap is a baseball style cap, also known as a trucker's hat, that sports the logo of a feed store, a car dealership, a brand of dog food or the details of an event like, say, a mud pull or a rodeo.  They are called this, I assume, because they are given out for free as advertisement.  Seriously, look it up.  It's a real thing. 


  1. You really got me at the end of this wonderful story. You're so right. Sometimes when we take the time and really listen, we discover that other people are so much more than what we pin them as.

    Loved this!

  2. You had me a "baby pank" ... that graphic nearly made me pee my pants!!!

  3. I like to think that I'm pretty open minded but sometimes I see what I think is there instead of what it really is, if that makes any sense at all.

  4. You know, that color was never in my crayon box as a kid. Maybe I should write to Crayola...

  5. I was dying laughing about the baby pank and ruffly bidness! I know one such daddy whose daughters are big time into pageants (I'm still waiting to see them show up on Toddlers and Tiaras) and it used to strike me as odd that he was as into it as he was. But at least these guys are taking an interest in what their children are doing!

  6. Gimme as in gim me, like give me? I've never heard of that. You learn something new every day. And I love this. I enjoy the "pank." I have relatives in NC and I love to listen to how they pronounce certain words. What I riot. But I love this story…so true. I am always trying to teach my daughter how you should never, ever judge a book by its cover. You just never know. And I always have to remind myself. Thanks for sharing MJ!

  7. This post is very true. You shouldn't judge a person by their appearance. Ha about the pank thing.

  8. It seems odd to me, too. But I guess it's hard to fault them when they seem to care so much. I still giggle when I think about the ruffly bidness :)

  9. Yes - gim me = give me. As in give it to me, because it's free. Among people in Kentucky I'm often told that I don't have a country or southern accent at all but put me in a room of northerners and they are always saying "Oh say it again! You sound so southern!!!"" I could probably do a whole post (or maybe a book) on things people say around here that aren't really said anywhere else ;)

  10. I think pank is my new favorite color ;)

  11. Haha that's funny! You should write something about that. I have a cousin who has such a deep southern accent, that I need a translator! And people say I have an accent because I live in New England. I don't hear it. Whatever...

  12. I for one needed the explanation of a gimme cap! Too funny.
    I love your storytelling voice that comes through so strongly in this piece. It makes the discovery of shared experience (albeit not beauty pageants) of parent love that much more personal.

  13. Thank you so much for saying that about my storytelling voice! This is the exact voice that echoes in my head ALL THE TIME but sometimes it's harder to get it into written form than others.

  14. What a great slice of life story! And a good lesson for us all!


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