I’ve seen lots of posts on wigs, tanning lotions, hard shoes, foot injuries and where to buy used solo dresses. My question is, how do you turn an unsuspecting, run of the mill, adult male who spends the entire weekend glued to those insipid sports events on TV into a competition level Feis Dad?
Like most men, my husband lacks social skills, isn’t terribly fashion conscious, and doesn’t always behave appropriately in public. On the plus side, he’s adept with simple hand tools and is potty-trained. I think he might enjoy the Feis scene if I could only find some way to pry him off his butt and get him to one! If I do manage to drag him away from the TV, what should we do at the first Feis? Are there any “hot glove treatments” for Feis Dads?
Distraught Feis Mom
Dear Distraught Feis Mom,
This is always a challenging situation, but don’t worry, he sounds like he has all the makings to become a fantastic Feis Dad! (The lack of social skills got him into the bonus category)
You just have to allow him to discover and embrace his own “Inner Feis Dad”. But first, you have to get him to a Feis.
To accomplish this, you’ll need to cut his umbilical cord to the television set. There is only one way to counter this evil fixation and, as abhorrent and loathsome as this may sound, you’re just going to have to hide the remote. After an initial panic phase, he will go through characteristic stages of denial, anger, and depression and it is particularly important that you allow him adequate time to grieve and cope with his loss. Five minutes should suffice.
For the initial expedition, pick a well organized and smaller Feis, preferably one in which you receive competitor numbers and wrist bands in the mail. The less chaos the better, as you don’t want to overwhelm him early in the training process. A local Feis in which your dancer’s competition doesn’t start until noon is preferred (4:00 am wake up calls and five hour drives will come later). Be gentle, it’s his first time.
When you arrive at the Feis, politely but firmly introduce him as your husband to the other MAIDs. They will no doubt make strange cackling noises while poking and prodding him, but they’ll be less likely to try and steal him from you when they realize he is already encumbered with a dancer.
You should also play “MAID’s” eye for the Feis Guy” and purchase a suitable wardrobe for him. Remember, you want to choose an outfit that will forever bond him to his Irish culture, but not eclipse your own beauty. A Guinness shirt should do just do just fine. You may also want to accessorize it with that nice brooch, bracelet or other pricey bauble for yourself. Remember, Feis fashion is somewhat of an injustice in that women must spend hours achieving the “perfect look” before sallying forth, while Feis dads need only to dig their Guinness shirt out of the dirty laundry.
Show him the Feis basics and answer any questions he has. Gloss over which dance is which as even 4th degree Feis Dads are still somewhat fuzzy on that issue. Knowing how to pronounce “Ghillies” will be enough on the first day outing. To keep him entertained, give him a menial task like tracking the stage schedule. Remember, it’s his first Feis, keep it simple.
At this point in the game, I would also refrain from introducing him to the other Feis dads. When three or more of us get together, a “pack mentality” sets in and our male instincts take over. Unless you want your husband to learn how to play “Danny Boy” using armpit noises, steer clear of the pub scouts until the second or third outing. If he wants to play with the other dads, tell him that he should go shopping for a decent reversible chuck, variable speed, cordless drill first. It will peak his interest and give him something to do next weekend. And besides, you’re laying the foundations for a practice stage at home for your dancer.
I can’t divulge any secret Feis Dad qualification rituals without risking a life in the Feis Dad Witness protection program. Suffice to say, if found worthy, he will be selected to participate in the sacred rite of stage construction at an upcoming Feis.