Family Weekend Over: Didn’t Find My Dad


By Mady Johnston

When I first heard that Family Weekend was approaching, I was a little afraid of the parents I would meet: serial killers, Republicans or maybe even Vlad the Impaler. But then I was met with such grand excitement when I realized my dad might be there! I know it’s been a while, but he swore he’d be back. Why couldn’t Parents’ Weekend be the time he makes his reentrance? I started looking at events to see where I could find him. 

I didn’t think he’d be too interested in “Vanderbilt Parent Ambassadors: How to Get Involved.” “Career Center Conversations” wouldn’t be too good for him; he never knew how to talk about his job. “Supporting Your ‘Big Fish’ in Our ‘Big Pond’”? That’s it! He loves fishing. I sat through the whole panel before I realized it was about mental health, not fishing. Honest mistake. I almost stayed though because, like my dad, it takes the University Counseling Center a long time to reach out.

I thought, “Where else could he be?” Fall for the Arts! He was a big advocate of supporting local artists and always tipped dancers well. I raced over to Commons. I couldn’t have missed him, right? I decided to wait there and enjoy the wonderful performances. This was so lovely! I think I was falling for the arts. What’s this? Cider?!? I started drinking the free cider that they offered and then quickly threw it out of my hand in a panic. My dad won’t come up to me if he knows I’m gay! I had to stand as still and as straight as possible, or else I’d scare him like his own shadow on Groundhog Day. I stayed there until morning.

Saturday, I went to the frats for tailgating. I don’t know why. My dad wouldn’t be able to name three of my brothers, let alone three of theirs. No dice.

I started spiraling. Maybe he was just around town! Surely that was it. But I checked the Kroger and the Dairy Queen. If he wasn’t there 20 years ago, he wouldn’t be there now.

I thought, “Maybe his secretary forgot to put it in his calendar? Maybe she forgot to tell him?” But no! He’s with his secretary all the time and she’s always booking business trips for the two of them.

I leave this weekend defeated like the football team. I didn’t find my dad. Oh well. What’s 20 more years? At least I saw Mark Cuban!

  • October 16, 2023