black and white photo of many staring

This is a pic of my dad, beyond angry at me for a now-forgotten, teenage transgression. Mom was nearby to catch my look “in reply” and true to form, she was forever camera-ready, eager to capture me at my worst. “I’m saving this…you don’t know how terrible you are.” Sigh. I’d see her mouth move but 90% of the time, I blocked her words. All the better to avoid retaliation…never a good idea with mom. But back to that looook…on dad’s face.

Characteristically when dad’s chin went south, but his gaze remained steady and locked in, I knew I was in big trouble. He wasn’t one to rant and rave (“you-know-who” more than covered that ground). No, he’d simply give that chin down death stare.

Over time, I learned how to silently reply to his piercing, blue-eyed glare. My flippant, I-don’t-give-a-rat’s-patootie look was my best defense, firing back with a chin-up, head tilting retort, as if I had the unlikely assets of tough girl street cred and a posse to prove it:

black and white photo of teen girl staring

Why did I bother? No attempt to challenge his bold, chin-down stoicism diminished the intensity of his ice cold, eyes-only reprimand. He’d hold the look for a moment or two – long enough to ensure “message received” – and then walk away. Done and done.

Oddly, as a very verbal adult, I miss the no-words-required arguments and tussles. Looks alone can convey plenty. Still, once the staring duel was over, I’d add a little huffy breath as he retreated. I wanted to feel victorious, but I knew the truth. Dad was mad, but he moved on, not one to bear grudges.

Why the sharing about staring? Just this – these vintage pics provided an unexpected and potent rewind into family drama, mixed with humor. There is nothing I love more than random AND welcome discoveries…fixing my attention on what matters most.

On a mission, I dove into old bins of family pics this week to fetch snaps for my recent Halloween post and stumbled over these gems. Keepers, especially because these two photos – dad and I engaged in a “you blink first” showdown – fell on the floor FACE UP, as if we were still locked in our standoff. I love that. Found separately, I would’ve skipped right by them, but free-falling out of a box together? They commanded my attention, staring back at me from years past.

So I paused, not caring about the massive mess I created with musty old photos scattered everywhere and I smiled at the pic of my smart papa. Despite my terror teen years, he loved me anyhow, death stare and all. Looking back, I think he knew I couldn’t withstand HIS verbal tirades, in addition to mom’s frequent rants, so he balanced his delivery by going ‘eyes only’. Well, eyes and that chin.

Vicki 😊

20 thoughts on “No Words Needed

  1. You have such a way with words, Vicki. So… I’m glad you’re Verbal Vicki. 😊 But you’re right about non-verbal communication, especially when it comes to dads. Mine could send terror lasering through his eyes, straight to my heart.

    And thank you for sharing the pics. Your dad was very handsome and you were (are) a beauty. And… the pics falling out of the bin face-first like that!! How fun is that?! 🤍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love knowing your papa had the same skill…love the ‘lasering’ description. You are too kind about the ‘way with words’ compliment. Right back at you, friend. And yes — pops was a handsome dude. I’m sure he’s in the hereafter with a beaming grin — thanks to you! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh — and yes to the Vicki weirdness and randomness of those pics being so bold and pushy…see me…see me…they seemed to declare! Thanks for seeing the fun and fantastic in that, too. XO! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Why, thank you, dear Kathleen…my Dottie…my best buddy…you’ve seen me at my best and worst…so I’ll give you extra credit for sticking with me. xo…sending hugs to you today! ❤


  2. I love that these pictures fell out of the bin together and that you told us the story. Because there’s a beautiful love that shines through in these pictures – moments of being angry but locked in relationship nonetheless. Love, love, love your dad! And you, of course!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Wynne. I know, right — almost as if those silly old photos were demanding some ‘air time’. I love when those random things happen AND when I slow down to see them…which is often a problem. You know, that thing we strive for — being in the moment instead of nine steps ahead. xo to you! 😉😘😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a thought FULL and thought-provoking post. I love how you use these old photos to remember that time, when you were a rebellious teen, and your dad did his best to stare you down, but not bring you down (verbally). When I was a teen, my dad spent hours at the dining room table yelling at me. I didn’t do anything wrong except grow up and have different political views than he did. He was trying to “teach” me through his (loud) arguments. They never worked, and I spent a lot of time in my bedroom during dinner. But when I grew up, we grew closer, but never talked politics. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Pam, for reading and sharing a bit about your dad. 🙂 How lovely that you found a way to be close…navigating around the prickly political topics. Oh — and I chuckled about “teaching” with loud arguing. Doesn’t work well at all! 😘 xo to you!

      Liked by 1 person

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