Last night, apparently Bill and Chelsea Clinton had a father-daughter date. And unlike the more neurotic amongst us, she probably never worries that people think she's her father's younger girlfriend.
I adore my dad, and we hang out all the time. Movies, meals, shows — he's one of my very favorite companions. But I'm always paranoid that people will think I'm some kind of trophy girlfriend. We don't look much alike, and as much as the creepy factor, I worry that people will judge him for being with someone young enough to be his daughter. So I loudly call him "Dad" in front of waiters and busboys and glare at anyone who I fancy is being insinuating.
Last year, he and I took a trip to Eastern Europe. It was one of the great vacations of my life, but I expended a great deal of energy on dispelling what I presumed were people's misconceptions. "MY FATHER would like a wake-up call," I'd say, or "PAPA, wouldn't you like some water?" I even learned how to say it in Polish — "Tata" — and occasionally threw that in for good measure in cabs, restaurants and museums.
When I think about this in rational moments, I suspect this is highly neurotic. I suspect that most women don't feel this way. I also strongly suspect that no one is either watching or judging. (That said, once I was walking arm-in-arm with my grandfather — at 15 — and a woman came up to ask me if I was related to this man or needed help, which was deeply traumatic.) Still, I asked around to see if any of my friends felt this way. Several said the resemblance was strong enough that it was a non-issue. Others said no and seemed vaguely disturbed. "I thought I was the only one!" said one. And, on impulse, I asked a male friend whether he'd ever experienced this anxiety with his mom. "Not with my mom," he wrote. "But I once worried, in a dodgy-looking German Wirtshaus, whether people might think that I was my father's younger boyfriend."