The real story behind Utah County dad's viral short-shorts photo
Editor's note: This post by Utah County resident Scott Mackintosh originally appeared on his wife's website, Becky Mack's Blog of Mild Chaos. It has been reprinted here with permission. Along with permission to repost his explanation, Mackintosh shared this statement: "I simply did this in hopes that my daughter would know of my great love for her and that she knows of her great worth. Now that it has gone viral, I hope that young women everywhere understand their great worth. I will look like an idiot any day if that point gets across."
I did something spontaneous a week ago today (Sept. 3, 2013). I am shocked how fast things can spread via social media. And even more surprised how fast the story has changed in just one week. Within 24 hours of my wife and children posting this photo, we were being told it had gone viral. My kids were using terms an old dad like me is not familiar with, such as 70,000 notes on tumblr, favorited on Twitter, re-tweeted, shared etc. Friends were reporting they were seeing it posted on Buzzfeed, Redneck sites and other random sites.
Most have the story twisted (because of how my daughter worded it on her own tumblr blog). Thus the story ...
This is the REAL story behind the short-shorts!
I know the world has varying degrees of what is modest and what is not when it comes to clothing. In our family we have pretty definite modesty guidelines: no mid-drift or low-cut shirts, no short-shorts, short skirts and we even go as far as saying no sleeveless shirts unless playing sports or on the beach. Having raised four daughters and three sons, I'm a bit protective. Some may call me old fashion, but I call it "a dad who loves his daughters" (and sons, too). I know some of you may be rolling your eyes and that's OK; my daughter does it all the time.
I'm a firm believer that the way we dress sends messages about us, and it influences the way we and others act. (OK, OK, I'm the first to admit I look like a redneck, and I may say "crick" instead of "creek," but that's beside the point.) My teenage daughter day after day continues to wear clothing that I, as her father, feel is inappropriate and immodest. Her mother and I feel the same about the importance of dressing modest. With that said, let's move onto the night of the happening.
In an effort to try to spend time with just the family, we reserve our Monday evenings for just that. On this particular Monday, we decided to go out to eat (something we had not done in a very long time) and made plans for after dinner to use our pass-of-all passes to go miniature golfing at Trafalga, a nearby "fun center." I heard my wife ask our daughter if she would please change into some longer shorts before leaving. She said "NO!" Instead of turning her response and disrespectful attitude into a major battle, I decided to make a "small" statement on how her short-shorts maybe aren't as "cute" as she thinks!
I ran into my bedroom as the family was loading into the car. I grabbed some scissors and cut some old worn out pants into a set of short-shorts with the ends of the pockets hanging out the bottom. There was only about an inch of material below the crotch of the shorts. To add frosting to the cake, I looked down and noticed a shirt that my older daughter had given me for Father's Day. At the time I thought, "Where the heck would I ever wear this?" Wow! I just found the perfect moment! I was a bit worried about going through with this, but felt that it was OK to make this statement in the privacy of our own home. I was certain that when my daughter saw me, that would be as far as it would have to go to make the point.
As I walked out to the car I could see my daughter and her brother in the back seat with their heads down focused on their phones. Needless to say, they didn't even notice. I stood by the open driver's side door for a minute and even spoke to them, but their faces stayed focused on their phones. They didn't even glance up. They had no clue of how I was dressed. I then walked about 50 feet in front of the car to meet my wife as she was walking back from feeding our animals. (Hmmm ... something's wrong with this picture. Why was my wife feeding the animals and not one of our teens? Great question.)
My wife said, "What did they think?" I told her that they hadn't even noticed, but I was sure that they had by now. As I returned to the car, it was evident that their faces were still glued to their phones, and they had no idea of the spectacle that stood before them. Well, I had a decision to make. This little plotted scheme did not get noticed, so my thinking that this would end at home quickly changed to, "I guess we're taking it to the road now."
As we were driving and nearly to the Hibachi House restaurant, I heard a camera sound. I looked to see what had just happened at the same time that my wife was being addressed by my children saying, "Why are you taking a picture of Dad?" Immediately my son said, "Oh my gosh, look at Dad!" My daughter then gave her disgusted look and said, "Why are you dressed like that?" followed by "Oh well, I don't care."
As we entered the restaurant, we were greeted by many funny looking stares from a slightly small crowd. "Wow, at least it is a small group that I am making a fool of myself in front of" I thought. Then realized we knew two of the people. They laughed and said they couldn't wait to tell our son-in-law what they had just seen. I gave a quick explanation. They laughed. My son, daughter and wife took a couple of pictures and posted them to social media. We ate dinner and it wasn't a big deal.
My daughter didn't seem to care, however, like I had hoped she would, so the question to myself was, "Do I let it fail or take it to the next level?" Take it to the next level, of course!
"OK, let's go miniature golfing," I said. The family laughed that I might just go through with that we had planned to do before dressing like a spectacle.
As we arrived to the small amusement park, we were met with many stares and pointing fingers as I walked through the lobby and to the miniature golf area. I tried to keep up with my daughter, who had expressed that it didn't bother her, but was not about to let me stay very close to her as we walked through the crowded room. Once we got our clubs and were waiting in line for our turn to start, a couple of girls were "acting" like one was taking a picture of the other when in fact they were lining themselves up for a "Kodak Moment" ... of me! My daughter then being bold said, "If you want a picture of him, just ask. I am sure he won't mind." They were embarrassed and continued to act like that wasn't what they were doing.
Amongst all of the pointing and strange looks, we had a wonderful night of miniature golf and then headed for Arctic Circle for milkshakes. As I pulled into a stall, my daughter said, "Uh, no! We are NOT going in!"
I said, "Sure we are. Let's go!"
"No!" she said, "Let's go through the drive up."
We went in, but she stayed in the car. She had had enough and did not want to go through any further embarrassment.
There was no "Dad, I get it" or "Dad, you're the best ... thanks for that awesome lesson." I don't think my object lesson of "modest is hottest" made the statement I had intended. But no matter if social media gets the story mixed up and twisted, my daughter will always know that her dad loves her and cares about her enough to make a fool out of himself.
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