words:Stoney Stamper images: April Stamper
I can feel the tall wisps of bahiagrass grazing across the naked calves of my legs. It’s been raining this afternoon, so it is miserably muggy, but thankfully I’m not heavily dressed. In fact, I’m fairly scantily clad. I’m standing in the middle of our tall, green pastures wearing a pair of denim Daisy Dukes, orange-topped cowboy boots, a red kerchief around my neck and my trusty cowboy hat. No shirt. I repeat, no shirt. And my shorty shorts just barely cover my flat, barely-there alabaster behind. I squat down in the grass and give a mirthful, far looking gaze, looking off into the sunset, pondering life. There’s the distinct click click click of a camera only a few feet away. Behind the lens of that camera stands my beautiful wife. She’s grinning from ear to ear, giving direction as though I were a Victoria’s Secret runway model. “Ok, now bend at your hips and put your arms up on that fence. Good. Perfect. Ok, now pick up that saddle and start walking away from me. Great. That’s perfect.” Then, as the game finale, our miniature horse Dink comes walking by. It’s like a sign from God himself. I throw a leg over his back, and since he was so short, both my feet are on the ground as I straddle him. Again, I look off into the sunset, like a cattle boss driving cows across the deserts of West Texas, headed for the plains. Except, ya know, I’m almost naked, and sitting on a miniature horse.
Ok, let me back up a tad and explain exactly how I found myself in this particular predicament. It wasn’t by choice, I assure you. In fact, I was completely and totally against this from the very beginning. My wife, April, had seen this new fad beginning among middle-aged men with what has become known as “the dad bod.” In the spirit of women’s “boudoir” photos, which are sexy pictures (generally of females) taken for their significant other, these pictures would become known as “dudeoir” photos. Men, usually bearded men with big bellies, dress in short cut-off shorts, or perhaps just a pair of underwear, along with work boots or cowboy boots, a hard hat or a cowboy hat, and not much else. It’s all in good fun, of course. But even for a man, such as myself, I’m still a tad insecure for all the world to see my pudgy, pasty beer belly hanging over a pair of short denim shorts.
April had asked me a dozen times to do these pictures for her, but I just couldn’t make myself do it. For the last decade, I’ve been a bit of a fitness fanatic. I watch my weight and exercise daily. But a couple of years ago, I had a pretty significant back injury that required surgery, and since then, it’s been really difficult, if not nearly impossible, to stay in shape. So, there was no way in the world I was going to let all the followers of The Daddy Diaries see me in next to nothing. “No. No, no, no,” I said over and over.”I’m not doing it.” But then one day, I came home from work, and she was playing dirty. She was crying. She was upset and sad because of something that had happened that day. She knows I can’t stand to see her cry. She had a supremely unfair advantage. In my despair, I looked over at our dresser where her briefcase sat, with the lens of her camera just peeking out the top. I knew what I had to do. As much as I hated it, I knew that I could fix this. But I was going to have to swallow my pride and make a huge sacrifice. With much hesitation in my voice, I said, “So, are you still wanting to do those pictures of me? Ya know, those dudeoir photos?”
Her head sprung up at me with a glisten in her eye. But not from sadness this time. Oh no. It was pure joy. “Yes!” I said, “OK. Well, I guess, what do you want me to wear?” She said, “Stay right there!” When she came back, she had a large pair of scissors, which certainly gave me pause. I said, “What are you going to do with those?” She replied, “I’m cutting those jeans!”
And right there, with me still wearing them, she cut my ninety-dollar jeans into booty shorts. I’ve never been more nervous for someone to use a pair of scissors in my whole life. Next, the older girls, Abby and Emma, saw their dad walking out of the house in nothing but booty shorts, boots, and a cowboy hat. Oh, and we can’t forget the kerchief. This obviously brought on some pretty puzzled looks and disgusted stares. “What are you guys doing?” asked Abby. “Nothing to see here. Go in the house. Close the curtains. Turn on a movie and forget we are out here. Do. Not. Look out here.” Frankly, I’m not sure I could afford their psychiatrist bills if they were to see what was about to happen. I was beginning to get anxious. I could feel myself chickening out. But this was for April. I had to do it for her. She’s a photographer after all, and the smart money says that when she shares these pictures, they’re going to go viral. So, I gritted my teeth, and I posed. I posed as hard as I could pose. I gave her everything I had. The sexy look. The faraway look. The crooked, sexy smile that she likes so much. I went through the whole bag of tricks. I was embarrassed. A tad humiliated because I’m quite certain that our neighbors were watching. But something else happened. I looked at April, and she was smiling. She was smiling! She had forgotten about whatever had happened earlier in the day. I had pulled her out of her funk, with some cut off jean shorts, a minimal amount of physical effort and a whole bunch of humility.
The thought of this whole situation made me cringe. It made me feel sick at my stomach. But in the whole scheme of things, if that’s all that I’ve got to do to make my girl happy, well hey, I’ll do it every day and twice on Tuesdays. Going to have to buy some outfits though. Can’t keep the same outfit every day. People tend to ask, “What would you do for love?” But for April, what WOULDN’T I do? The answer is, I’d do just about anything those big brown eyes asked of me.
is the author of the popular parenting blog, The Daddy Diaries. He and his wife April have three daughters: Abby, Emma and Gracee. Originally from northeast Oklahoma, the Stampers now live in Tyler, Texas. For your daily dose of The Daddy Diaries, visit Stoney on Facebook or on his website, thedaddydiaries.net.