The Tina Yothers Incident

Among our closest relatives, my father has a reputation for two things: a terrible, terrible memory, and... what was the other thing? Oh yeah: a proclivity for placing his foot in his mouth.

One night when I was about seven or eight, while watching Family Ties, my Dad makes an off-the-cuff remark that Tina Yothers is the ugliest little girl he has ever seen. The rest of us chime in with our own opinion, which boils down to this: she's no Justine Bateman, but she's not a total dog either. But my dad doesn't agree--he insists that she has to be the ugliest little girl, ever. And when he continues to emphatically argue this as a matter of scientifically proven fact, the rest of us give a collective shoulder-shrug in an "if you say so" gesture of compliance.

The thing is, in the early days of Family Ties before Jennifer hit puberty, Tina Yothers and I had a few things in common. We were about the same age, same height, same weight. We both had long, straight blonde hair. The resemblance ended there, but we did share some basic traits. Still, I thought nothing of this.

So it came as a total surprise when, while watching Family Ties a few weeks later, Dad turned to me and said, "You know what, Darci? You look just like that little girl on Family Ties."

Within seconds, the uncontrollable bawling began.

The others gave me a puzzled look as I hiccupped and struggled to contain my sobs. Finally I managed, "You... said... she... was... UGLY!!!!"

My brother started laughing hysterically ("You DID, Dad! You said that!"). He was experiencing some sort of euphoria he had never before imagined possible. At the top of his game he coudn't have dreamed up a more cruel, hilarious, and emotionally-scarring blow; my father had saved him years of work. That might have been the happiest moment of his entire life.

My mom tried desperately to hold back her own laughter; she nodded in affirmation at my father, confirming his guilt. Even he attempted not to smile as he started to dig a hole so deep that (even now, over two decades later) he still hasn't managed to climb out.

"What? I didn't say that.... Did I? No, I only meant... I didn't mean it like that..."

Every time that show comes on TV, every time we see Michael J. Fox on anything, and pretty much every Christmas, my mom, my brother and I relive that night. We laugh about it still; even I can appreciate it's hilarity, if at my own expense.

My Dad still swears he doesn't remember ever saying that.

About the author:

Darci Ratliff is a writer/producer, and the editor of ("Its the reason I invented the internet!" --Al Gore). Her dream is to write for CRACKED Magazine, or make out with Owen Wilson. Ask her about her underpants.

Click here for Part I of the My Family is Better than Yours series.