pa issues

Watching my favorite childhood television show as an adult is an eye-opening experience. Years later, I’m still in love with Little House on the Prairie, but for reasons that would have totally and completely eluded me as a kid.

Like in the very first episode of Season One, Pa breaks his ribs falling from a tree. Good old Doc Baker comes out to Plum Creek to tend to him, and while he’s wrapping Pa’s bare torso in long strips of cloth, it occurred to me:

Holy shit. Charles Ingalls is freaking hot.

Long hours of driving a team of oxen and working at the mill made Pa one cut, burly guy. But it’s not just the working man’s chiseled chest and well-defined arms that make him so rarrr. Oh, no.

Pa is also a total sap. But not in a momma’s boy kind of way, of course. He knows when to play the hardass, but he also knows when to get warm and fuzzy. I can’t help but get a bit choked up when he goes all weepy over a lost wheat crop, or when he’s overcome with pride for Half Pint and Mary. This is a man who’s in touch with his feelings.

Pa loves his wife. He flirts and flatters and grabs her by the bonnet to plant big, prairie kisses on her. And when Ma gets upset, he can’t help but crack a smile. It’s as though it no-so-secretly delights him to see her give up that small measure of control that it requires to get her flustered. Which might be exasperating if it weren’t totally charming.

“Time spent being angry with you is such as waste,” Ma says to Pa one night in bed. But I can’t help but get the feeling that they both enjoy it. Just a little bit.

Pa is a man who knows how to do things. From fiddle playin’ to plowing a field and shingling a roof, Charles Ingalls is a guy with practical skills. It’s the same kind of competence that makes me so giddy over MacGyver and Thomas Magnum. There is nothing sexier than know-how.

And when it’s combined with a fine physique and emotional availability? Well, I’m suddenly a girl with some serious Pa issues.

34 comments to pa issues

  • Tara

    I think I have to go back and watch Little House now.

    (Also, I don’t know how I keep coming here right after you’ve posted. I promise, I’m not crazy obsessed it’s just by chance. Well, okay a little enthralled but not obsessed.)

  • Stephanie

    That sounds a lot better than my secret crush on Uncle Jessie from Full House.

  • Jessica

    Magnum PI….short shorts in Hawaii….he can raise his eyebrows at me any day….mmmm….almost as good as the good ole doctor he played on Friends – I was willing to be Monica any way

  • I’m usually right there with ya when you post about “little House” (Considering I’ve read all the books about a jillion times). But…I’ve never seen the TV show. I will say I’ve seen pictures of the Ingalls family, and the *real* Pa looks like a madman (with his wild hair and scraggly beard). But I digress. They were an amazing family, totally loving and self-sufficient. I bless you that some day you meet a real prairie-man, who’ll say to you, “Heather Baby, who’s yo pa?”

  • See, now I like you even more.

    Did you also want Mr. Edwards to be your uncle?

  • This Fish

    Nah, see, my own father is very much Mr. Edwards. From the crazy beard and flannel to the captivating, far-fetched stories, the sadness and emotional outbursts. I had a Mr. Edwards. And I loved him. :)

  • There is no hotter man than one who is handy and has a soft side. Except for Sonny Crockett.

  • Ari

    How did you just notice Pa’s hotness? I used to love the man. LOVE. Esp. when he’d take Ma on one of their little getaways – he rocked.

  • Maviean

    Oh my God! I’m so glad I’m not the only one…wait until the episodes get a little farther along and then you’ll be taken with Manly (Almanzo, Laura’s Husband). He’s the blonde version on Pa…oh many. I’m glad you feel the sam eway and I’m not the only one out here totally turned on by a handy man like Pa Ingalls!

  • Marce

    hahaha I have to agree with Maviean, Manly was my man from day 1, oh my, that man in all of his blond hotness, that Laura was a saavy girl.

    ‘d have to watch it again to see if I agree with you about Pa’s hotness. Though you probably have a point there because he is definitely easy on the eyes and they did show him bare-chested quite often haha

    I’ll check that out next time they show re-runs.

  • I’m in 100% agreement with you here. I also just watched MacGyver for the first time in years yesterday….my heart is still fluttering!

  • Megan

    YES! I never had a crush on Pa but Magnum, PI and MacGyver absolutely! Mac was so…smart and adventuresome. Know-how, I’m gonna have to start looking for that quality more intently.

  • funnygirl

    LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this post. Grew up watching Little House myself and never remembered how hot PA was until reading your post. Now I want to go watch some reruns myself.


  • Perpetually tanned skin + him not being afraid to sop up dinner gravy with a biscuit + welling up every 3.4 seconds = childhood crush. Almonzo had nothing on Pa.

  • you know what? I think I totally have to agree…Pa was pretty much the perfect man..sigh :)

  • Being a take charge woman these days is so hard sometimes. There are moments when I think the prarie days, with a devoted and well-tanned husband, are just what I need. Then I think about the night trips to the outhouse, the weekly baths, and killing my own chickens….and I think again.

  • You Go Girl! I’ll add “daddy” (say it w/ southern accent) –John Walton (John Boy’s dad). Not as much for his looks, but his husbanding and fathering. But I had my ‘real’ thang for Captain Kirk.

    (and I used to dream about Alan Alda….no accounting for weirdness there)

  • Me

    All through college I’d wake up early enough to watch back to back episodes of Little House… I don’t remember ever falling in love with Pa… oh but give me Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables!

  • Hahaha! My sister and I talked about this just the other day. But my brother jumped in to recall to our minds that Pa got man boobs in the last few seasons. That effectively ended our conversation.

  • I used to watch Magnum PI with mom. She loved Tom, I loved his job.

    X-Cop PI

  • Kat

    You’ve seen this Pa-riffic bit o’ art, no?

  • I agree 100% with you about Pa…and also about John Walton. Another aspect of what made them so attractive is that they loved their strong women–Carolyn Ingalls and Livvy Walton were just as tough as their husbands.

  • Abby

    I fell in love with the Pa that I read about in the books, but Micheal Landon has always kinda struck me as a child molester. To each his own…

  • PA

    Pa doesn’t use condoms – so you must be willing to bareback.

  • heather- er … um … pa wasn’t real, but a character who was bigger than life. in real life, there just us regular guys who are stuggling through life the same as you :-) -gregg

  • Don’t be stealing my man, or I’ll have to challenge you to a horse race around town against Nellie Olson.

  • Pa is also very passionate when he is angry.

  • Liz

    I gotta be honest. I always grabbed the remote whenever Little House would come on. But after reading your description of Pa, I might just have to give it another gander. He sounds like the man of my dreams.

  • I agree he was kind of hot. Though can remember having a crush on David Hasslehoff when he was on Night Rider. Oh Yeah

  • lawyerchik1

    You should have seen him as Little Joe on “Bonanza” – double “rarr!!” :)

  • Mmmmm. I love a good manly man. Makes the metrosexuals look so…over.

  • loretta

    the ultimate tv male in my mind is Duncan MacLeod on Highlander. Now that’s one incredibly sexy man. those eyes.. that smile…. damn..

  • smokeyJoe

    much hotter as little joe. nice horse, too.

  • SassyBritches

    I watched an episode not too long ago and was seeing the very things you just mentioned about Pa. I think I have Pa issues too. But I’m thankful I didn’t see him in this light when I was a little whipper snapper, would’ve ruined the innocence of the show.

    As a side note, a friend here at work calls me Laura, as in Half Pint, and I call her Ma. Now I wonder where my Pa is…