Jun 11, 2010

Fathers' Day Cheat Sheet

[As seen in this month's Chill magazine. Available wherever you buy fine stout.]

You may not like him—or even know him—but if your name isn't Anakin, you have a father out there. He's not necessarily wise, and he can't play God of War for beans, but if you tolerate the way he nods off at Thanksgiving and blames his farts on the cat, it's time to throw the man some respect. June 20th happens to be a great day of the year to reconcile male bonding with family duty.

Now, there are those of us who are fathers, and those who will be fathers. There's also a group I refer to as 'The Others'. The Others are a tribe of men who play Texas Hold 'em until three on a weeknight; sleep in late; and think Yo Gabba Gabba is a Chinese cellist who covers Ramones tunes. I'm not talking to you guys. Go buy an iPad app.

There are also those out there who are fathers but—spoiler alert—just don't know it yet. Men in this category should consider Fathers' Day a time to give their collective heads a shake. Because, if you're in any danger of unwittingly siring an offspring, consider the following a Public Service Announcement:

Dude, since you've obviously harnessed the Axe-effect, might I suggest swinging by the latex aisle the next time you visit Shoppers. The women of Canada—and all taxpayers—thank you in advance.

Now, when you think about it, it should really be called Dad's Day. I mean, any turkey-baster with motile sperm can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a Dad. 'Father' is so clinical and Victorian. A 'father' is a man who brings home coal and asks you to fetch a switch when you don't wipe you nose properly. Surely, no kid has ever said, "Thanks for the Xbox, father."

But to be called 'Dad'... that's totally different. It means you are genuinely sought after, and likely free of scandal. Maury Povich never pauses dramatically, and says, "You are the Dad." Dad's know what they are, and work hard at it. Which poses the question: how did we end up with a crappy expression like 'Deadbeat Dad'? This is an oxymoron on par with 'friendly fire' and 'stationary orbit'. I've got a news flash for you, Daddy No-bucks: If you've ever blown your kid's sneaker budget chasing an inside straight, you have as much claim to the title 'Dad' as I do to 'Rwanda's toughest vegan'.

So, assuming you are the man of honour, here is one hard truth to consider... the only people who get excited about Fathers' Day are... kids. Think about it. Your wife hasn't forgiven you for that 'Wii Fit Oprah-ciser' you got her for Mothers' Day, so she's not going to be your wingman on the sleep-in thing. Your parents only call when they need to know how to 'unfriend' someone on Facebook. And even Robin Williams on Prozac would rather hit the links than celebrate the day he got one through the posts. So buck up and consult the following when you're stumped...

Priority #1:
Keep the kids from crying...

  • If you smell burnt toast, you're not having a stroke. That will come later.
  • Depending on the age of your kids, you have macaroni-art heading your way. Just smile, and try not to inhale too much glitter.
  • If they give you a tie, put it on right away so they have one clear memory of you wearing it.
  • If they give you cologne, they're just following the playbook. (If they give you Listerine and 1000 yards of mint floss, there may actually be a hint in there.)
  • Kids eventually realize that sleeping-in is the best gift of all. This occurs near their 30th birthday.
Priority #2:
Take care of your own Dad...

  • Call him after 11. That's all he wants. And try as they might, there is still no such thing as a masculine Hallmark card.
  • Bonus Points: If your name's Patrick, tell him you took out life insurance. Good for you, son!
  • Want to get creative? Turn a cliché on its head by giving Thai, rather than a tie. (My advice? Food, not massage.)
Priority #3:
If you're a wife...
  • You know how you like a box that says DeBeer's? We like a box that says DeWalt.
  • If you promise to not bug us for 24 hours, we promise never to say, "Who's yer daddy"
And to The Others, I say, enjoy your rest. I hope life in the fast-food lane is every bit as enjoyable as I remember it to be. Do at least two of the following for the Gipper, will ya?

  • Set your alarm for 2 in the afternoon... just to see if you can make it.
  • Walk into a Walmart... then leave immediately. Savour this memory.
  • Go to a theatre and pick a movie on the spot. Too early? Grab a beer and read the paper.
  • If you're feeling especially cruel, drop by a pet store and loudly talk about the six puppies you want to buy for your daughter, "just because she's worth it".
And, finally, let's not forget those fathers who aren't with us any more. If you can spare a thought, why not offer thanks to those deserving dads who went to that great workshop in the sky (especially since you're guaranteed to get the last word for once). Just don't get carried away when giving props to your main homie. Unless Dad had the word "Ice" or "MC" in his name, there's no need to pour a malt liquor down the sewer. 

Come to think of it, that's pretty much the only place it deserves to go. I stand corrected.