Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Day for Dragon Slayers

Small boy's definition of Father's Day: “It's just like Mother's Day
only you don't spend so much." (Author unknown).

Another father’s day is coming. I greet it with mixed feelings.

I’ve kept a great many of the cards I received from my daughters on
Father’s Day over the years. Most of them poke gentle humor at me for
my fix-it skills, TV viewing habits or availability for light

Fair enough. I’m not exactly a hearts-and-flowers guy.

Besides, some of the sentiments are based in fact. I once severed the water line
running from the street to the house while attempting to fix a
sprinkler, flooding the entire yard. The neighbors still yell “surf’s
up” when they see me coming.

The guys at the hardware store know me on a first-name basis. I’m
Bob, the guy who needs a combination internal pipe wrench and wiz
snips with a left handed tongue and groove attachment and carbon
steel forceps so I can hang a towel rack.

I’ll watch any sports on TV, even leg wrestling from Turkestan where
the winner receives a goat.

I’m not sure of the exact location of the vacuum cleaner in our house and the controls on our new washing
machine look to me like those on a F-16 fighter/bomber.

Despite these shortcomings, once a year I’m Dear Old Dad. Over time,
I’ve gotten dozens of ties, gallons of after shave and enough soap on
a rope to scrub down the U.S.S. Missouri.

And each time, I received them with expressions of joy which, truth be told, are honestly felt.

I couldn’t help noticing, however, that on Mother’s Day, my wife
receives flowers, multiple expressions of love that make her teary
eyed all capped with an expensive champagne brunch or dinner at some
place where the menus don’t have prices.

On Father’s Day, I’m sent out to slave over a hot barbecue which, as
a matter of survival, necessitates the ingestion of cold beer.

Also fair enough. Moms deserve all the attention. They are the
nurturers, the huggers, the comforters, the ones that care and feed
for us all.

Men are the dragon slayers, the ones who defend the cave, not to
mention change the oil, move the furniture, kill the spiders and
unclog the toilet.

It’s in our biological makeup to be this way, just like we can’t help
growing beards and grilling meat.

It wasn’t long ago that we were hunter/gatherers who went out with a
spear and brought home the evening meal slung over our massive, hairy

Nothing says love like a sweaty guy with dirt under his nails.

But, heck yes, we deserve a day. In fact, it wasn’t easy getting one.

Mother’s Day in this country officially dates back to 1914. But while
it was met with enthusiasm, the suggestion of a Father's Day was
often met with laughter, according to several historical accounts.
It was the target of much satire, parody and derision, sort of like
National Accordion Month is now. Shockingly, many saw it as the first
step in filling the calendar with mindless promotions.

A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced
in Congress in 1913. But our elected officials resisted, fearing that
it would become commercialized.

Wikipedia, the sometimes reliable online encyclopedia, reports that
President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be
observed by the nation, but stopped short of issuing a national
In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing
Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers,
thus "singling out just one of our two parents. " To no avail.
In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson issued the first presidential
proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June
as Father's Day.

Finally, the day was made a permanent national holiday when that
go-to guy Richard Nixon who signed it into law in 1972.

One other historical note: More phone calls are made in the United
States during Mother's Day than during Father's Day, but the
percentage of collect calls on Father's Day is much higher.

Best definition of a Dad? “A father carries pictures where his money
used to be.”

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