But there was nothing. No eggs Bennie. No track bike. Nada
. Pam stretched, yawned, donned a thick terrycloth
bathrobe and started talking to me like it was a regular Sunday.
In fact, I think she was hoping I'd make her some coffee and
bring it up to the bedroom, a frequent Sunday routine.
"Hey, wait a second," I said.
"What about Father's Day?"
"Oh, come on, Dave, Father's Day is such a Hallmark holiday."
I drew my breath in sharply. Her words were like a knife
through my heart.
"I mean, we never used to celebrate it for my Dad."
Well, gentlemen, I confess I went a little postal at this
point. A little hissy-fit-o-licious. A little poopy pants.
(Okay, a lot poopy pants.) When outraged, I can be very eloquent
and, upon this occasion, I delivered a lengthy, emotional
oratory on what being a father meant to me, my poignant emotions
on my first Father's Day ever and so on - a speech so moving I
may have teared up at a couple of points. That had her
scampering for the door, hitting the streets, and she didn't
come back until she had a full martini set.
Which mollified me. I mean, it's not the same to get a
present after throwing a tantrum and making an ass out of
yourself. But it's still pretty good. I relaxed, and everything
went smoothly after that.
Now, you may be thinking: What a diva! What a girly man. And
perhaps I am. I know men are meant to be stoic about everything
and not mind about Father's Day, birthdays and all the rest of
My father was like that. He never seemed to care about his
birthday, even, let alone Father's Day. Ten years ago, when he
got prostate cancer, he shrugged and got an operation. "I caught
it early. It'll be fine." When fluid was found on his lungs last
year (a possible sign of lung cancer that turned out to be of
mysterious origin, but definitely not the big C), he kept his
cool. Once again he shrugged and went in for his tests.
I'm not like that. If a doctor even whispers the c-word
around me, there's going to be a Dave-Eddie-shaped hole in the
wall of his office, and they'll find me in the park, pounding
the earth, dirt-streaked tear tracks running down my cheeks,
muttering "Why? Why?!?"
Times have changed. These days, fathers are very different
from our dads. Women are always talking about the changes
they've undergone in the past 40 years, but in a way I'd say men
have undergone an even bigger sea change. I mean, think about
it: Our fathers used to come home, sit in an easy chair, read
the paper and wait for a beer and their dinner to be served to
I think we can all agree that those days are long gone. As
one friend of mine puts it: "If I came home, sat in front of the
TV and waited for someone to serve me a beer, it'd be because I
wandered into the Legion Hall by mistake, where I would soon
find myself living full-time."
I like to cuddle. I like to be involved with the kids. I like
to talk to my wife. At night, I express my emotions about all
the lousy rat bastards I crossed swords with all day long, how
they tried to screw me over, how I'm going to exact revenge if
it's the last thing I do. Pam listens, then tells me about her
day. Then I cook dinner. Our generation is more expressive than
previous generations. My mother's father never told her he loved
her - not once in her whole life. They lived on a farm, and like
many salt-of-the-earth men of his time, he was too stoic and
reserved for displays of affection.
But these days - in part encouraged by women, may I point out
- none of the dads I know are like that. They juggle (just as
much as women, though they don't get credit for it) the demands
of work and home. They're more committed, communicative,
involved, helpful and aware of child issues than their fathers,
or their fathers' fathers, would ever have dreamed.
(I think of the 16th-century French essayist Michel de
Montaigne's comment that he has "lost two or three children in
childbirth, not without regret, but without any great sorrow."
The crazy thing about that being: He wasn't sure how many. That
is how men used to be.)
True, there's probably still quite a ways to go. On the
housework front, say. We may be dragging our heels just a hair
in this area. We still do that thing where we step over stuff on
the staircase. We know it's annoying. We forget to offer you
drinks when we pour one for ourselves. We know. We're trying to
change, we're trying to improve.
All we need, ladies, to make that final leap, to become the
Perfect Man, is a little encouragement. And Father's Day is your
chance! It's your chance to show the man in your life you've
taken notice that he's trying to be a good man, a better man,
he's trying to help, bring home some of the bacon and still be
useful around the house. Show him you see these things, you have
taken note of them and you appreciate them.
Otherwise, he might just burst into tears.
David Eddie is an author and screenwriter. He has
published two books, Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions
of a Stay-at-Home Dad.