Thursday, June 30, 2011

#39 The Wallet

**The subject of this post was submitted by one of our readers, much like yourself. Please comment on the posts or contact one of the contributors with your ideas. We may use it in a future post!**

Dads have to carry a lot of important things with them at all times. Whenever someone needs to open a can of whatever, Dad will pull out his Swiss Army Knife with 30 attachments to get the job done. “I always carry around my Swiss Army Knife because you never know when something needs to be fixed” is what he will say but you know he only uses it for the toothpick after he polishes off a rack of ribs and the occasional odd job. Dad is not MacGyver no matter how badly he wants to be. However, there is one essential tool in every Dad’s arsenal that is necessary for Dad’s functioning…the wallet.

Dad has to store a lot of things on the go and he never knows when he will need to use them. Parking valet tickets, receipts from Starbucks, the New Balance hotline for his newly purchased white tennis shoes…everything needs to be on hand because a Dad needs to be prepared for anything. Dad’s wallet is the archives, the file system which keeps everything in place until called upon. Have you ever seen Dad look through his wallet? It is a deep cavern of paper that looks like a mess to the untrained eye, but Dad will always find what he needs. How did Dad find that receipt? There were 30 that look just like it in his wallet! Dad knows where everything is in his wallet. It is a very sophisticated system.

Dad’s wallet is not for the weak. It is NOT a money clip. It is a leather bound device that is often thicker than a deck of cards. Due to this staggering dimension, Dad must always remove his wallet from his back pocket whenever he sits down for more than five minutes. He will always come up with an excuse like, “It just hurts my back too darn much to sit on this thing!” The ultimate Dad will actually require medical intervention when a Doctor says that it is unhealthy to have a four inch height difference between back pockets because Dad is carrying an encyclopedia in his wallet. When you sit down for dinner the wallet is out. When the family gets into the car, the wallet is placed in a cup holder. It is a gift and a curse to have such an amazing depository of information within an arm’s reach.

Dad also uses his wallet for business contacts. Sometimes a light bulb will appear above his head and he will shuffle through the bowels of his wallet and out will come a single business card. Before you know it Dad is on his blackberry (Dad doesn’t need one of those newfangled icalls or whatever it is) calling a business customer for a new order. Dad is always on patrol with his trusty wallet. He even keeps at least 10 business cards of his own in the wallet for distribution because he would rather give someone his card than awkwardly spell out his email address.

Wallets can be used in many ways. They can be used as decoration, just to hold cash, or for keeping credit cards in their place. Dad’s wallets, however, are a sacred realm; a place where an infinite amount of paper can be stored. Much like Hermione’s handbag in the Harry Potter books, Dad’s wallet can store just about everything and Dad can find exactly what he needs almost immediately. It truly is a special tool for any Dad.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

#38 Dragging Kids to Things That Are “Good” For Them

The dreaded day has approached. You get home from school and have to do your homework right away. It is only a long division worksheet but you question when you will ever have to know how to do long division (Answer: you won’t). Dad tells you to clean up and put on your suit. The suit is hot and itchy and the tie feels like it is strangling you. This night cannot end soon enough. Dad and mom are taking you to the most boring of places. The Opera.

It is Dad’s responsibility to provide their kids with a wide range of experiences and cultural events so that the children can be exposed to things outside of their normal life. Normally it is things like mini-golf or a baseball game, you know…fun stuff. But sometimes it is something boring and requires you dressing up like you’re going to work with Dad. The opera, the orchestra, a fancy restaurant that does not serve hot dogs or pizza, or the worst of them all: an art museum. Dad always says, “C’mon son, this isn’t so bad. Stop pouting and enjoy it. I wish my Dad took me to see Phantom of the Opera when I was your age.” These are little white lies Dads tell their kids because Dad usually also has to be dragged to such events by mom and he is trying to make everyone a little happier.

Sssshhhhhh, the Opera is starting. You have to keep still and be quiet so mom and Dad can listen to the Opera, which is in Italian. It does not matter that neither of them know a word of Italian. It also does not matter because Dad will be falling asleep by the beginning of the second act as mom stares him down when his snoring annoys everyone in a 25 foot radius.

Dad will also drag the family to things that are good for them when the family is in a different city on vacation. He wants to go see some famous park or a museum on accounting while everyone groans. “It’s not that bad, it’s going to be great! This museum has the largest collection of impressionist art in the state (Oh my God, sooooo boring)! I wish I could have done this when I was your age.” As you shuffle off in tow all you think about is playing marco polo in the hotel pool.

When the suffering is over and you are driving home from the museum/play/opera, Dad will always say the family should do this more often. You pray to God that that does not happen. You may think Dad is steering you wrong, but he knows what is good for you.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

#37 Liking Father's Day Gifts

*First of all, Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Without you, these characteristics wouldn't be associated with all the glory that comes with fatherhood*

"Happy Father's Day Dad!" You exclaim excitedly this morning as Dad is mumbling himself awake. Every other morning, Dad is up and chipper before you, but somehow each Father's Day, you are wide awake before him as Dad attempts to sleep in as this is his day. "Open your gifts!"

Dad opens the cards and reads each word carefully as you sit in your pjs anxiously waiting for the gifts to be unwrapped. You spent hours trying to find the perfect gift but nothing made sense for you to get Dad, so you ended up with a prank t-shirt/mug/tie/apron. Dad has to pretend to like my gift, so let's see him fake this one. Dad opens the funny tshirt stating "#1 Dad 2011" or "World's Greatest Dad" with an arrow pointing straight up at him. It's a cheesey gift that is appropriate for Father's Day and never again. So job well done...

Except...DAD LOVES IT! The classic Dad move in this scenario is he immediately puts the shirt/tie/button on and refuses to take it off. For the formal dinner tonight to celebrate, will Dad be wearing a suit? Nope, he'll be wearing his new favorite tshirt in order to show the world his rank of Dads on this day. And it just so happens that your crush will be at this dinner and Dad is waitingly ready to embarrass you by declaring his love for the gift you got him. Don't try to tell Dad to quiet down, because that just makes things worse as he is entitled to do and say anything today because it is his day. Even on Father's Day, Dad doesn't hesitate to embarrass you, but only this time you brought it upon yourself trying to outsmart Dad with a witty gift. Maybe next year you'll just get him the latest bottle opener from Sharper Image.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

#36 Reading the Sunday Paper

**Editor’s Note: We are making up with the extended break between posts by doing an extra post or two this week. Thank you to all three of our loyal readers.**

It’s Sunday. As you roll out of bed at 11 in the morning, you do not hear the distinctive sizzle of Dad frying six pounds of bacon for his massive Sunday breakfast. You do not hear Dad puttering around in the backyard spreading mulch. In fact, you do not hear a thing as you walk down to the kitchen. “Good Morning Sleepyhead” says a disembodied voice from the breakfast nook. You turn around to see Dad, in his bathrobe he won’t take off all day, calmly reading the six inch thick stack of paper known as the Sunday newspaper.

Dads are very busy people. Of course they have work all day and then when they get home they are usually too tired to read the newspaper since they have been reading income statements or some other boring work related thing all day. But Sunday is a special day. Dad gets to sit at his table of choice, put on a pot of coffee, and delve into the 300 plus page Sunday paper. He will read everything: front page, sports, travel, home and garden (Oooo Honey! They have a sale on power washers at Sears!). Dad will also go through the classifieds and tell you about job postings for a kid your age, a calm reminder that he wants to get you off the payroll ASAP.

The Sunday paper reading can go on for hours, especially if it is a rainy Sunday and Dad’s favorite football team to yell at is not playing on TV. Dad will stoically read the paper and periodically say stuff like: Ugh, the market is tanking! or That is a heck of a deal on razors. These statements are addressed to no one in particular as he is just trying to maintain contact with the non-newspaper world. So be a good son and just mumble something back; he isn’t really listening to you anyways because he just moved onto the comics.

The most time consuming part of the Sunday newspaper ritual is the Sunday crossword. That labyrinth of puzzle is Dad’s kryptonite. He will spend hours on it but will barely get half of the clues because on Sunday all the clues deal with 1700s Prussian literature or something else Dad has no idea about. WHAT IS A FOUR LETTER WORD FOR MP3 PLAYER?? WHAT THE HECK IS AN MP3?? As you calmly answer with “ipod” Dad grumbles because he has an uphill battle to fight. It is all in a day’s work for Dad so just let him be. Maybe next week he will actually put a dent in the crossword…probably not.

The Sunday ritual is important for everyone. Your ritual might be to watch TV and put off your math homework until as late as possible, your mom’s may be to work out in the garden. But the Dad ritual is of the utmost importance and should not be disturbed. It is what gets him through the week. So sit back and enjoy Dad not telling you to mow the lawn or wash the windows because he is too occupied with the ultimate archive of information, the Sunday newspaper.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

#35: Guesstimated Time of Arrivals

“WE’VE BEEN TRAVELING FOREVER.” You stammer while pouting, rolling your eyes and shaking all limbs while holding in your bladder. “CMON DAD! I’VE HAD TO PEE FOR AT LEAST AN HOUR! ARE WE THERE YET?” As soon as you say it, you know the answer: “We’re almost there” Dad instinctively quips back.

This is Dad’s go to answer when it comes to time measurement. Dad may not ask for directions or read maps, but trust him, you are almost there. No matter what, the destination is “just around the corner” or “only a block away.” Dad knows this answer holds you over for at least another 15 minutes. And by the next time you ask, Dad gives the same response. Okay…maybe it actually is a block away now.

Dad does these quick and short term answers not only to ease your urgent bladder needs or impatient self, I can only play squishsquashapplesauce in the backseat for so long. But Dad also gives these answers to ease his mind because if you’re always almost there, you can’t be lost.

Whether on foot or in the car on the family roadtrip, Dad can guesstimate how much longer until the next bathroom break, rest area, or final destination by analyzing the horizon. And don’t worry, you’ll be able to stop playing the license plate game soon because you’ll be there shortly.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

#34 Always Having Exact Change

Oh my God, Dad is taking me to McDonalds!! When you were a kid, there was nothing sweeter than Dad taking you to McDonalds for lunch. You stand in line with Dad, excitement building for the cool toy that will come in your Four Piece Chicken McNugget Happy Meal (did anyone ever NOT order the McNugget Happy Meal?). Getting to the register, Dad orders your Happy Meal and a Big Mac for himself. How can Dad eat all that? The cashier says, “That will be $6.43.” Dad delves into his wallet and pulls out EXACTLY $6.43. Dad has done it again. He always has exact change for everything.

It is almost like Dad is his own bank, he always has the right amount of cash for the job. Whether Dad is buying a cup of “joe” or his newest braided leather belt, he always has exact change so that he does not have to waste time waiting for the cashier to give him back 18 cents. Dad uses the saved time for more important endeavors such as spreading mulch in the back yard. Dad never points out the exact change phenomenon because he knows that Dads around the world are prepared for every possible combination of change. You always wonder, How does he do it? It is in their DNA. It is their instinct. It is in all male’s DNA, but it does not get triggered until one has a child, much like the desire to rake the leaves or to eat plain Cheerios for breakfast.

Like many of the “Dad”ttributes the people here at TSD write about, this will happen to you when you become a Dad. Do not be afraid, be proud. Every Dad’s wallet is a sacred place. One day you too will have a wallet filled with credit cards, parking lot passes, old shopping lists, work receipts, and that Starbucks gift card your son gave you three years ago. But within that wallet is the most magical thing of all: the little zippered change pocket that will always have the exact change for the job. Always.