Thursday, October 27, 2011

#56: Carving Jack-O-Lanterns

Halloween is upon us. A time where kids get free candy, adults get drunk for really no good reason, and women around the world can dress like total floozies and not be judged. In short, Halloween is a magical time. Everyone has a role. The kids are mapping out the best houses to get king-sized candy bars and avoid the toothbrush house. The moms are safeguarding the variety pack of “fun size” candies (Sidenote: just because it is smaller does not make it more fun). But Dads have one of the most important roles of Halloween: carving the Jack-O-Lanterns (JoL).

It all begins with the trip to the pumpkin patch. Dad normally drags the kids to the open field to pick the best pumpkin. Normally this would fall under the boring category, but the fall season is a special time. The kids find the pumpkins and Dad inspects…always. It cannot be too big or too small. It cannot have dents or have a flat side. A pumpkin must pass the high standards of Dad in order to be worthy of JoL distinction.

Once the pumpkin has been chosen, it is off to the operating room aka the kitchen to morph the gourd into Jack. Dad lays down the newspaper to protect everything from the carnage and digs a knife into the top of the pumpkin. He scoops out all the goopy mess while the kids try not to gag from the smell. Dad it’s soooooo gross! Dad has the kids pick out all the seeds so they can roast and eat them, one of the few “meals” he can actually cook outside of Massive Sunday Breakfasts. Some Dads are artists and can make a very realistic JoL, but most just defer to the standard triangle eyes and the mouth with a tooth or two. Carving three holes is difficult enough, Dad just wants to get these babies on the porch as soon as possible.

Once they are complete, the JoLs get placed in proper order and their soul is created: the lighting of the candle. Dad will stand back and marvel at his craftsmanship thinking he is the best artist since Leonardo DaVinci, but really he just can cut a few holes into a vegetable without stabbing himself. Dad celebrates the completion of the task by sneaking a few Reeses Peanut Butter Cups from the candy bowl and finding his hiding spot to soak down those damn middle school pranksters with the garden hose. No eggs or toilet paper will hit Dad’s house. Not under his watch.

Friday, October 21, 2011

#55 Power Tools

The sink is going haywire (it’s like one of those spraying fire hydrants!), the floor is creaking, and the garage door needs to be fixed. While mom sifts through the yellow pages for a plumber and repairman, Dad burrows down under the house for his toolbox and power tools set. “HERE ARE MY BABIES!” Dad exclaims with jubilation as he blows off the dust that has settled upon them. The tool set was a Christmas gift from Santa to Dad. Mom wishes Santa didn’t get it for him

For about a week straight, Dad was using those tools for everything and anything. “Need a birdhouse built?” Dad it’s the middle of winter, birds have migrated south. “Want me to fix your showerhead?” My shower works just fine…and always has. "Need anything sawed?" I don't even know how to answer that. “Want me to open that soda can for you?” Please Dad…put down the hammer.

Power tools define a Dad because it adds status. Not only are they part of his barbarian and masculine heritage and genes, but Dads are the only people that can pull off tool belts as fashion statements. Ace Hardware might as well be called Dads R Us. The best part about the power tools though is that Dad has a plethora of them, and has no idea how to use them. Have you ever seen Dad doing something other than sanding the wood? Dad’s on another beer break… Whether Dad is really attempting to “fix up the house” or he’s just looking for a reason to get out of running errands with mom, power tools serve meaning in Dad’s lives. As much as Dad doesn't know about his tools, we appreciate his effort when it is needed. Now go hand him that allen wrench while he’s assembling your IKEA desk.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

#54: Scotch

The Gods have finally answered. After years of waiting, praying, hoping, and a lot of shots in your dorm room without the RA finding out, you are finally 21! No more sneaking around and hiding your booze stash or sweating it out in line for a bar with your fake ID because you can legally drink. As it is a cause for celebration, dinner with the parents is in order. The waiter turns to you asking for your drink choice and a whole new world of options has opened up. You sift through your mind and order a Miller Lite. That was a mistake… Dad laughs out loud and tells the waiter that he is going to teach his son how to enjoy a real drink. Dad then orders you the manliest and therefore most Dad beverage: SCOTCH.

Your feeble college liver is not ready for such an intense taste because it has only been tested with cheap beer and Skol Vodka. The two fingers of scotch in front of you are as intimidating as Jean Claude Van Damme in Bloodsport, and the kick after each sip is just as bad as JCVD’s foot going through your head. It tastes like pure wood; it burns going down and makes you sweat. It is a real drink, for real men. Dads are such men.

Dads like to unwind after a tough day at work or an afternoon of puttering around the house by relaxing in his easy chair or on the patio overlooking his domain (the lawn) and enjoying that simple and yet so complex drink that is scotch. It comes in many bottles from many different distillers and even though the names are all in English, you cannot pronounce any of the names correctly. Damn Scottish accents. Every Dad has their favorite scotch. And it does not stop at a certain company. A real Dad will order his scotch down to the specific age and even batch type. That is a man who knows his drinks.

Some Dads get theirs on the rocks, some with a splash of water. But the Daddest of Dads orders his scotch neat, nothin in the glass but that caramel ooze of goodness. Even though you can barely put it to your lips without gagging, Dad sips on it like it was water. He will usually exclaim something like, “It puts hair on your chest!” But it won’t put it on your balding head Dad. During the holidays or a football game, “It is the best thing to warm you up on a cold day!” We don’t know about that, but it sure burns enough in the throat to make you feel like you are on fire.

So go on, keep drinking your light beer and cheap vodka. Enjoy your newfound freedom of drinking in pubs and bars legally. But as you age, you will seek more intense liquors to tantalize your worn out taste buds. Scotch has been here for hundreds of years, it will be there for you in your future Dad career.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

#53: Yellow Wrapped Candy

“RED!” You scream while your sibling screams back “PINK!” You are both arguing over which the better flavor is. The Starburst debate never ends. The bright side is that since you like the different flavors, you each get your favorite. You split the oranges but then what to do with the leftover yellows? Why do they even make this flavor? And that is when Dad swoops in, much like a hawk, and steals all the yellows in one swift motion “Thank yaaaa…”

Dads indulge their sweet tooth every now and then. Mom does it by buying ice cream claiming its for you, or hides chocolate boxes in her closet that you find while you’re searching for Christmas gifts. Dad, on the other hand, is up front about his affection for sugar. He controls it precisely by stuffing himself with meat and potatoes so as to let mom enjoy the devil dark chocolate cake for dessert. But if that candy comes in a nice yellow wrapper, Dad might as well be hit with Kryptonite.

Mr. Goodbar, Milk Duds, Charleston Chew, Lemonheads, Banana Runts, Popcorn/Banana jellybeans, Peanut M&M’s (well those are just loved by all but they are a Dad favorite), if it has yellow on it, Dad will want it. These candies probably never existed to you until you saw Dad reach for one out of your trick or treating bag. The bright yellow packaging catches Dad's eye from 3 aisles over at the grocery store. I mean, even SugarDaddy candy and Dad’s Root Beer knew it had to have yellow on their packaging to attract Dad. So while you enjoy your Snickers and Rolos, Dad will stick to his Juicyfruit gum and hard candy that for some reason is always wrapped in yellow packaging.