Monday, June 21, 2004

It's been so many days since I've blogged, that I am almost shy to finally write a few words. Also, I had quite a lot to blog about, but now that I finally start blogging, it is on a momentously uneventful day. It has been one of those dear, hazy, quiet summer Mondays. That almost look like Sundays. The only difference is that I am not the only one doing some work today.

Father's day was an interesting day for me. Obviously my first. I still don't think I know what it is about, being new on the job and all that. The point is obviously to huckster a few extra trinkets to unsuspecting wives and offspring, for them to give to their gadget-laden dads/husbands. But I had all sorts of unusual events happen to me on this day, all strangely related to fatherhood.

It began with my sister calling just as father's day had started. Well, it was after midnight where she was, anyway. We talked for more than an hour. And we almost never just 'talk'. First, we talked a lot about our mother. But then the discussion turned to our father. And we actually talked about him. Which I can't remember us doing before. I don't think we are an especially dysfunctional family. It's just that she is almost a decade older than me, and by the time she was ready to start accepting me as an adult – ready to start answering my probably incessant questions and actually talking to me – I had kind of moved on to other people, perhaps some sorts of 'sibling substitutes'. So although we get along very well, and are actually quite alike in many respects, we rarely just 'talk'. Turns out we have a similar take on our father. Go figure.

Then, when I woke up yesterday morning, and took my daughter for a drive to the hardware store, I heard the most sad, depressing and miserable, yet endearing in a strange way, story on NPR about fatherhood. It was a radio interview with an older gentleman, who talked about his terse relationship with his father, the father's teenage escape from his abusive and violent father, and then the original gentleman's years with his son, until the son, his only son by the way, drowned at the age of fifteen. By the time I got to the hardware store, I was a red-eyed, bawling mess. You can just imagine the puzzled stares I got from the other males as I walked in like that, with my baby daughter on my arm.

In the afternoon, we went to one of the region's lakes. My girls dipped their feet in the cold water, giggling, while I lay beached on the shore. I think I am finally getting the point about taking your kids to the park, the beach, etc. It is a contiguous space of sand, grass or other innocuous surroundings, where the rugrats can roam around with lowered supervision. There are no power outlets or scissors at the beach. So you can relax for a bit.

Throughout the day, all sorts of little, non-commercial 'dad' stuff popped up. I would look other dads in the eye and actually imagine I understood some of it. Or maybe I was just especially susceptible. Excited over becoming a member of this strange club of men.

Finally, my wife sent me to the video store last night. 'A comedy' was her only condition. On a whim, I picked up 50 First Dates. Actually, if you haven't seen the trailer, don't watch it. Just see the movie. It is so much better not to know. Suffice to say, if you are expecting a classic Sandler/Barrymore slapstick, you might be pleasantly surprised. For me, it was a film about fathers. And for the second time in one day, I cried.

Makes you wonder if Mother's day wouldn't be a more appropriate day for me.