I know; I promised this week would be the antidote to last week's post, in which I would show you how to write a really good query letter to an agent. And I still will post on that, even after Josh's rebuttal last Tuesday (which made very good points), but not until next week. If you were waiting with baited breath for that one... it's possible you need to reprioritize.
Instead, I felt the need to vent a little on the "holiday" of Father's Day, which if you're keeping score at home, was yesterday.
Today, Father, is Father's Day
It's not much we know;
it is just our way of show-ing you
we think you're a regular guy.
You say that it was nice of us to bother
but it really was a pleasure to fuss.
For according to our mother,
you're our father.
And that's good enough for us.
--Burt Kalmar and Harry Ruby, "Father's Day"
Just a few short weeks ago, Americans (and for all I know, people everywhere else) celebrated Mother's Day, a holiday designed by florists and greeting card companies to exalt the concept of motherhood and move some inventory.
I have nothing against Mother's Day, nor mothers in general. I think they should in fact be exalted and recognized for the impossible job they do raising children every single day. And that is exactly what happens on Mother's Day. You can see it in the respectful, reverent advertising that goes on for weeks before the Day itself:
Mothers are, then, then, to be honored and celebrated on their day. Bravo (brava, actually). A nice idea. I always felt bad before the holiday at school for the kids who didn't have mothers while the rest of us worked on a card that (supposedly) looked like a flower, but okay.
Good for you, moms. More power to you, and thanks for all you did and do.
So imagine my delight when this lovely specimen arrived in the mail days before fathers were to be equally well feted:
Father, Groucho Marx once said, is the town schlemeil. (That's something of a buffoon, Gentiles.) And while I could easily dispense with the once-a-year Hallmark fest because I have two children who show they love and respect me all the time, it's the presentation that rankles a bit.
Yes, that's right. All Dad wants is bacon in bed, a remote control, and a nap. Or a sleeping bag he can wear. (?)
The image of fatherhood has taken a pretty harsh beating since he Knew Best in the 1950s. Of course the antiquated idea of a man's home being "his castle," (which one assumes means he should have a crocodile-infested moat around it and parapets from which to pour boiling oil on rampaging Visigoths) has been swept away, and that's good. The family unit gets stronger when everyone has a voice.
But what's happened in addition to that is that fathers have become comic figures, and not heroic ones. (I subscribe to the theory of Heroic Comedy, and this ain't it.) They are figures of ridicule, cliches, easy and fair targets. Make fun of mothers and you're a beast. Turn Dad into a grotesque figure who just wants to sit on the couch and drink beer, and you're the showrunner of a sitcom, making millions in Hollywood.
So Father's Day? Eh. We didn't do much. Errands, mostly, some for my mom, some for my spouse, one for my daughter, recently back from wandering Europe following her graduation before starting work in August. The baseball game wasn't worth watching. The only gift given was to my wife, whose birthday was a few days ago (we waited until the whole family was on the same continent). It required some assembly. Guess who did that.
And when you think about it, that's how fathers should spend Father's Day--reiterating the idea that we are essential, useful, and worthy of respect and love.
Maybe it isn't such a bad gig after all, huh?