Because I wrote a book about fatherhood and because I used to blog regularly on the topic, my email address has found its way onto many PR lists. This allows me to unwittingly and constantly gaze into the rotting, stinking, desperate hull of American parent-industry marketing. Do you really think I care that your E-list celebrity mom was spotted with a stylish diaper bag? Do I look like the kind of guy who writes about fishing poles? Or what a cornpone psychiatrist with bad hair thinks about schoolyard bullying? Please leave me alone!
It gets really bad around Father’s Day. For the last month, I’ve been barraged with constant “Great Gift Ideas For Dad” emails, some of which have actually caused me to scream at my laptop. In the last three days, I’ve learned about Father’s Day promotions for: a “ Share a Frosty With Dad” charity at Wendy’s, a photo-sharing application that encourages me to “take a snapshot with dad,” a weather-sensing sprinkler system that will “give your dad the gift of water savings,” a liquid that will “help dad remove that stain from his favorite armchair,” and an iPad cookbook app that includes a recipe for the horrible-sounding “Chipotle Spice Rubbed Beer Can Chicken.”
I’d like to call for a definition of fatherhood that doesn’t include shitty gadgets or corny grillmaster accoutrements. But what’s the point? That’s clearly the role in which I’ve been cast. Given an impossible-to-cast-off set of clichés, I’d at least like people to stop trying to sell me that conception, or any conception, of fatherhood, along with their how-to guide for Pulled Pork Quesadillas. Actually, those sound pretty good.
For my present, I bought myself a ticket to a play for an evening several weeks before Father’s Day. There was no other way to justify the expense, and no other present that I really wanted. No one tried to sell me anything, other than the ticket itself, which made me happy. I went to the play, enjoyed it, and didn’t have to think about being a dad for a second.
On Sunday, maybe my wife will make homemade biscuits and my son will take a few hours off from telling me that he hates me because I won’t buy him another pack of Pokemon cards. That’s all I ask. And to any PR people who might be reading this, please give me a few days off before trying to sell me stuff for the 4th of July.
To hear things from a different dad’s point of view, read the chronicles of a gay Jewish dad in birthing class. And if you’re looking for a Father’s Day gift that isn’t a grilling gadget, try one of these books all about fatherhood.