Sometimes people ask me to write about fatherhood. I guess this is because they hate themselves, because every time I read about fatherhood I hate myself. Also it’s kind of pointless, because deep down every dad sincerely believes that he is already an amazing father, and if people could just see how he puts extra shredded cheese on top of the frozen pizza before baking it, because that’s how the frozen pizza guys really get you–by skimping on the cheese–then people would probably write a book on him.
But whatever, I’ll write about fatherhood.
HOW TO BE AN ELITE FATHER:
When you are watching television and a commercial for a workout DVD promises “SLEEK, SEXY ABS!” and your 6-year-old daughter asks what “sexy” means, you reply:
Sexy means when Daddy dances
…and you feel damn good about that answer.
You have a detailed zombie attack family escape plan.
Look, the undead won’t respect your platitudes about mutual submission. It needs to be you coming down the hallway to meet the zombies, not your 5’3″ wife. You are two hundred pounds of Dad Bod that has been seasoned for a decade with the painful, creeping realization that you are turning into your own father. You are a coiled spring. And this is your moment.
Even if you consider yourself a weak man or a meek man, the ability to save your family is buried within you. It is called Dad Mode. Dad Mode is a powerful gift that God gives to men to compensate for why our hair falls out and why our privates have to be on the outside.
Case in point: If I had a choice to either call my father at 2AM with an emergency or my mother at 2AM with the same emergency, I’d call my father every time, and I would guess most of you would, too. I don’t love my father more than my mother, but my father has the ability to pick up a phone at 2AM and hear
DAD THE CAR WON’T START
DAD I’M BEING CHASED BY A BEAR
DAD I CAN’T FIND ONE OF MY KIDS
…and immediately engage Dad Mode.
So when you hear the dull scraping of dead fingers trying to claw through your window screens, roll out of bed and engage your Dad Mode. It will feel like a Tonic song coursing through your veins, like probably this one
There is no time for democracy: there is only time for Dadocracy. There will be time to sort out hurt feelings when the National Guard clears your street and you emerge into the sunlight to view the mangled remains of all your neighbors who could have been saved if the father had simply engaged his Dad Mode.
(For the record, my plan involves trying to get to the garage attic access, and the fall back is making a last stand in the master bedroom. Kids and wife get locked in the master bathroom, wife chops through the ceiling with a kitchen knife (to get to the attic), I man the outer bedroom door and fight a delaying action when/if door is breached)
You save money by painting the living room yourself. And then while you’re doing all the trim work, and it’s late at night, and the kids are in bed…well, you paint a little something special right in the middle of the wall for the wife, and by “special” I mean an erotic mural dedicated to the wonder of sanctified sex. A modern-day take on Song of Solomon, if you will.
…except you don’t immediately paint over it and then it dries and even when you paint over it with a roller later you can still see the outline of the body parts, and hey that’s what they make sandpaper for, I guess.
You maintain a robust selection of profanity to direct at various inanimate objects during automobile repairs. You also develop the ability to form compound cuss words on the fly, including a 19-letter word which begins with “c” and ends with “t” which you used repeatedly, to great effect, in a 3 hour battle you had with a radiator, but what were you going to do, the mechanic would have charged you $400 to replace that.
You have the necessary self-discipline to holster all profanity when your 3-year-old decides to help you with a plumbing project.
You wisely invest $30 on a cherry tree, then $10 on fertilizer, $10 on fungicide, and then $4 on mulch, because when the financial infrastructure crashes for good, you will have a pantry full of canned cherries to barter with and survive on. And then when you grow a grand total of 3 cherries over two years you plant a second cherry tree, because technically this makes it an orchard.
You greet one of your children with some variation of
Good morning and also do you have any recollection of walking in on Mommy and me last night?
You throw crap out.
Empty toothpaste tubes. Your children’s popsicle stick-and-cotton ball crafts from church. Broken toys. The empty salsa jars that appear on top of the microwave, allocated for hazy-sounding future craft projects but destined to be put under the sink and never remembered. No one else will throw these things away. You are the Grim Reaper. You are the Dark Knight. You are the hero that Gotham deserves.
They will be angry with you in the morning, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe they’ll be so busy yelling at you that they won’t see the outline of body parts still visible on the wall.