***All rights reserved
William Ashley says “Dad deserves the best” this Father’s Day but the retailer is hedging its bets with a 1/8th of a page newspaper ad. I couldn’t help but think the careful exuberance was symbolic of where we’re at with Father’s Day—that it’s the postscript, the lint in the pocket... the loose change of annual observances.
But dad does deserve the best, so what’s going on?
In terms of consumer spending Father’s Day still lags behind Mother’s Day. In their 2014 Father’s Day Spending Survey, The National Retail Federation in the States puts the premium on moms at about 33 cents on the dollar.
Of course, I don’t mean to suggest that we should put something as garish as a price tag on parental love, but moms could share some of the spotlight and make Father’s Day a little more memorable.
If I were a dad I’d be inclined to kick up a fuss about the imbalance. Isn’t it yet more evidence that, in spite of his achievements over the past few decades, dad is still the second-stringer—the bumbling buffoon on the B-list who thinks chocolate cake is the breakfast of champions?
Personally, I’d be lost in a parenting wasteland without my husband. And it’s not because he picks up slack or fills in gaps or stays sober long enough to “babysit” his own progeny. No. Mark, like many other dads today, has earned his kudos by being a truly loving, dedicated and supportive caregiver.
I am doubly appreciative because, in addition to the nurturing, my husband also fixes things—things that were made in China, things that were designed to break 3.5 seconds after coming into contact with a human child. (Dad’s Fix-it Shop is a sole proprietorship that turns a brisk and impressive bit of business for its number one customer.)
Because our son is still young, mounting a large scale show of appreciation for his dad this year will be mostly my job. Unfortunately, like many men, my husband is hard to shop for. From neckties to jellybeans there are lots of options but none of them are quite right for my husband.
Menswear is always popular but I have to fight the temptation to dress Mark like a Ken doll heading out on an African Safari, awash in khaki and tan. Even if he had a closet full of fashionable Tilley Endurables, my husband’s definition of weekend casual is a paint-splattered T-shirt and an old baseball cap with a frayed brim.
If money were no object, I’d explore William Ashley’s offering of meticulously hand-crafted, snake and crocodile-themed desk accessories. Nothing says 21st Century Man like slitting direct mail solicitations with a $500 jade letter opener. Actually, Mark might like that one...until the credit card bill arrives.
The home and garden section of the hardware store has lots of gift-giving options for some men, but not my husband. Mark says they’ve gone soft: Too much pleasure and not enough pain. As the consummate putterer he gets kind of twitchy and nervous if there are too many instruments of lolly-gagging in our yard. So, the Mayan hammock and the floating recliner lounger with dual cup holders were out.
The Lee Valley catalogue arrived, which was promising, but it had a lot of woman-stuff masquerading as man-stuff. I got very excited about the Flexzilla garden hose, though, which might actually save my marriage:
Me: Look, not only is it lightweight, but it actually resists kinks and tangles!
Mark: Yeah, well you still have to put the [insert expletive] thing away!
Some of the tools caught my eye, but me buying my husband tools is like him buying me a bra: Neither of us has a clue about the other’s equipment needs.
I’m thinking of taking a page from Martha Stewart and going homemade and whole-hog. Her beer-braised bratwurst with cabbage is a manly-meal. The only downside is that Mark might need 48-hours of solitary confinement until the epic feast has worked its way through his digestive tract. (I’ll serve it with a bran chaser, that’ll do the trick!)
I asked my son (known in these parts as mini-Mark) for some ideas and he says the best for “our daddy” (the child is oblivious to the husband-wife connection) is a picnic. I thought it was a great idea so together we’ll unleash our super picnic-powers on a neighbouring community.
It won’t show up on any consumer spending indices, but it’s old-fashioned and extremely labour-intensive, both of which will make my husband happy. Come to think of it, maybe there’s more to this dad-casting disparity than meets the eye?
Anyway, enjoying a June afternoon, lying on a blanket on somebody else’s grass, is the perfect way to say Happy Father’s Day. That it will keep dad outdoors when the bran and bratwurst kick in? Well, that’s just a bonus.