GREAT GIFT FOR DAD

Home Depot, El Cerrito.
GREAT GIFT FOR DAD, Home Depot, El Cerrito , CA.

As fate would have it, I went out early the day before Baba’s Day to engage in a most fatherly of exploits: buy a lawnmower. Ours had died the week before, and a small herd of preschoolers and their families were headed to our back yard later in the morning to assemble and kind of graduate-ish. (About which, more later.)  Per early morning hardware store run custom, I stopped by the donut shop for a cup of hazelnut coffee and a maple bar, and allowed myself to drift through an aisle or two en route to the cordless electric mower my fellow co-housers had agreed upon.  I was stopped in my tracks by the exceedingly handsome grill pictured above, not because I coveted it (I would, but fortunately my brother-in-law has one just like it and I get to use it all the time, Scott-free), but because, despite the sign plastered across it, this thing would have intimidated the bejeepers out of my own dad during his own grilling days. “SCARY GIFT FOR DAD,” more like it.

I was well into high school before my parents even bought a grill–a two-tone, copper-brown, Weber number–perhaps even only because my sister and I persuaded them to? I don’t even remember, but it wasn’t really like them to acquire suburban paraphernalia or to accessorize their culinary lives. (Case in point: our dishwasher broke some time in the early 1970s and thereafter all we did was use it as a kind of hidden drying rack for hand-washed dishes.) What I do remember is that my dad, never so terribly well-versed in the more manly (less gentlemanly) of the manly arts, gamely tried to light the charcoal briquettes once with a very generous helping of camping fuel, when we had run out of lighter fluid.

For good measure, he popped the lid on after throwing on the match–to ensure the heat stayed in? God knows what he was thinking.  “Ka-BOOM!” the story went: the top blew off the kettle and flew up onto the roof. Or perhaps it just shot several feet away; in the years following the retelling, I think the pyrotechnics may have become exaggerated. I just remember that the other key part of the story was that my mom looked up from her reading somewhere in the house, realized that my dad had just exploded the barbecue kettle, and then went back to her reading.

All of which to say: there are all kinds of masculinities, and there are all kinds of dads. There are the kinds that thrill to an early morning trip to Home Depot, and there are others that wouldn’t know the business end of a gas-powered grill or even a cordless drill, and who would in fact much prefer a good book, a handsome watch, or even simply a bunch of quality time with their family on their day. My dad–who, god love him, is still here at 91 and who proudly watched his youngest grandson “graduate” pre-school in my freshly mown back yard yesterday–raised me to be a little bit of all of the above.  For him, and his own long journey to becoming (and accepting, in his own way) the man he was, and the example of self-made, off-brand masculinity he has provided me, I am infinitely grateful.

Happy FaBa’s Day to all, and to all a Happy FaBa’s Day!*

Some topically related ditties, if you’re in the mood for more:

{Father’s Day + Baba’s Day = FaBa’s Day, in my fam. Say it with pride, and enjoy it with a nice chianti.}

One Response to GREAT GIFT FOR DAD

  1. winnie June 19, 2012 at #

    I enjoyed reading your post! It brought back to mind when I was a kid and my dad would bbq and he would douse the coals in lighterfluid and “boom” up the flames would go..Mom would yell that he was going to burn downt he garage! But as burned as he would make things, those memories are great ones.. Glad you had a great day!

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