About ten years ago, a woman from the U.K. told me that in a British poll, Homer Simpson had been voted “the most influential living American.” One thing hasn’t changed much over the last decade: men don’t get a lot of respect in the popular media. Best case, they come off as lovable though horny goofballs like Joey and Chandler on Friends. Worst case they are portrayed as liars and nincompoops who couldn’t survive a day without the steadying hand of a woman. Without Carl’s Jr. bacon cheeseburgers, some guys would starve.
If you believe the marketing experts who layout the Father’s Day advertising supplements, the male imagination is limited to Docker’s shorts, socket-wrench sets, wide-screen TV’s, and golf balls.
When I was in the first grade, my bus used to stop to drop off a boy at a corner then turn uphill toward my house a mile away. One day that boy’s father shot himself; it was clearly accidental. He was a WWII veteran who brought home a German luger, and as he was cleaning the gun, he forgot the round in the chamber. The details were discussed all over the schoolyard and the kitchen table at home; how the man had tried to reach the telephone before he died. I lay awake quite a few nights with this reminder of my father’s mortality. I think of that boy every Father’s Day and wonder what thoughts he has. It may be that no one appreciates a father as much as those who have lost or never had one.
Father’s Day is a nice time to celebrate the expressions of men’s generosity as they have appeared in our lives. It’s a time to celebrate every man who ever told us, “You can do it,” and made us believe we could.