(Some language as always will be a little salty and slightly NSFW. Just so you know.)
Growing up in the 70s & 80s, I got to witness when dads were being called upon to start doing more than they had. Beginning of the end of the era where men could easily have virtually nothing to do with actually parenting their kids. Before, they could drift off to a living room with a drink and watch baseball in silent masculine machismo misery. But back then it began to change, maybe thanks to progress like Gloria Steinem, burning bras, and the Equal Rights Amendment fight. (By the way, it still boggles my tiny little mind that the ERA didn't pass. Of course, at that time, Congress was even more filled with men than it is now. In fact, it was 200% men in Congress. Basically almost all men and each of those men had at least two dicks, all the better to dick the American people over with.) Along with society, pop culture was changing things with songs like Cat Stevens "Father and Son" and John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy" and dads on TV went from being brusque domineering wife and child beaters to being kind and somewhat understanding.
However, it still wasn't a time where real life dads did a ton more with their kids than before or shared their feelings or didn't mostly just communicate primarily through sports. (There might be a double negative in there, but don't go all negative on it.) But that was then and this is now and even if I was back with Don Draper, I couldn't be Don Draper. I'm an oversensitive, whiny baby and I overthink things. This might be good traits in a writer trying to find emotion in characters, but in a dad, it can get complicated. Because I overthink things, there's not virtually anything that I do as a dad that I don't think will do damage to them in some way.
If you don't show them enough attention, they'll grow up and turn into raging pricks. If you show them too much attention, they'll grow up and turn into entitled douchebags. There are 5 trillion studies that prove all of this and that EVERYTHING you do is wrong. I'm not an expert in raising kids or child psychology, but I do know when I see my kids emulating me in various ways, I'm not all full of yippees. I don't want them to be the man I am, I want them to be so much better.
Driving in Los Angeles, my kids get to see me at my worst. Once you get in a car in Los Angeles, each driver is in need of an exorcism as things take over our mouths and bodies in ways that would never occur. When you get cut off in the supermarket by an old lady's cart, you aren't a flurry of middle fingers and shouting offensive words. (Which is because that would be rude - and she's probably very close to death, so who cares?) So you behave like a decent human being when dealing with people in person. But once you get in your little moving box of glass and metal and plastic, you are in a very expensive tank that everyone should respect, just as you respect their moving tanks.
Despite those unrealistic hopes though and trying to model good basic human behavior, you drive on to the freeway and all bets are off. Immediately words and gestures come flying out of you. Most of the time you remember you have ears in the backseat, but sometimes not. And when you don't, you realize they're these little snitch sponges that soak up everything and regurgitate it out when you least expect it. They also can pick up on things you don't think they can pick up on.
Years ago, when driving down the street and a guy walked right down the middle of the street as though it wasn't for cars, I muttered to myself, "Out of the way, dickhead." From behind, I heard my three-year-old ask, "Why'd you call him that?" Without missing a beat, I answered casually: "Because that's his name... Richard Head. Dick's a nickname for Richard." And to be honest, I didn't know that guy's name wasn't that.
So the key to me being the kind of me dad that I can live with, I have to reconcile my being an okay dad. And with a lot of dads not being present, merely by showing up I'm probably ahead of the curve slightly. I start the dad game with house money just by being around. By waking up with my kid in the middle of the night and rocking him back to sleep. By not spanking them or belittling them. By listening to them talk about Minecraft and Terraria and Plants vs. Zombies as if it makes sense to me and pretending to be terribly interested. By trying to understand that I need to just be the best I can be and hope that therapy in the future will cover the rest.
My TCM Week
(I love DVR-ing random films off TCM. Here are some things I recently watched, probably a long time after they initially aired on TCM.)
This past week of what I've been watching on TCM from my DVR are two films that are part of their Female Directors series. The first I watched was VALLEY GIRL. I'd seen it before a few years ago and it didn't do much for me then, but this time it was pure magic. The music is beyond spectacular with a ton of hits of that time. One of the key songs is the constantly cheerful, "I Melt with You." But the real find for me this time was this song by Sparks that played during a romantic scene. Immediately I had to go and find it and now I've been doing nothing but listening to Sparks songs for the past week.
Here's the song I dug and it's a delightful earworm of the first order.
(The odd thing is that my favorite song of the summer is a surprisingly chirpy song called "Piss Off" by FFS, which is Franz Ferdinand with this band Sparks from the 80s. And I had no idea because I put the "idea" in "idiot".)
And it had Nicholas Cage with some very weird V-shaped chest hair, so there's that, too.
Also, I watched FIRST LOVE with William Katt and Susan Dey, another of the female directors series. So in it, basically, the Greatest American Hero and the L.A. Law lady have a fair amount of sex, Katt calls her the c word you're really not supposed to call a lady, and he asks her if she has an orgasm.
Now, I loved THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO so much as a kid that I shout-sang crazy-"Let-It-Go"-FROZEN-style the theme song during my elementary school music class like a deranged person. (I might have even been weeping.) Thus, years later, I turned my love of that song into a bedtime lullaby for both my sons when they were babies. And now that I saw this film, I'm not sure I'll ever look that superhero or sing that song the same again. Once you hear Ralph Hinkley ask Ms. L.A. LAW about orgasms, it's all a bit tainted.
Also, Dey is involved with a much older Robert Loggia. And she's choosing between a young soccer-playin' William Katt and a mid-40s cheatin' Loggia. Because why would you choose Katt when you can break yourself off a piece of Robert Loggia.
What's amazing to me is that this film came out in 1977. The same year a film William Katt auditioned for a character called Luke Skywalker came out. How things could be so different with the smallest of changes.
So that's it for now. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you all have a brilliant week!
the T stands for Machismo