Dads and Daughters

Cleaned the garage as a sort of pre-apology for all my misdeeds this coming holiday weekend: the drinking, the lousy jokes, the stupidities at the beach.

I still possess a sense of Midwestern puritanism that triggers remorse, even before I do something inadvisable. That remaining puritanism, a spinning moral compass, is the bedrock of America, if you ask me, which you didn’t. But it is.

Anyway, threw out some dinged-up batting helmets, some old lacrosse sticks, all tokens of my son’s fading boyhood. I didn’t toss all of his toys — I’m not that strong. It was tough enough Saturday, in managing my bookmarks, to delete the parent portal bookmark for his high school.

Change is rotten, isn’t it? But what are you gonna do?

Got a clean garage out of the effort, so that’s a plus. Then I drank too much Chardonnay to ease my bum knee – and repair my drippy heart.

Lately, I’ve also been sneaking Posh’s leftover Ibuprofen. That helps a little too. The stuff doesn’t expire till 2022 so I thought: “Why not? Dr. Steve recommended Ibuprofen, and I have Posh Erskine’s painkillers right here.


Look, I live one day at a time, like butterflies and bank robbers, sipping Chardonnay in the summer heat, keeping an eye out for the authorities.

A Chardonnay-sipping bank robber seems unlikely, which would make him a good character in a crime novel. A Chardonnay-sipping columnist seems even more far-fetched, though a lot less interesting.

Columnists aren’t real outlaws, though they have outlaw tendencies. In the end, we’re kind of bashful.

Think of my progression — from a shot-and-a-beer Chicago dude to an LA ironist/deist who drinks buttery non-oaked white wine. The sense of confusion I feel right now is immeasurable. Hope I don’t run into any friends from high school. Fact is, if most of my California friends caught me drinking Chardonnay, I’d probably hear about it.

There are still things real men shouldn’t do.

So what? I don’t care. I like the Chardonnay in the June heat. It’s crisp and refreshing and doesn’t stay in the food pipe too long, the way a Cab does.

It also helps me empathize with the Chardonnay Moms who run our little town (it’s a choppy mom-ocracy but largely effective).

In fact, a reader gave me an idea the other day. I have this Cubs flag, with a giant W, which I fly on the days the Cubs win, a Chicago tradition. On the days the Cubs lose, I should turn the flag upside down — a giant M to salute the moms.

There goes my Y chromosome. What a weird time to be a man.

As a practicing ironist, I’ve always found it ironic that a woman discovered the Y chromosome — that little flap of the alpha alphabet that distinguishes a guy from a gal.

Nettie Stevens was her name, and just as Marie Currie and Julia Morgan were pioneers in their respective fields, Stevens proved that women are every bit as capable as men in the lab.

Any dad with a daughter knows that. Women don’t need coddling. Cleopatra certainly never needed a “Take Your Daughter to Work Day,” nor did my own Cleopatra (Posh), nor my older daughter.

Yet I took her to work with me anyway.

Back then, you could make a decent argument that girls lagged in business settings, though as an “oppressed” demographic, middle-class American girls rank somewhere between violinists and doctors.

Yet, since “Take Your Daughter to Work Day,” American females have been killing it, outnumbering males in law and medical schools.

Think of that: One silly, token gesture and we started a revolution.

Or maybe they never needed a career boost in the first place. I happen to believe that American girls would’ve found their way on their own, just as Stevens, Currie and Morgan did.

Take Your Daughter to Work day was preposterous.

The lovely and patient older daughter turns 38 today, which seems sort of impossible – wasn’t she just born?

My older daughter is kind of old school. She appreciates it when someone holds a door for her. She doesn’t get bent out of shape when someone sends her flowers.

What she doesn’t need (or want) is special career treatment. Just the notion of that implies some sort of inferiority, hints that she has shortcomings – or lacks the very same opportunities her two brothers had.

She’d laugh at that, call it hogwash (or something stronger).

Was Nettie Stevens a feminist? Was Cleopatra? Dorothy Parker? Yes, finest kind.

They didn’t wait around for handouts. They just did what greats of any gender have always needed to do: They went for it, steamrolling their way over obstacles and doubters.

So, happy birthday, Jess.

I’m proud of you in every possible way, but especially for the fact that you went for it — an alpha woman in a choppy world. You didn’t need permission, you never needed a hand, though that new husband of yours will always be there.

Just think of the daughter you’ll raise.

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12 thoughts on “Dads and Daughters

  1. Another wonderful column…just keep writing. And happy birthday Jess and happy motherhood!

  2. Happy 38th birthday to you lovely & patient daughter, you say how is that possible? My son turns 60 on July 5 , now that can’t be possible either.
    Wishing them both lots of good luck and happiness.

  3. This is beyond sweet. What lovely pictures….memories and memories in the making with your granddaughter. You have raised a fine brood. Happy Birthday, Jess. I am hoisting a chardonnay to toast you!

  4. Beautiful, thoughtful tribute to your daughter on her birthday – she will treasure it. (Eat your heart out, Hallmark). Great photos too. Loved your gem of wisdom: “Change is rotten, isn’t it? But what are you gonna do?”

  5. It always says buttery on the bottle but it seldom is. When I actually find a buttery batch, I photograph the label, but, by that time, I’m drinking and forget to shoot a copy to Evernote. It remains elusive. Happy BDAY gorgeous redhead. Congrats.

  6. Fabulous! Two daughters here!
    The “girls” both names start with “M”,
    like their Mom turn 55 & 50 this year (Yikes!). They both have wonderful daughters, supportive husbands and successful professional careers.
    My contribution? I always told them they were “winners” like their Mom!
    I’m the oldest of three brothers.

  7. What a lovely tribute to your beautiful daughter! I also loved how you touched on her Mother and I’m sure you were thinking of her Grandmother too. Now your family has the embodiment of three generations in one tiny , precious , joyful trinity of perfection! God bless all of you!

  8. Birthday wishes to your lovely and patient Jess. That first pic of her and Catherine Margaret is a gem. Frame it. Glad to hear you’re flying the W flag and the Chardonnay moms aren’t! The W in the wrong hands…I shudder to think. Not only upside down, but hung sideways they’d think it’s E for Etude Chardonnay. Then there goes the neighborhood.

  9. Daughters

    There are women three
    The better part of me
    They sing along—lovely, strong
    My chorused family;
    Their mother, once, long gone
    Went off, left me undone
    But I survived, though unwived—
    My girls and I were one;
    A father’s tale oft told:
    One besot, the other cold
    While each daughter flowed like water
    Never let the heart grow old;
    Many years have passed
    They their own families, at last
    Yet we still rhyme, sing like time
    The harmonies of love held fast;
    Seems in life’s grand design
    Exists some father-daughter enzyme
    To catalyze our separate lives
    Make music there, spice the wine
    How Beautiful ! (Italics mine)…

    A bit of my story, and perhaps—semantically and otherwise—some of yours.

  10. “There are still things real men shouldn’t do” Pickleball!!
    My tennis group would ostracize me if they knew I played!

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