Here’s what you get when you invite me to your class: I give out recipes. And life advice. And I am very boosterish on books.
In Ms. Drange’s fifth-grade class the other day, I told the students: “I hate books. Anybody else here hate books?” and they all raised their hands and laughed, because no adult had ever been quite that honest with them.
Then I explained that I was a writer, so I’m a little weird.
“Anybody else here a little weird?” I asked, and all the hands shot up.
“Careful,” I muttered. ‘You might be writers.”
And then, for almost 30 minutes, we talked about the books we loved. Let me tell you, you can fear all you want for the future, till you speak to a class of ebullient fifth-graders who really love books. Then you realize the world has a chance to wind up better than ever.
At least, that’s the feeling I took away.
Then I gave the Little Einsteins my secret recipe for peanut butter toast with honey: 1) Take some toast; 2) Smear it with peanut butter; 3) Drizzle with honey.
Seriously, scientists say peanut butter toast ignites the same pleasure centers in the brain as puppy love, Easter mornings and phantom tee-shots that go straight and true for 300 yards and you’re not even sure why.
Busy week, right? In addition to supporting Easter and primary education, I’m recovering from the excellent dinner party Big Wave Dave threw the other night.
His wife (Little Wave) was in Texas for the weekend, so Big Wave invited eight slugs like me to stop by for a lavish dad dinner.
I was leery, because most of the dudes didn’t know each other, so there was some pressure to speak up, to fit in, and that’s never been something I’ve done particularly well.
But Big Wave roasted a gigantic slab of cow just like I like it, a little overdone but crusty delicious on the outside, like good barbecue.
Culinary gods, beware: Big Wave Dave is on the moooooooove.
Still, I was dubious about joining eight random dads for a dinner. Plus, Big Wave didn’t have any sports on TV, which is always a mistake at a dinner party. Then Big Wave asked us to talk about our fathers. Sounds awful, right?
As I was telling Suzanne, there should be a term that describes the satisfaction you feel after attending an event you weren’t too keen on — a sense of relief mixed with the elation that it is over and the knowledge that, deep down, it was actually pretty fun.
Look, I love social moments, just not all of them. Who does? Reunions, pub crawls, sure. Dinner parties, banquets, not so much. But I attend everything. Book signings. Baby showers. Batting practices. Scout-O-Ramas.
If you’re ever looking to fill a chair, I’m your guy. I could bring Suzanne. People really seem to like her. She has a breezy California charm. If I could bottle that, I’d be rich.
FYI, after I left the dinner party, my buddy Spiro showed up late. Being Greek, Spiro is a master storyteller, and if you’d really like your event to succeed, you should invite the both of us and skip Suzanne, because she’ll probably blow it off anyway.
But if you could get the three of us, you’d have a hit. Your friends would be talking about it for months – the wacky trio who wouldn’t shut up except to take a big bite of roast beef.
We’ve entered, I’ll warn you, a very social season. My first urge is to nail shut my door and draw the drapes.
My second urge is to get the hell out there to all the banquets and the stag dinner parties.
At Big Wave’s party, we talked a lot about dads. How we’re different from our own dads, less stoic, except for this one dude who lost his father when he was young and had to step in to become the man of the house. All these years later, he assumes that strong paternal role. Bless him for that. Fatherhood is, at its best, instinctual.
Read all the manuals you like. Watch the instructional videos, the TV shows, the movies. But in the end, fatherhood is about gut instinct and devotion.
If you have a good dad, you have a super hero.
Devoted dads don’t get enough credit. They are the cornerstones of really good dinner parties.
Heck, they are the cornerstones of really good lives.
Happy Easter and Passover, from our home to yours. Don’t celebrate? Then toast the fact that this holiday—any holiday — brings together friends and family. And please give, in this season of resurrection, everyone the space they need to be what they need to be. Now that’s worth celebrating. Cheers.
12 thoughts on “Good Eggs”
You nailed it, My Friend. All dads who make an effort to relate to their kids and be there for them through all angsty trials of youth ARE Super Heroes. My dad was one and even though I only had him until the start of my senior year of high school, he left an indelible mark in so many areas of my life, especially a love of books! Speaking of which, Super Dad Writer, I am impatiently waiting for October and your bear book’s debut. Happy Easter.
Caroll. Wish I had known your dad. And thanks for mentioning the book! Very happy to have that done and on the calendar.
Chris I know my dad would have been a huge fan of yours. He had a great sense of humor too. He was a PhD in English lit who voluntarily left the ivory tower of UC to teach at Orange Coast community College because he loved helping adults with literacy. He was the most contented, optimistic person I ever met. I try to emulate that as best I can.
Happy Easter Chris to you and your family. You sure are right about good dads and I believe mine was the best. My husband is a pretty great one too. Gut instinct and devotion are the two words I would use for anyone brave enough to take on parenting.
Happy Easter to you and yours, Chris–enjoy!
One of the reasons I watch Huell Howser on PBS is that his voice reminds me of my Tennessee-born dad. They also shared a love of travel, especially the quirky places, and I try to emulate.
“Then Big Wave asked us to talk about our fathers. Sounds awful, right?”
But actually a great idea Big Wave came up with.
Towards the end of my own dad’s life we were finally able to say “I love you” to each other. Worth the wait. He was a very smart man, but alcoholic, and remote. But we became close at the end, and liked each other. I wish I’d spent more time with him. Never a good idea to underestimate how important a father is. I cried like a baby when he died. Never cried that hard or long in my life. Hit me much harder than I ever would have imagined.
Great column, Chris! Happy Easter!
He is risen indeed!!
Behavioral research tells us it takes10,000 hours of practice to mint a world class expert in most disciplines including the arts. Even genius can usually stand some sharpening. You exceeded the requisite level of honing via experience decades ago. After all, who lived and wrote “Daditude”? I think you must have been in the writer’s room when the script for Parenthood” was being written, and on the set as a highly compensated technical advisor on all things “Fatherly. Those school kids you gifted were getting mainlined by a guru and paterfamilias talking daddese in their own argot. I doubt anything was lost in translation.
Yet, as we both know, a dad is like a one-armed pitcher without the silvery, slivery, loverly, shiverly presence of someone like Suzanne. As a dad, you can still pitch—even put it over the plate—but your fastball lacks that assured, knowledgeable hop it once had, and your curve no longer buzzes—leaves a lot to be desired; and don’t even try a slider—it tends to end up in the dirt, without the levitation provided by a proximate silky sweetie behind the plate. Kids are at bat 24/7. Balance is everything; for a daddeo…..
It’s Easter, a time to ponder resurrection in all its many forms and guises, and to be thankful for the lift Spring gives to whatever we dads pitch. This year, the rise seems especially spectacular. And that moon—has it ever been so clearly elevated by light? Is there a sinuous wave or two in its radiance?
I would have loved to see a picture of the DAD dinner and youse guys! Reading this makes me nostalgic for something I never had….a DAD…..I think I would have liked to have had someone like you to fill that gap….
I wish I would have dad memories, never had one around, but I helped my husband become a great dad and Papa to our grandkids!!
Chris, I agree with you about the future! I recently had the pleasure of spending time with some ebullient 4th graders in Mrs. Durazzo’s class in Long Beach. The PTA created a reading program where volunteers choose a book from a basket in the office and read to the class. I chose Hidden Figures, a version written for young students, and the kids were attentive and not shy about making comments! We’ll be all right!