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.