Father’s Day is fast approaching, Sunday June 20, 1951.
Whoops. Our bad. 2021.
Forgive us for being confused. We took a look at your gift list and forgot what century we are in.
Ties? Power tools? Cooking utensils? All great gifts for Ward Cleaver, as he comes home from his hard day at the Hula Hoop factory – or anywhere in the mid-century he works while his wife is home doing the job. women’s work.
Let us clarify: this hasn’t been a dad for a while.
This guy with the pipe and slippers (wanted by a beloved sheepdog) who wears ties and does weekend grilling and DIY projects – this guy, if he ever existed, died around 1965. Yet he – rather than our real one, probably Papa is much more interesting – is the guy most of us get gifts for every June.
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No wonder Father’s Day is, from a gift giver’s perspective, so boring. These are essentially the same old gifts since the custom was established in 1910.
We are in 2021. Social roles are changing. Even the most conventional of us are familiar with terms like “stay-at-home dad” and “non-binary”. So why on Father’s Day do we still give Daddy golf clubs?
Here are some alternative suggestions.
You know your own father better, of course. But we believe that, in the second decade of the 21st century, it is time to think outside the box.
Instead of a tie … How about a scarf?
Ties have their uses. Funerals. Bar mitzvah. Court appearances where the lawyer asks you to “clean up”.
But we’re not the tie, office, and 9-to-5 culture that we once were. Many of us post-COVID may not even have offices. So what do we wear if we want to look relaxed yet stylish in our new workplace, home?
Can we suggest… a silk aviator scarf?
The scarves are elegant, slender, full of panache and attitude. Who would remember Aristide Bruant, the French cabaret artist Toulouse-Lautrec immortalized in his paintings, without this epic scarf?
And if your dad thinks scarves are a bit frilly, remind him that scarves were used, during the reign of Emperor Cheng in the Han Dynasty, around 33 BC, as a mark for officers and warriors. And that 17th century Croatian soldiers wore different kinds of scarves to distinguish their military ranks: silk for officers, cotton for soldiers. “Croatian” in French is “Cravate”. Hence: Tie.
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Instead of power tools … how about gardening tools?
Giving mom a blank for Mother’s Day is, as everyone knows, a justifiable motive for homicide. But for some reason, the company has ruled that it’s perfectly okay to give Dad a Black & Decker power tool on his special day.
That’s because – presumably – doing repair chores around the house isn’t a job for my dear old daddy. It’s funny. He will tell you that himself. Come to think of it, he never did.
And that’s always assuming pop is practical. What if it was a klutz? Putting an electric drill in such hands might make you an afterthought.
Yes, of course, it’s manly to hammer nails, dig holes and tear drywall. But maybe, if dad is going to have tools, we could try it on something a little more… nurturing.
A spade, a trowel, a weeder – just put it there – can help dad express his caring side. Imagine the pleasure he will have caring for each small plant while it is budding and flowering. Where was that tender and sensitive guy when you were growing up?
Instead of grill utensils … how about a vegan cookbook?
Traditional daddy, from 1951, loved nothing better than slapping a large chunk of meat on the grill and then laying it on the plate with the spatula and grill tongs you generously provided him that day. Father’s Day – without really wondering how that could benefit you, his steak-loving child.
But Sensitive 2021 Papa knows cows have feelings, the planet is in danger, and a sustainable food supply is the way of the future. You can start him on the path to becoming a responsible steward of the planet with this year’s Father’s Day gift: a brand new vegan cookbook.
He will thank you. Earth will thank you. And guess what – the seitan steaks he makes will be just as tasty as the ribeyes he makes. It was still the marinade, anyway.
Instead of cologne … how about a bubble bath?
Ah, the intoxicating smell of rum and leather. Old school dad wanted to smell like a tack room. In the Caribbean.
But the new school dad knows he’s capable of giving off so many other interesting smells. Lavender. Mahogany. Dark cocoa. Citrus zest. And why brush, or spray, when you can bask in a delicious bubble bath?
Bubble baths were once considered something for women, but at the time, the Army National Guard was considered something for men. There is now at least one company, TOA Waters, which makes bubble baths specially designed for men. “Muscular scents”, as company founder Javier Folgar (originally from Wayne) calls them. It smells like a good idea to us.
Instead of a shaving kit … how about a beard wash set?
Trad Dad liked to shave. A clean face is what he lived for. Some guys, prone to five o’clock shade – Nixon was a famous example – shaved at least twice a day. Beards were for “artists”. The beards were weird.
Now, of course, every red-blooded American wants to look like a hunter-gatherer from the Paleolithic era. And the business world, which in Ward Cleaver’s day frowned upon such things, is all aboard with beards. The beards are manly. They make their soldiers look more “aggressive”.
So forget about the razor, the foam, the aftershave. Your father’s whiskers don’t need trimming, but encouragement. Beard care products are many and varied.
What if your father does not to have a beard? Tell him you’re expecting big things next Father’s Day.
Instead of golf clubs … how about knitting needles?
Hitting the links, along with a few buddies, is how the alpha male from an earlier era spent his free time. And it’s not hard to see why. It takes patience, reflexes, coordination.
Well, you know what else takes patience, reflexes, coordination? Knitting.
Knitting, over the past 10 years, has become popular with guys on college campuses and other dodgy places. And like golf, it requires the right equipment.
On this Father’s Day, skip the niblick mashie and head straight to the combed alley. Your father will thank you. Maybe he’ll even knit you an afghan.
Instead of a pipe … how about a pipe?
Daddy with the pipe is a classic daddy: Papa 1.0. He’s the image we all have of the square-jawed father figure filling the room with tobacco smoke as he sits in the recliner reading his newspaper.
Well, Daddy 2.0 still smokes a pipe. Only maybe not the same kind of pipe.
There are a lot of cool smoking facilities out there these days. Marijuana is legal in New Jersey, so we’re not even taking a risk here.
Jim Beckerman is an entertainment and culture reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to his insightful reports on how you spend your free time, please register or activate your digital account today.
Twitter: @ jimbeckerman1