I asked my husband, Larry Bleidner, the author of Mack Daddy: Mastering Fatherhood without Losing your Style, Your Cool, Your Mind, to give his take on Father's Day. And it's not pretty:
If love has a price, it seems Mom is worth more than dad - about 55% more. That's the spread between what Americans spend on Mother's Day Gifts versus Father's Day gifts. The trend holds up with greeting cards. Mother's Day is the biggest card sending holiday, trumping even Christmas, while dad ranks 4th behind Mother's Day, Christmas and what... Arbor Day? It matters not. As any horse-player knows, 4th place isn't even "in the money." It's as meaningless as never running at all.
Why the discrepancy? Are Dads simply less loved? Are they more likely to be reviled by children and spouses because, as those Lifetime movies used to teach us, all dads are violent, vile villains who will, at some point in their scurrilous lives, require a restraining order to keep mom and the kids safe from their fiendish clutches?
Maybe the Father's Day gift gap has a more arcane explanation: Moms are far superior manipulators. From early on, they control the love spigot throughout the family. Who always winds up as bad cop/family enforcer? Dad. Why? A childhood of "wait until your father gets home," that's why. While mom is first on scene to bandage knees and soothe bruised egos, Dad gets stuck grounding junior and revoking privileges. Have you ever sent a gift to the cop who gave you a speeding ticket?
Who would deny females excel at emotional exploitation? Guilt trips, crocodile tears, emotional blackmail, ego pumping, sympathy plays, diversion and deceptions are all standard issue of the female tool box. Men get a hammer, pliers and a screwdriver. That's it.
And what of the clichéd gifts? Women actually like flowers and dinners out. Any man whose eyes light up at the sight of a necktie or soap-on-a-rope, has brain damage.
So just in case any moms or kids are wondering what dad really wants for Father's Day, here's a list of 10 bullet-proof, guaranteed-he's-gonna-love-it ideas:
- A fireworks assortment - especially if fireworks are illegal in your area.
- A collection of Jason Statham DVDs (ones where he kicks everyone's ass).
- The collected works of Sam Kineson.
- 10 extra nights out with the boys, redeemable at any time.
- A black powder canon (carbide if on a budget).
- A catapult - large enough to hurl a toilet several zip codes.
- A '65 GTO/'Vette/'Cuda/Charger - any will do.
- Army surplus stuff — Kabar knife, gas mask, ammo dump (preferably filled with ammo).
- Anything having to do with surviving an apocalypse - preferably a nuclear caliber bomb shelter with ordnance and provisions for at least a decade (think Walking Dead — ALL dads want to play in that game — and win).
- Anything 007 - Aston Martin DBVII, sterling hip-flask, gimmicked wristwatch, evil femme fatale - okay, if none are available, how about a pair of tricky cuff links so he'll feel extra slick at the chemin de fer table?
Good shopping - and let's close that gift gap, people!