I’ve been meaning to write a short story about fathers and sons. I had the first line and everything, ‘My father was two years old when Hemingway killed himself’. Not bad, eh? I’d read on. The trouble is, that’s as far as I’ve got. I was planning to write something about how we’re all disappointed by our idols, play on Hemingway as ‘Papa’, but, to be honest, I’m sure my dad couldn’t care less about Hemingway. I leant him A Farewell to Arms once, and when I asked him if he wanted to borrow another, he said ‘Nah, I’m alright’ (just like that wanker in the Maccy D advert) and went back to his Clive Cussler.
I’d sacked off the whole idea until a sense of uncertain dread settled in my stomach a few days ago and I realised: Father’s Day was approaching. Father’s Day and Mother’s Day happen at least 3 times a year, every year. They’re the sort of event that can upset any normal day. You’ll be walking along, and suddenly you’ll see huge adverts in card shop windows and flower stalls will go into hyperdrive, as though geraniums have only just been invented. The trouble is that America insists on having its own father’s day just long enough after ours that we’ve forgotten about the whole sorry mess, and started panicking again. ‘Is it father’s day this Sunday? I know we have had that before, but maybe that was in 2008?’ It’s just unfair.
If you’re away at university, you can get away with missing Father’s Day (or birthdays, funerals...). You’ve got a lot on, and no one expects you to remember everything. At university, a phone call is considered good form. Unless you’re a wet southerner, there’s really no need to go home from uni for the entire week just so ‘Da’ gets a few more bottles of Lynx shower gel one Sunday out of the year.
However, if you’ve just graduated and have been living off your parent’s dollar for the last 6 months, it might be a good idea to get the old man at least a token present. Having said that, I don’t think my dad could really care less. We pretty much just let each other get on with things and, in time-honoured British tradition, we don’t really go in for this ‘bonding’ nonsense. Therefore, I had no qualms about accepting a job which would involve flying out to Ibiza on father’s day. The old man was pleased someone wanted to give me work, and he knows he’ll get his box of Twiglets a day early.
I appreciate that this is a pretty cushty relationship with the old boy and probably means I’m taking him a bit for granted. He has his moments. Plus, he did keep me alive for those first few years when I liked to chew electrical wires. Besides, only yesterday my friend was telling me how his baby momma wouldn’t let him see his infant son for more than a few hours per month. On the other side of things, one of my best friends lost his father a few years back and would certainly have sacked off the chance to go to Ibiza, had his dad still been around this Sunday. I suppose, because everyone’s situation is different, we should make the most of our fathers/children while we can.
I hope in ten years, my own son (or daughter) wants to spend father’s day with me. I imagine us hanging out, listening to The Beatles, eating loads of Oreos and then watching Drive. Surely I’d deserve some presents after that. I think, actually, I might get my dad a card and a present this year, why not? It’s got to be hard taking care of a baby that won’t stop shitting itself, or a teenager who wants to fight you, or a 23 year-old who eats all the best food in the fridge without thinking twice. All in all, fatherhood sounds like a tough gig and I suppose none of us will really know what we’re doing when we get to that point, all we can do is try. I won’t end this article by saying ‘I love you, Dad’, because as much as I enjoyed my breakfast, I don’t want to see it again. What I will say is, you’re alright Andy, you’re alright.