Sunday, June 19

FATHER'S DAY VERSUS MOTHER'S DAY -- AN INVIDIOUS DISTINCTION?

I called my Father earlier this week to alert him that I had sent him a small carton via UPS for "Father's Day" and to be looking for it to land on his front entranceway by no later than Friday; and, in the context of that phone call, the two of us got into a bit of a discussion on "Father's Day" versus "Mother's Day." This, I should add, is not the first time (nor will it be the last) that my Father has pontificated on the subject.

He told me he had been listening to Rush Limbaugh and that Rush was throwing out some compelling statistics to prove that fathers invariably get the short end of the stick in terms of these two days of parental recognition. I don't vouch for the following, but my Dad quoted Rush as saying that Mother's Day shopping generates something like a billion dollars in additional retail sales for the national economy, while Father's Day barely makes the cash register ring above the norm. Rush was also quoted as saying that Father's Day generates the highest number of "collect calls" placed of any day of the year! We were laughing over the latter (or at least I was) and calling to mind that while the ramp up to "Father's Day" generates the inevitable television commercials and Leno/Letterman monologue jokes about the garish, unstylish ties fathers oftentimes receive that go into the drawer never to be worn, "Mother's Day" provokes instead a reverential seriousness.

Well, I'm not so sure about all of this. My Dad must have forgotten that one year when I was growing up at home I gave my Mother one of those silly, green-plastic putting machines that shoots the ball back to you if you roll the golf ball across the floor and into the cup. She wasn't terribly impressed, as she wasn't a golfer at the time and didn't own a putter! But if I failed her in terms of the practicality of the gift, I can tell you it became quite the conversation piece over the years. Seems no loving sentiment ever expressed in a Hallmark "Mother's Day" card I gave her quite rivaled her recollection of that ridiculous gift. Whenever the subject came up my sisters, brother and I would laugh heartily about my curious choice of gifts, while my Mom would look annoyed and irrevocably hurt.

But my Dad's clincher (this coming not from Rush) in making his case of the invidious distinction between the day set aside to honor mothers versus that for fathers was that no matter where you try to take your wife and the flock on "Mother's Day" -- whether it be out for breakfast, brunch or dinner -- you inevitably encounter long lines and long waits to get a table and that you simply don't confront anything akin to this on "Father's Day."

Well, Pop, there's probably a reason for this that isn't quite so bleak. Women prefer a day spent out of the kitchen and having someone else waiting on them for a change. Men, by contrast, would rather put a steak on the Weber grill (or some babyback ribs in the smoker) in the middle of June then to fret about getting dressed up, putting on that ugly tie, and sitting in a half-empty restuarant! Besides, the big screen T.V. beckons, as does Pinehurst #2 and the final round of the U.S. Open!