I know you think I'm going to tell you again about how I gave my dad a shingle with a hole drilled in it for Father’s Day, how he scornfully cast it aside and I was ashamed. No, I won't tell you that one.
Instead, let me tell you about a Father’s Day story the Alibi originally had planned for you. They were going to print a two-page spread of the human body with little arrows (or dustpans, or rolling pins) pointing to the various places where fathers should worry about getting cancer, delivered with wry and clinical authority. Had it been a joke and had someone been tickling me, I might have swallowed the mint, but it was honestly and earnestly conceived of that deadly, prodding maternal glee fathers have endured since the smilodon days.
“You're not going to wear that rotten old loincloth to the Smilodon Festival, are you?”
Whatever. It's Father’s Day, and it should feel like a frat party. For those of you who imagine fathers like to think about cancer, let me suggest some other things fathers might like to think about, or receive as gifts.
Switchblades. Fathers like weapons, and switchblades are wicked but also illegal and hard to find. What you need to know is that “spring assisted” knives are legal, easy to find and almost as cool as switchblades. Imagine the powerful snap as your dad pops out his razor-sharp poniard and opens a totally sweet credit card offer, or maybe lops off a chunk of cheddar cheese at supper. Mom will swoon and admire him once again.
Shirts with numbers on them. I don’t know about you, but from age 5 through 8, I refused to wear any shirt that didn’t have a big number on the front, like I was a tiny pro football player. Sometimes I’d even stuff toilet paper in the shoulders so it would look like I was wearing shoulder pads, and get up at five in the morning like Joe Namath. Now, sadly, I have exactly zero shirts with numbers on them and I no longer give one tit about sports, but I think it’s an excellent fashion concept that’s ripe for revisiting in middle age. It’s even better if the shirt doesn’t reference any sports team that actually exists in the world. “Hey ding-dong, what team has brown and green colors?” “Suck it. It’s a new team for cool people.”
Fireworks. Fathers like explosions that are bigger than sparklers. Those big Fourth of July fireworks are actually not too expensive if you can find them, though they’re also illegal within the city limits. Still, fathers like mildly illegal things, and fireworks are a great way to celebrate the first real rainfall in Stucker knows how long. Somebody watch for cops.
Monster movies. I like to watch people die horribly at the hands of otherworldly creatures. Some guys like football movies.
Old coins. I don’t care who you are, father or not: A silver dollar from the 1800s is a baba’s gift, and you can get them for around $20. They’re probably worth about $15, and that’s why people get into the antique coin business. Later on, you can steal back your dad’s coin and buy cigarettes.
Comic books. Comic book stores often sell big bundles of mystery grab bag comics for cheap; most of the comics suck, but at least there are a bunch of them. Give your father the gift of hoping they don’t all suck.
Arrowheads, fossils. Again, if you know a father who doesn’t own a genuine trilobite fossil, he needs one. Arrowheads are cool, too, but don’t bother with the crappy sweatshop knockoffs they sell in a basket at the truck stop. You need the real McCoy. Don’t bother with those little black fossilized shark teeth, either. All dads have seen those, and they lost their allure like 30 years ago.
Taxidermy. Fathers like dead animals adorning their abodes. A nice wall-mounted antelope head can set you back plenty unless you find it at a yard sale. Most moms don’t like dead creatures in the home, but animal skulls are a nice compromise and readily affordable. Let your father celebrate the grotesque beauty of nature with a bleached beaver skull.
CDs, ukuleles, harmonicas and distortion pedals. How about letting your father make a joyous sound unto the Lord with some horrible music nobody else likes? Let him honk honk honk around your hideous house of blues for a day, pretending he’s a ridiculous asshole musician. Or get him a CD of somebody else doing it. Sunglasses not included, Mr. Joel.
Lava lamps. Statistics show that your dad never owned a lava lamp but always thought they were cool. They’re not, really, but that’s his problem. Or could be.
Firearms. Fathers like guns. If your father has actual guns, leave it alone. If he doesn’t, I suggest that a nice BB gun or air soft gun would be fun for him. He can shoot stuff, and it will fall over. He will feel powerful, if only for a fleeting moment.
Survival books. In the bathroom, books are the natural painkillers that help take a father’s mind off the grunting, sweating reality of his own disgusting body. I think survival books are fun. It’s like you’re in a Patrick Swayze movie about survival stuff.
Weird booze. Dad’s going to buy his regular beer and bourbon along with your cornflakes, so gifting his regular brand is about as much fun as a gallon of gas. However, he probably wonders if that grape-flavored bourbon is any good. It’s not, but you could make that his problem and wash your hands of it.
Spy gear. Turn your father into a god by allowing him to see around corners, open locked doors and hear bitchy conversations from a mile away. They make stuff like that. I don’t know if any of it works.
Practical jokes. Fake vomit’s always fun. Well, almost always. Do they make fake tampons? “Dude, get that tampon out of my ... oh, I get it. It’s one of those fake tampons from the magic shop.”
Snack foods. Mom makes dad feel guilty about eating, so he feels awful every time he throws a bag of chips into the shopping cart and lies about how it’s for the kids. Give your dad a day off with a giant container of something that will turn him into the fat piece of shit his doctor told him he would be. Stupid doctor, delicious is for dad. Can’t you just see mom standing in the den, arms crossed, shaking her head?
Funny things. Some fathers have a great sense of humor; others only laugh at sex jokes. There’s nothing funny about a father getting a book that’s supposed to be funny but isn’t. Until he thinks about how the person who gave it to him thought he’d think it was funny. Then it becomes really funny, but in an ancillary sort of way.
Coupons. If you’re on a limited budget, you can always make tickets that promise your services at some point in the future. For example: “This ticket good for one ‘I turn into a bird before your very eyes and fly around the room.’ ” It’s just so sad when you have to tell your father that his coupon has expired.
You may now return to your regular thoughts of cancer.