He who wears the trousers

2008-06-12 00:00

Traditionally, Father’s Day is an occasion when men everywhere are presented with their tri- annual allocation of socks and underpants (Christmas and birthdays being the other two) along with a schmaltzy card imparting soppy platitudes like, “any fool can be a father, but it takes a special kind of man to be a dad”.

As sentimental as this may sound to some, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a man needs to relinquish his possession of the trousers in order to qualify as a good dad and thus add to his burgeoning sock collection. Granted, he may relinquish other things, such as the contents of his wallet, his last remaining strands of hair and occasionally even his sanity.

My own father has never been one for the huggy-kissy routine or dispensing syrupy endearments, but this hasn’t stopped him from being a dad in a million in a more practical, hands-on sense.

The older I get, helping to paint my bathroom or making a garden bench is more supportive than a mushy sentiment or a slobbery kiss — as heartless as it may sound. Anyway, in order for him to retain the ascendancy in a house full of women for over 20 years, extreme survival tactics needed to be employed as being fuzzy around the edges would not have aided his cause at all.

When my sisters and I were growing up our dad took on a sort of James Bond cum

MacGyver persona, whose versatile talents ranged from that of bicycle and go-cart mechanic, to swimming and athletics coach and skipper of our rubber dingy.

And that was just the first 10 years.

After that, his job description underwent some changes and as the years slipped by the need to diversify became apparent.

Assuming an adapt-or-die attitude, he then stepped in as a relationships counsellor, performed as a ballroom dancing partner (albeit a reluctant one) and made himself indispensable as a 24-hour taxi service.

Eventually, tired of waiting outside nightclubs and discos in his dressing gown and slippers, which to be honest dented his 007 image a little; he regained his tough guy status risking life and limb as our driving instructor.

But while being surrounded by adoring womenfolk may sound like Utopia to some, there were times over the years when his fortitude threatened to wane, putting his grip on the trousers in serious jeopardy.

At one stage the poor man resorted to growing a beard because the chance of him getting 10 minutes in front of the bathroom mirror was tantamount to being granted an audience with the Pope.

Of course, it wasn’t all frustration and aggravation because every Father’s Day he was more than compensated for his efforts with solicitous gifts conveying our devotion. After all, no good father should be without an assortment of gaudy ties, numerous saucy beer mugs featuring naked women and a T-shirt announcing that although he wears the pants, his wife chose them.

So this Father’s Day, in compensation for years of pain and suffering, instead of a customary Hallmark moment and a six- pack of Y-fronts, I’ve decided to treat my dad to something different and we will be celebrating in a way he likes best — with a hearty lunch, a glass of something bubbly and no mention of trousers.

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