Thursday, October 11, 2007

Father To Son

Let me be clear. I love my daughter, and I am amazed by her everyday. She and I go on weekend adventures. She helps me with complex tasks. There are many things that I look forward to teaching her and doing with her

This post, however, is not about her.

This post is about the other one. The boy

Having fully expected a second daughter, and therefore a houseful of women, I continue to be amazed that I have a son.

Big bright blue eyes (I still haven't ruled out Tom as the actual father) and a wide sly grin, the Boy is always happy. Even when he is crying, all I have to do is make eye-contact, and I get the big-eyed smile.

He seems to like me, which is good. I like him as well.

So, today, as I returned from a meeting at the courthouse, I walked back to the office in the company of an office mate, who also happens to be an openly gay black man. We discussed the meeting as we walked; I, dressed akin to Johnny Cash, while he was suited and dapper, as he always is.

For those Portlanders reading this, we were on Broadway, northbound, passing Nordstrom, when all of a sudden a woman crossed our path. Tall, maybe 5'10," long blond hair, trim, tan, with her business blouse open and fluttering in the breeze.
"So," said my friend, "what do you think about that?"

"Um, not my type really."

"Regardless," he pressed, "you weren't gawking at the display?"

I thought for a moment, scanning the instant replay in my mind. "No. I really wasn't."

He was perplexed. I mean, as guys, we like to look. It's a natural imperative. My gay friend likes to look, and generally, so do I. We just happen to like looking at different things.

"No," I said again. "I guess I generally don't gawk. My dad taught me at an early age to keep the gaze, in public, above the neckline. Or, at least, try to... Sometimes it catches you by surprise."

(This rule, of course, does not apply at nudy bars. Which is not a topic that was covered in my youth)


We both walked on, pondering the odd exchange. My mind wandered, though, away from the public display of cleavage, to the lessons learned from my dad. I began to wonder, now that I have a son, what will I teach him.

Here are some of the things I came up with.

1) Be vigilant with your Legos. The parts are small and the sets don't work unless you have all the pieces. This is good practice for life. I'm not sure what it is good life-practice for, though. All I know is, I'm anal about my Legos...

2) Clean your tools and put them away when you are finished using them. I learned this from my grandfather. He had a lot of well-cleaned and well-organized tools when he died.

3) Be generous. You may have talent. You may have brains. You may have good looks. However, all of that will amount to nothing if you can't be generous. If you want to have friends and meet girls, you have to be generous with your time, your money and your interest. If you can't be generous, at the very least, smile, and pretend that you care.

4) Know your drink. There are a lot of drink choices out there, and you should try most of them. However, once you've sampled your share, pick one, and be ready to order it. It is a sign of confidence. Whether you are in business lunch or on a date, knowing your drink and ordering it confidently, will give you a subtle subconscious edge. No one is impressed by a guy who waffles between which domestic light beer to order.

5) Do not spit in the wind. I dunno, this is a lesson that Daddy learned the hard way. maybe it's a lesson everyone has to learn for themselves.

6) Know the technical schematic of the human female. Simply stated, to avoid awkward humiliation, disappointment, frustration and resentment, take a few moments, in advance, to learn what all of the knobs, buttons and switches are, what they do and how to operate them. I'm willing to provide instructional reading material if necessary.

7) Know how to make a fire. Heat, fuel, oxygen. Our monkey-like ancestors figured it out. So should my son.

8) Know how to shoot a gun. More importantly, know how to be safe with one. Know how to hold it. Know how to store it. Know how to clean it. Really, though, learn how to shoot the damn thing. I want you to get them before they get you.

9) Know a joke, and how to tell it. You really only need one good one. Just don't fuck it up. Chicks dig funny guys. If you can't tell a joke, then at least know one good story. Preferably with a punchline.

10) Be good at Chess. You don't have to be Bobby Fischer. But you should be able to think ahead at least three moves, or more. This is true in all things. Chess is just a metaphor. Still though, be good at chess.

11) Likewise, be good at Poker. Don't just know how to play poker. Knowing how to play, but not knowing how to play well, is worse than not playing at all. Know the difference between a slow play and a bluff, know how to do both and when. Poker, like chess, is also a metaphor, but really a lot more fun.

12) Mind the three-dollar tip rule. When sitting at the rack, tip one dollar. This is the price you pay for your seat. The dancer doesn't really like you. She does not actually want to go home with you. She is taking her clothes off because it's her job. If you're sitting close enough to see her stubble, tip a buck.

If, within whatever confines exist in your jurisdiction, she provides some extra recognition or attention, tip a second dollar. This is true whether she hikes her leg over your shoulder, or simply wiggles her bits in your personal direction. That, my son, should cost you $2.

Then, if by some miracle, the DJ doesn't cut the song early, and she comes back for a third more-magnanimous gesture, that will cost you your third and final dollar for that song. No matter what else she can come up with from that point, you must stop at $3. Anything more implies that you want her to perform some act that would likely get her fired and you arrested. This creates a bad vibe for the whole table.

If you fold and stack your wad of ones into some towering magical dollar pagoda, then you are a chump and an ass.

13) Dress like a man. And by that I mean, know how men's clothes work, and don't be afraid to use them. First, the tie. Learn how to tie one. Don't worry, I will show you this one myself.

Second, If your shirt has buttons, iron it. Wrinkles are stupid. Cuff links are fun and can add character to your outfit. Also, always wear an undershirt. I don't care what Cary Grant did in that movie back in the 50s. No one wants to see your sweaty oily hairy flesh under your thin white cotton dress shirt.

Third, pants. Pleats and Cuffs are good. Always wear either a belt or braces. Never both. If you wear a belt, match it to your shoes. If you wear your pants in such a way that they hang half way down your ass, I will help you pull them up.

Shoes, tennis shoes are for tennis. When buying footwear, think leather.

14) Good and Evil. Know what it is to be good. Also, know what it is to be evil. Most of all, know when to be which.


  1. You are on a roll.

    I suck at chess.

  2. Strangely enough, I have been thinking about creating a new website for this very purpose, quoting the pearls I have gained through the years, knowledge from both you and Carl... want in?

  3. Maybe the girl just reminded you of your sister and you could have left it at that. Maybe hanging out with gay never know. Be careful what lego pieces that you decide to be anal about with your gay friends too. Could require stitches.

    If your son is looking for fashion advice you probably shouldn't show him a picture from your permed hair miami vice days. That could get ugly.

    Comment moderation is for pussys.

  4. Oosje8:58 AM

    Excellant advice. I'm most excited about the chess part! Of course you will teach him about proper Scottish attire and how to walk with his skirt on in those fancy shoes. Right?

  5. Inog: I am actually on a chair.

    Dave: I'm in.

    BS: You need help.

    Oosje: He might need chess lessons from you.

  6. Notice Dave didnt ask me to contribute...good call Dave.

    Also, if you are trying to teach him about good and evil dont bring up your profession ok. For that matter, mine either.

  7. Anonymous9:44 AM

    Ya missed a big one. I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you thought this lesson goes without saying. My husband teaches this to our boys almost daily: learn to be polite to a woman. Offer her your seat on a bus. Hold the door open (car or building) and the chair out. Let her order first. Offer to carry her bag (book or briefcase, never the purse). Hold the umbrella over her. When the aggressive street bum approaches, stand between them. Laugh at her jokes, compliment her shoes. Granted, there are some women out there that will resist these manners, maybe even rudely so. But for those who appreciate the gestures (and these are the women worth having) will get you very far indeed.

    Also, know how to wear a hat. No, not some lame ass baseball cap backwards on your head. A proper gentleman's hat. This is a subset of how to dress. Not only does it keep the rain off your head, but it conveys a sense of confidence and chicks dig a guy who dresses cool.

  8. Mrs. G&T10:14 AM

    All good lessons, our son is in good hands.

    At least 12 of your 14 lessons would apply equally to the Monkey. In fact, they will help scare away the boys not worth her time (like the ones who are threatened by a girl who can build a fire).

  9. 15) Put the toilet seat down. While it is no harder for women to check before they sit down than it is for you to do it, they get petty about it anyway and you can save yourself a lot of trouble if you just put it down.

    16) Give compliments often. It makes people feel good, it makes them like you, and looking for the positive makes you happier.

    17) Know how to cook a meal. It will teach you planning, timing and execution. It will get you fed. Women like it.

    18) Know how to do laundry and how to iron both men's and women's clothing.

    19) Know how a car works, how to change your oil, and how to pump gas (not usually an obvious one, but your boy is an Oregonian).

    20) Know how the stock market works.

    21) People are generally interesting and you can learn a lot from them. Be friendly with all kinds of people: dapper gay black men, smart asian girls, tattooed Christian bikers, and whoever pours your morning coffee.

    22) Church is a scam. All of them.

  10. Wow... I have to say -an impressive list.

    Normally, of course, I would mock. But all very valuable advice.

    Especially the three dollar rule...

  11. Anonymous3:55 PM

    23) Be nice to your sister. The time will come when she is 16 and has girlfriends round

    24) Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. Respect is earnt

    25) Always love your mom

    26) Playing basketball will make daddy proud

  12. Basketball? Not in that house.

    Pleats and cuffs are retarded. He might have bitch hips*. Don't allow him to accentuate them by wearing pleats. Flat front. And when dressing, fear not the mixing and matching of textures and patterns. Pink is sexy. Tonal ties are sexy. Matching a subtle lavender stripe in a windowpane patterned charcoal or navy blue suit is sexy.

    *I recognize that it is unlikely that your son will have bitch hips. I'm just saying, your love of the pleats consistently confounds me.

  13. Anonymous6:38 PM

    a. is right about the pleats. Great in the 80's and most of the 90's. Now, not so much. Same with the cuffs. I know, I can't find Dockers without pleats and cuffs. Well, that's sort of the point. You are an adult. You shouldn't be wearing Dockers or anything sharing Docker style.

    I'll grant you that your first pair of flat front pants will make you feel gay. Get a fitted shirt to go with it and you won't feel as much like a tented ass-hat.

    Comment moderation has been enabled? Wuss.

  14. See what happens when you ask for advice. Opinions are like assholes...well you know the rest.

    The most important advice you can give is "dont eat yellow snow"

    If you are looking for a song full of advice here are some lyrics from one of my favs by Jim Croce.

    You dont tug on Supermans cape
    You dont spit in the wind
    You dont pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger
    And you dont mess around with Jim

    Yeah, I need help

  15. I am going to look up your son in about 18 years, because I might want to marry him. I hope by then he is into pre-menopausal chicks.


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