It’s Father’s Day—where’s the remote?

By Mike Murphy

I always find it interesting how the store ads differ between the build up to Mother’s Day vs. Father’s Day.  For Mother’s Day the stores push products that, of all things, are aimed at making mothers more attractive to fathers!  Such things as cosmetics, perfume, hair products, fetching apparel, beauty salon certificates, etc.  I thought the whole idea was to give Mom a day off.  Isn’t that approach simply making mothers work even harder than they already do?

Or, to take that concept a step further, for mothers the stores run ads featuring stoves, washers and dryers, and vacuums.  Gee, I wonder who’s going to get the privilege of enjoying such gifts!  Of course , a fancy washer is sure better than sending Mom down to the river with a shiny new rock to beat the babies’ diapers clean with, but something still seems slightly screwy about this whole picture.

Then there are the Father’s Day ads published over the last few weeks which attempt to create the illusion of the hard-working family man.  Ads loaded with gas grills, power washers, lawn mowers, etc. which, quite honestly, makes me laugh since, when I look around, I see women using these items at least as much as men!

It’s probably a more realistic portrayal of the modern American Dad when the stores feature fishing gear, duck decoys, golf clubs, and big-screen televisions to purchase for his special day.  It’s even feasible that wives pitch in to help the kids buy Dad these items so that he will use them and stay the heck out of the way so the rest of the family can get some work done around the house!

That’s actually the way it pretty much works worldwide if you study various cultures.  Take the early Native American tribal culture for instance.  Females gathered firewood, tanned hides, cooked food, raised kids, etc. while Dad went hunting, beat on drums, and then took a break to smoke his pipe.  Boy, things certainly haven’t changed much in this country, have they?

A contemporary example of a gap in family gender labor roles would be Saudi Arabia.  Once again, mothers pretty much carry the workload on their backs although it’s hard to see them doing it since they are forced by men to wear recycled nuns’ habits.  Meanwhile the fathers sit around comparing camels, smoking hookahs, and fantasizing that they rule the roost

Furthermore, I’ve never been able to figure out why women waste so much time, money, and energy on fancy hairdos, makeup artistry, and sexy attire.   I’m pretty darn sure that Eve and her leaves had no problem luring Adam into a relationship despite stiff competition from such manly enticements as abundant hunting prey, ravenous fish, and an entire private orchard of trees to take naps under.

If I were a female, I would gather all of my universal sisters together via the Internet to sign a pact swearing that none of us would ever again take steps to make ourselves more attractive to men or else face punishment of being immediately “unfriended” by 3 billion females, a fate worse than death for most women.

It seems to me that such an attitude is only fair when one considers how little trouble men go to so they can attract the opposite sex. Young guys today think they’re over dressed if they wear their ball caps with the bill pointing forward.

But it’s not all guys’ fault.  Whereas Mother’s Day clothing ads display beautiful fashions that allow Mom to transform into Cleopatra, Father’s Day clothing gift choices, such as steel-toed boots, hard hats, and utility belts, are so dull as to result in his appearing as The Village People.

There are other obvious commercial discrepancies.  Stores display a variety of hair shampoos, blow dryers, and leg razors for moms only to be later replaced with deodorant, Rogaine, and nose and ear hair trimmers for dads.

Restaurants offer elaborate brunches including prime rib, Champaign and chocolate-dipped strawberries for Mom’s Day while pizza-delivery coupons and sales on 2-liter soda pop dominate Dad’s Day ads.

Mother’s Day observers are enticed to attend a symphony concert of romantic classics while, for their special day, fathers receive a discount to an Elvis impersonator show.

I guess the people that I feel the most sorry for this time of year are the kids adopted by a man and his male life partner. Just how in the heck is little Johnny suppose to know which one gets the chainsaw and which one the fresh fig bubble bath?

Mike Murphy of Pocatello retired after a 35-year teaching and coaching career.  He has a master’s degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is an Associated Press award-winning columnist.