A disservice before Dad's Day

Before we get into how former President Bush ruined Father's Day, let me tell you about an Internet ad I came across a few days ago.

"This Father's Day, give dad the thrill of a lifetime!" the ad said. "Let him experience ... parachuting!"


And there was a picture of some middle-aged schlub falling from the sky while grinning and giving a big thumb's-up to the camera.

As I stared at the ad, I could feel my feet begin to sweat.


Look, I know there are dads out there who thrive on adrenaline rushes.

I know there are dads whose lives lack meaning unless they're shooting Class 6 rapids or climbing El Capitan.

I know there are dads who brighten only when the phone rings and a voice on the other end says: "Look, we're skiing the south face of Anaconda next week. Are you in?"

But I am not one of those dads.

If my wife and kids ever gave me the gift of a parachute jump for Father's Day, I'd know they were sending me a message.

And the message would be this: We want you to die.

The message would be: We're tired of you and want to move on with our lives. And this gift greatly increases the odds of that happening.

Then a few days ago, I picked up the paper and there was a picture of President George H. W. Bush drifting out of the sky in a parachute.


And of course, my first thought was: Barbara Bush saw the ad!

I thought: Sure, Barbara was surfing the 'Net one night and came across the ad and thought: "Hmmm, George might like this. He's kind of crazy."

So she got out the credit card and bought the parachute package and gave it to him as an early Father's Day gift!

Well, it turned out I was wrong.

According to the story in the paper, President Bush made the jump to celebrate his 80th birthday, not Father's Day.

And it wasn't a solo jump, it was a tandem jump with an expert Army parachutist.


Still, think about it.

The man is 80 years old.

And this was his fifth jump.

And he jumped out of a plane at 13,000 feet and lived to tell about it.

On the other hand, I'm 52. And if you pushed me out of a plane at 13,000 feet - and this would require several large men built along the lines of Tony Siragusa - I would live for another three seconds.

Then I'd be dead of a massive coronary.


(By the way, I loved the quote from former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who, when asked why he declined an invitation to jump with Bush, said: "Afraid. Maybe on his 90th birthday. ... At my age, that may kill me."

(This struck me as the most sensible remark uttered about the entire occasion. It's a good thing we didn't go to war with that guy.)

Anyway, since reading about Bush's antics, I got to thinking about all the pressure on dads these days to stay active.

There was a time in this country when dads of a certain age were allowed to spend much of their down-time on the couch, listlessly reaching into bags of salty potato chips and watching golf on TV.

But apparently those days are over.

Now they're expected to have gym memberships and pump iron four times a week and acquire six-pack abs.


Now they're expected to swallow Viagra and Cialis and engage in marathon sessions of spirited, acrobatic sex.

Now they're expected to avail themselves of cosmetic surgery and hair plugs and teeth-whitening procedures in an effort to look perpetually young and virile.

Now, even on Father's Day, the pressure doesn't let up.

Because now, as we've seen, there are companies advertising: Give Dad the thrill of a lifetime on his day! Push him out of a plane!

And if you're a dad and receive a parachute jump as a gift and say something like: "Gee, I was kind of hoping for socks," your family will now react with shock and disappointment.

Now they'll say: "If you were a real man like President Bush, you'd appreciate a wonderful gift like this."


So, thanks, Mr. President.

Happy Father's Day to you, too.