Hey, honey, it’s me, Dad.
Decades of Father’s Day gifts from you have proven that you know only one thing about me: that I identify as a male. You’ve given me literally eight ties, even though surely the only time you’ve seen me wear one was at Poppy’s funeral. I don’t remember what was embossed on the personalized tie clip you gave me one year, but it was probably something like DAD (MALE PARENT).
A gift certificate to a steakhouse? A box of cigars? A jerky gift basket? The cheese-of-the-month club? Seems like you know I’m a man but not that heart disease is the number one cause of death among men of all ages.
And no offense, but quite a few of your gifts have done nothing but remind me of labor I hate performing. One year you gave me a toolbox. Another year, a multitool, a.k.a. a more condensed toolbox. These gifts say, “Here, Dad, the toilet’s running, so you might want to check if the chain is getting caught under the flapper. Feel free to replace the sink’s rusting drain stopper while you’re in there. In fact, you can repair whatever you want—this is your special day!”
The polo shirts, the camouflage-print bathrobes, the grill accessory kits? Seems like you just googled “man stuff.”
But these “men apparently like beer”-themed gifts are better than the times you use Father’s Day to reflect, in writing, on our complicated relationship. You appreciate the sacrifices I’ve made and cherish the fun times we’ve spent together. You’ve come to terms with the deficient amount of affection our culture’s stifling notions of masculinity have allowed me to show you. But this Father’s Day, I want you to remember one important fact:
I don’t give a shit about any of that.
I’m done with dropping hints. No more telling you a story about a parking spot I found, in the hopes you’ll reciprocate. No more describing the great parking spot Gary’s daughter found last week, imagining your jealousy will motivate you.
I’m straight-up begging you to give me the only thing in this world that brings me joy: a story about how you found a really great parking spot.
As exposition, I suggest you mention that you didn’t even want to go into the city, since you knew traffic and parking would be horrible, and since the local news often depicts crimes committed in the city. Fear of the city, based on the knowledge that it is crowded and full of murderers, is a value I’ve spent a lifetime trying to instill in you.
You should build suspense. Maybe you were just on the verge of giving up and paying to park in a garage. Be sure to mention how expensive the parking garages in the city are, so I can assume you’re having financial problems and slip you a twenty on your way out.
We use narrative to make sense of our lives, sweetie, to give shape to the entropy of the human experience, to spark recognition of our individual emotions in a distant and distinct human subjectivity. I’m a man of a certain age, and I have needs. Specifically, I need stories about finding, against all odds, a great parking spot. Like right in front of the building.
Most importantly—and it doesn’t matter where or when or how often in your story it comes up—please, please, include the phrase “what with the price of gas these days.”