Father’s Day always gets a bit of the short shrift compared to the Granddaddy Of All Hallmark Holidays, Mother’s Day. It’s right there in the stats. I saw on the news this past Saturday that the average amount people spend to “honor” their dads on Father’s Day is about 113 bucks. Mother’s Day? Apparently, we are guilted into spending an average of $163 on our moms.
Hey, I love my mom. But I also love keeping the lights on, a full package of TV channels and feeding my kids something more than the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and bean and cheese burritos they seemingly can’t live without. I might spend $163 on her come Christmas time, but otherwise? Mom, I hope you don’t mind those $50 Nordstrom gift cards once in a while.
Mother’s Day also comes during May, when there is little else going on. Father’s Day occurs in June, just when kids are wrapping up school and people are making plans to go to Disneyland and other places for the summer. And this year, Father’s Day dropped just as the World Cup was getting underway. Not that we care that much soccer in the U.S., but overseas? You can forget about celebrating dad when a team like the Three Lions [England] or the Flying Dutchmen [Holland] are on the pitch.
For me, I don’t really need much to “celebrate” Father’s Day. This year, we took the weekend to go up to our shambling “weekend” place in Mariposa, Calif., which is about 45 minutes from Yosemite National Park. We can make the drive in three hours, door-to-door, if we don’t stop for anything. And with a 23-gallon tank on my quad-cab truck, we don’t have to make a pit stop for fuel on the 170-mile drive.
But, with two little kids in the backseat, you can barely get down the hill to the local coffee shop without having to stop for someone to go to the bathroom. By the time we stop for breakfast, visit our favorite fruit stand and, yes, get some gas because, well, why not, our three-hour drive has turned into a nearly five-hour long road crusade. And my wife wonders why I ride everyone like a Marine Corps drill sergeant at reville so that we can get in the road by 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
And we never get out the door by that time, anyway.
The Mariposa House is nothing fancy. Actually, it’s a mobile home with a peaked roof on it that belonged to the old folks who owned the place before us, and there are parts of it that are falling down. For example, it sprung another leak under the place that we discovered just as we were loading up to head home this past Sunday. This after I had spent part of the morning working on the kitchen sink in an effort to discover why we were getting hot water with the pressure of a firehose, but there was no cold water at all coming out if the tap.
Still, the house is a great place to use as a base camp, so to speak, for visiting the awesome sights of Yosemite. Or, it would have this time if, after finally getting there, I had not had to spend two-plus hours attacking the overgrown grass out back with a Weed Eater like I was clearing out some Viet Cong hiding places outside of Saigon in 1967. By the time I got done with that, and with a fresh sunburn across my face and neck [So much for the SPF 45 sunscreen], I was exhausted and not up for doing much at all.
Except for going out for barbecue for dinner.
This was all I asked for for Father’s Day. Nothing more, nothing less than a trip to Todd’s Smokehouse BBQ in nearby Oakhurst. And by “nearby”, I mean 15 miles away. But it’s hard to find good barbecue anywhere, and Todd’s is one of those places that has it and after all my driving and yard work, I was ready to throw my face into a massive plate of meat.
I went with the ribs and brisket combo with two sides and a bottle of Lagunitas IPA to wash it down. It didn’t disappoint. The rib meat fell off the bones and the brisket was so tender that it often slid off my fork before I could get any in my mouth. The sauce barely covered the ribs, which is just how I like it. Everything was so good that I did something I normally never do when a pile of barbecue meat is put in front of me: I didn’t finish it and saved the leftovers to take home.
Much to our surprise, our daughters behaved like normal human beings during the meal and we got them some ice cream as a reward. After we all had fully gorged ourselves, we went to the local hardware store for some advice on our kitchen sink, and while that didn’t result in a solution to our all-hot, no-cold water problem, I at least got to act like a Manly Dad while asking about hoses, couplings and other pieces of plumbing that I don’t understand.
Sunday brought about a trip to My Happiest Place On Earth, Denny’s, where I destroyed some chicken-fried steak and all the eggs, toast and hash browns that came along with it. From there, it was back to the house and another round of cutting down Charlie’s cover with the Weed Eater. By the time we got out the door, it was around 2 p.m. and after our obligatory stops at the fruit stand, gas station, and a 5 o’clock dinner at the Ripon, Calif. McDonald’s, we didn’t roll into home until after 7. Unloading the truck, bathing the girls and getting their stuff together for preschool and the start of swimming lessons was still ahead of us before we could call it a night.
But there was one more thing on our agenda, and that was my actual Father’s Day gift. I never asked for anything, and I wasn’t expecting something but, since my wife hasn’t earned the nickname The Thoroughly Awesome Ms. Crums for nothing, she had something waiting for me. Something that she said she couldn’t give to me until we got home because I needed to use the computer for part of it.
My head raced with thoughts of what this could be. Something online? I already have a Netflix streaming subscription and I knew she wasn’t getting me anything X-rated, so I was all out of ideas.
I sat down on the sofa and my wife handed me a small U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail box. I joked that the box alone was enough, but there was something inside of it. I opened the box up and…
It was a bottle opener. But not just any bottle opener, as the image here will tell you.
It was made from an actual bat used by the Seattle Mariners in one of their games. Why did I need the computer for this? Because the Official Major League Baseball hologram stuck on the thing had a code that, if I went online, would tell me who used that bat and when. We looked the thing up.
The bat was used in a 2009 game by the Mariners Jose Lopez Jr. I had to admit that I didn’t remember who Jose Lopez Jr. was, but it didn’t matter. He sacrificed his bat in the service of something greater, that being my ability to easily open bottles of cold India Pale Ale and other beverages.
My wife and kids definitely know me well. I am a diehard, long-suffering Seattle Mariners fan. I pay $25 a month to watch their games online via MLB.TV no matter how poorly they may be doing. And as the Mariners had just lost their fifth-straight game after just having gotten to five games above .500 for the first time since Jose Lopez Jr. took the field for them, I can guarantee I will be using this Father’s Day gift many times this season, and for many seasons to come.