There are four possible apices in every man’s life:
- Hot Bachelor
- Hot Husband
- Hot Dad
Hot Cuddly Grandpa (because being a hot grandpa sounds creepy in a lecherous Woody Allen sort of way)
I knew from early on–intermediate school, when I was assigned to play the tuba instead of the drums–that I would never attain hot bachelor status. While not necessarily repugnant, I resigned myself to the arena of unrequited love filled with other members of the aesthetic middle class, and had to rely on other schemes in order to get a wahine to marry me. In the rare occasion that she will talk about it, my wife will say that one of the things that made me stand out amongst a crowd of otherwise richer and handsome-er-er suitors was my writing (emails, no blogging back then). And there have been times when my wife would point to me in mid-warble at karaoke and say to her friends, “this is why I married him!” (While not Josh Groban, I can sell it pretty well.) So in the end, not being the hot bachelor worked out.
Hot husband? While many women secretly fatten up their husbands so that they would be anathema to any succubus passing by, others want their husbands to be trophy hot, either to boost their self esteem or show the hand to their frenemies. (The rest? They love their husbands as they are!) While my wife was neither, she did make a lot of, ahem, “improvements” by changing my wardrobe and pushing me to get more fit. I never attained hot husband status as I was too lazy to put in enough work at the gym, but it was never a goal of mine.
Now hot dad? Double decka hecka yeah I want to be that. (You can be sure when I see the Beckhams on TV I’m checking out Becks, not Posh.) I remember a couple years back sitting on my fat okole in the Planet Hollywood mall eating an ice cream cone waiting for my wife when I saw this guy who looked like he was ripped off the cover of the Armani catalog with his ripped biceps, stylish clothes and 5 o’clock shadow…pushing a stroller. I remember thinking, “duuuude, that guy is hot, I want to be him.” And now that I really am a father? Still want it. Who wouldn’t? As fathers, we all desire to be heroes to our sons. (I’m not trying to be sexist and speak only of the father-son relationship, but I can’t write about daughters because I don’t have one…yet!) We want them to look up at us, admire us, respect us, and–whether we like to admit it or not–become just like us one day (or better than us, if you’re a tiger parent). This is why we help them with their homework, lecture them on the physics of shooting a basketball and everything else that being a father calls for.
The problem that is engendered with this panacea of parenthood is that in the effort to be the Batman to our little Robin, we cultivate an aura of infallibility, an impenetrable barrier of patriarchal hubris. You see, the issue with being on the cover of a fashion magazine is that there is no room for imperfection. Your hair must be impeccable. Your clothes immaculate. Your face sans wrinkles. Everything short of perfection is airbrushed away.
One of my pet peeves of the parent-child relationship is when parents are wrong but airbrush it away by saying, “it doesn’t matter whether I am wrong or not, I am your father, so whatever I say is right.” I would never use that kind of reasoning with my wife or anyone at work who takes orders from myself. So if we do not operate this way with other adults, why should we model this type of behavior to our children? The first lesson we teach our children about love is that we love them dearly despite imperfection, because that is the only way to love someone. And I think a good way to start that lesson is by acknowledging that we are imperfect ourselves. That way we can grow together instead of apart. That way he can confide in me because everywhere he is at, I have already been.
I want to be a hot dad. Who doesn’t? But hot in a way that means my son can use me not only as a role model for health, fitness and academics, but also as a role model who is humble, gracious and capable of recognizing and asking for forgiveness when he is wrong. I want him to know that it is okay to admit failure, because that is the only way you can come back and kick said failure in the okole the next time around. I want to be a hero to my son. But I want him to know that it’s okay for your heroes to bleed and that we will bleed together, as long as God grants me whatever blessed time we have together on this earth.