Why Fathers Should Boycott Father’s Day

Father and daughter, New York Hospital, June 29, 1984.

We were standing around drinking beer on Friday evening at my brother’s member-guest fifteen years ago when one of the participants suddenly moaned, “Oh, [very bad word], I’ve got to go to my wife’s [extremely bad word] birthday party.” Nasty rub of the green, there. What are the odds of marrying someone who was born on the exact date of the steak-and-calcutta stag dinner? (My own wife’s birthday occurs in the fall somewhere. No problem!)

At my brother’s member-guest a couple of years later, I noticed that one of the regulars was missing. “His wife wouldn’t let him play,” someone explained, “because it’s Father’s Day.”

Let that one sink in for a moment.

I’d always hated Father’s Day without knowing why; suddenly, I knew why: Father’s Day has nothing to do with fathers. It’s just a passive-aggressive reprise of the day that inspired it; it’s Mother’s Day, Part Two. You would think, in theory, that Father’s Day would be the one Sunday of the year when a married man could get away with playing just as much golf and drinking just as much beer and smoking just as many cigars as he wanted to. But it doesn’t work that way.

“Oh, you can’t play golf in the morning,” your wife says, smiling cruelly, “because the children are going to make you a nice Father’s Day breakfast. And you can’t play at lunchtime, because the children want to give you the presents they made for you at school. And you can’t play in the afternoon, because your mother and I have planned a lovely Father’s Day dinner for you and your dad.” Which means, of course, that your father can’t play, either.

Appropriate Father’s Day activity, three sons and their father, 2011 Member-Guest.

Mother’s Day, paradoxically, has a higher Golfability Index than Father’s Day does, because your wife isn’t in charge of making the plans. You can buy her some jewelry, or you can make a dinner reservation for the two of you—say, at ten p.m., after the course has safely closed—or you can blow the whole thing off (she isn’t your mother, after all) and endure her scorn for a week or two. If your kids are determined to serve her breakfast in bed, you can put a box of cereal on the kitchen counter before you leave for the club.

The only solution to the problem of Father’s Day is to move it out of prime golf season. Will that require an act of Congress? I don’t know, but here’s what I propose: henceforth, Father’s Day shall fall on the first rainy or snowy Monday in November. Like Passover, it shall begin at sundown. And it shall be ignored, or celebrated over the telephone, if you happen to be in Myrtle Beach with your pals.

Father and daughter, St. John’s Episcopal Church, September 17, 2011.

4 thoughts on “Why Fathers Should Boycott Father’s Day

  1. I actually do enjoy your writing and have been following it here lately after reading your entry’s in the mag. But you keep refering to”the club”, what % of golfers are in “a club” . 25? Stop being so elitist.

  2. Steve, He isn’t being elitist. The fact is, if you are hopelessly, irrevocably addicted to golf, joining a golf club or course is the cheapest means to support your obsession. Consider for a moment that a bucket of balls costs ~$10-15, and a round of golf costs ~$40-60 (on the low end). As such, if you want to play practice 3-4 times a week and play on the weekends, it would cost you $110 a week. Contrast that with many golf clubs that have all inclusive (unlimited rounds and range balls) membership for $200-300 per month. As such, belonging to a golf club is much more fiscally responsible. Plus, you develop amazing camaraderie and friendship with other people at Golf clubs, which is much harder to develop via public golf.

    • “$10-15″ for a bucket of balls?! Where are you practicing? A bucket is $5-6. $40-60 is the “low end” only if you actually are willing to fork over $100+, which not many are.

      Most private clubs (if that’s what we’re talking about when using the term “club”) charge an initiation fee ($3,000 on the extreme low end) plus monthly dues ($300/month on the low end) plus food minimums. That’s $3,600/year in dues alone. Divide that $3,600 by 6 playable months (let’s assume March-Sept) and you’re paying $600/month (plus food min). In virtually all circumstances, joining a private club simply does not make sense from a purely financial reason. Sure, there are many other benefits (less crowded course, better course conditions, etc.) but saying it makes more sense financially is quite a stretch.

  3. Two things:

    David, you’ve got Father’s Day all wrong. The fact is that it is the one day that you can do what you want without wifely consequence. She just has to suck it up. What’s more, it is just huge that Father’s Day is a license to spend as much time as you want watching golf on what is often the greatest day of the TV golf year, which is of course the final round of the U.S. Open. Watch all the golf you want without consequence? No matter how nice a day it is? Check and check.

    Oh, and to the guy who thinks somehow that it’s unacceptable to join a golf club, you should go somewhere other than the world of golf for your political talk.

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