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.
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.