When I was in grade school, I always gave my father a necktie, or a picture of a man wearing a necktie, or some construction paper cut into the shape of a necktie, for Father’s Day. It didn’t matter that I only occasionally saw my father wear one. Father’s Day wasn’t about my actual relationship with my actual dad (if it were, I would have given him a bag of Funyuns or drawn a picture of a racecar); it was about paying homage to a cultural myth of paternal masculinity.
Sunday was my first time being on the receiving end of Father’s Day wishes, and as my son is only 10 weeks old, it will be a few more years before the experience includes some totemic representation of a necktie. Instead, on my inaugural Father’s Day, my wife stopped by work unexpectedly with a gift: “deluxe fries” from a neighborhood pizza place. The dish is essentially a fully dressed Philly cheesesteak (sans bread) on top of gravy fries. It’s the kind of thing one shouldn’t eat without a lifeguard present and probably no more than once a year.
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