A little decadence for deserving dads on Father's Day

HAPPY EATER

June 09, 1993|By ROB KASPER

When dads get asked what they want for Father's Day, many of us say "Don't get anything for me."

This is a lie. Dads want gifts. But we don't want that self-improvement stuff, like herbal breads that cure baldness. In recent years, such self-improvement ploys have been passed off as ideal presents for us.

On Father's Day, June 20th, we don't want to think about improvement. Instead, we want to wallow in what we are. So when thinking of gifts for dad, think of his "bad habits" and buy items that support them.

Do not mention the "C" words -- calories, cholesterol and (heart) congestion. Do not give him books that warn against them; do not give him an exercise video showing how to reduce them. Reduce is a dirty word on Father's Day.

Instead, bake the guy a pie. Or give him a bottle of his favorite liquid, which is probably not bottled water.

Diminished is also a bad word to use on Father's Day. As in the "diminished role of men in society today," or "the diminished checking account," or "the diminished chances that men will outlive women."

Dads know all this stuff and don't want to hear it. At least not on Father's Day.

On Father's Day most dads want to feel primal, like we are at the top of the food chain. On Father's Day the hunk myth matters. We hunger for a hunk of meat, a hunk of fish or even a hunk of watermelon.

So much for general philosophy -- now for a few specifics.

Two guys in Chicago, Todd Holmes and Louis Amoros, have set up a club that ships beers made in American microbreweries to members. Modeled after the clubs that send books or fruit every month, this club, called Beer Across America, sends members a monthly shipment of two six-packs. The beer is chosen from 150 microbreweries around the nation.

The idea is to ship beers not usually found in a neighborhood beer depot. For example, the beers for June are Pike Place Ale from Seattle and Wheat Beer from Bohannon Brewing Company in Nashville. The cost is $15 a month, plus shipping and handling, which would add about another $5 for beer sent to Baltimore, according to the club's Stephanie Perlmutter.

There is a two-month minimum purchase. Ms. Perlmutter added that calls on the club's toll-free line -- (800) 854-BEER -- received by June 14 will receive a certificate of membership before Father's Day. The beer, she promised, would follow a few days later.

The club, which began in January 1992, now has 15,000 members sampling lagers and ales made in 26 states, she said.

Buying beer for Father's Day may paint a picture of dads as Homer Simpson stereotypes. But whether we admit it or not, there is some Homer in all of us.

If for some reason beer is an inappropriate gift, consider barbecue.

Most guys who fool around with the backyard grill could use a few barbecue tools. Not clothing. Tools.

I know those fashionable aprons with "Dad of the Year" emblazoned on the front look eye-catching. But if you give one to most dads, chances are, the only thing he will use it for is a drop cloth.

Insulated mitts, by the way, are not considered clothing. They are tools that a guy uses to perform daring deeds like lifting the hot grill away from the flames, thereby saving supper. Another good thing about giving dad an insulated mitt is that other family members can use it. But only when dad isn't looking.

A standard dad gift is the grill brush. It is supposed to be used to clean the grill. Some dads, who are challenged by any kind of cleaning, will need a demonstration on how to operate this tool.

The most functional barbecue tool is a set of tongs. A good set of tongs can flip almost anything you put on the grill, from steaks to slices of eggplant.

When buying a set for dad, don't forget to test the tongs. Holding them in one hand, try to close the tongs. They should not flap. They should put up a little struggle, a sign that once they grab onto something, they won't let go. No dad wants wimpy tongs.

As for myself, I am hoping to get a thermometer for the backyard cooker I got as a present last Father's Day. There was a thermometer that fit in the lid and regularly reported how hot the fire was. But the other night, when the pork roast went ballistic, it took the old thermometer with it.

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