Dear Old Dad

June 16, 1995|By DICK GEORGE

Father's Day is upon us, a good time to think about the important functions that today's fathers are supposed to perform, such as Mr. Fixit.

People seem to think that males who reproduce can also fix things. The fact is, these are two totally different skills. Not only that, but people who think Dads can fix anything often turn out to be children, who can break anything. My kids even thought I could fix the remote control, and Dads do not want to disappoint, so naturally I made a snap Dad-like decision: Let's open that sucker up.

The key to any fixit operation is to use the right tool, for which there are two criteria: The tool must be suited to the job, and much more important, it must be nearby, meaning within arm's length.

This is why I opened the remote control with a crab mallet, which does a great job with crab claws. How tough could a remote control be? As it turns out, tougher than a cement pinata. We can be grateful that crabs are not made of impact-resistant, space-age polymer plastics, or you'd have to open them with an 8-pound maul, which is what I would have applied to the remote control except it did not fulfill the all-important requirement number two in the ''right tool'' list described above.

Eventually we prevailed by applying a principle that's been handed down from father to son for untold generations, which is, if things aren't going well, apply more force. This is how I learned that plastic splinters are hard to remove.

By this time the children had come to realize that it is possible to change channels by touching something on the TV itself, much as we did it in the ''olden days'' when we were kids ourselves, living in caves and chewing roots as we sat around in animal skins trying to find something to watch on our prehistoric black-and-white TVs. Good thing they figured out this ancient channel-changing technique, because by then Mr. Remote Control was visiting Mr. Hefty Bag, and never coming back.

Another featured role for today's Dad is Answer Man. How does a remote control work?

Well, the air is filled with three invisible particles. You got your positive ion, your negative ion, and your Janis Ion. No, just kidding. The third ion is actually your channel-changer ion. When you press a button on the remote, an invisible cattle prod goes out and herds those channel changer ions over to the TV like an electionic Lassie, where they jump up and down on the controls. Any more questions?

Today's Dad also performs the role of Yard Guy, working himself to exhaustion cutting, trimming, planting and pruning out in the hot cruel sun and unhealthy fresh air, when he should be on the sofa dozing in front of a televised sporting event, with one hand on the remote and the other partially submerged in the onion dip, mouth half-open, emitting the sound of a chain saw working on oak. This is the Dad-hood we all aspire to.

What should you buy your own Mr. Fixit, your own Yard Guy on his very special day? It doesn't matter as long as it's rechargeable. No Dad is truly happy until every plug in the house is recharging something. It hurts deeply to see an empty plug going to waste when it could be preparing a Dustbuster to never be used.

Dads, enjoy your special day and try not to maintain anything.

0$ Dick George writes from Baldwin.

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