Sawing through Father's Day impasse

June 17, 1999|By Kevin Cowherd

BEFORE I let you women in on the perfect Father's Day gift for the man in your life, let me say that I'm a guy who's been around, OK?

Look, on various assignments for this newspaper, I have:

Driven a $250,000 Lamborghini Diablo VT, the fastest street-legal car in North America, and got that baby up to 80 mph in second gear on Liberty Road, then took it to the drive-in window at McDonald's and ordered a small coffee.

Hefted a 33-ounce Louisville Slugger and tried to go deep at Camden Yards -- without the benefit of steroids, too -- in the midst of Mark McGwire's assault on the single-season home run record.

Sang (if you can call it that) with the great Jr. Cline and the Recliners, a rock 'n' roll band so sweet that only an epidural would keep your feet from tapping when they're on stage.

Played a public golf course in Harford County that charges $126 per round and calmly pulled out the company credit card and told the guy behind the register in the pro shop: "Put a little something on there for yourself, chief."

Spent a rainy afternoon in the soft, carpeted elegance of a La-Z-Boy furniture showroom in Glen Burnie, where they let me "test drive" their top-selling recliners, including the Big Dog, the Taj Mahal of recliners, the Maxim -- $1,040 worth of faux leather, cup-holders, headphone jacks and heat-massaging luxury.

Attended Beer Camp, sampled the better part of 1,000 brews from around the world, and made it back to my hotel room in one piece each night.

So you're not dealing with some guy who just fell off a turnip truck here. I think I know a thing or two about what guys like.

So when I tell you I have the perfect Father's Day gift for dad, you can pretty much take it to the bank. OK, the tension is killing you, right? You want to know what this perfect gift is, and you want to know now.

Fine, here goes: It's a chain saw.

No, no, hear me out.

Fact: I have never, ever met a man who didn't like to fire up a chain saw and chop something up.

There is something about yanking that cord and hearing a chain saw roar to life -- THWOOOCKKKKK! -- that does something to a man.

The first time I ever used a chain saw, it was to clear a huge tree limb that had broken off in a storm and crashed onto my back lawn.

I had so much fun chopping up that limb that when it was gone, I started defoliating everything else in the back yard. Pretty soon it looked as if the whole place had been napalmed.

Then, when I ran out of vegetation to chop down, I almost started in on my tool shed.

Now, I can hear you women out there already.

You're saying: Geez, a chain saw? Couldn't I buy him something a little less, um, adventurous? Like, I don't know, a Weedwhacker or something?

Well, sure, you could do that.

But why would you want to? When you care enough to give the very best, only an 18-inch, gas-powered land-clearer with a state-of-the-art anti-vibration system and 42cc engine will do.

Besides, a Weedwhacker is to a chain saw what Jewel is to the Rolling Stones, OK? Excitement-wise, they're not in the same league.

OK, let's get down to the nitty-gritty here.

Let's say I've convinced you that dad would appreciate a chain saw more than another Greek fisherman's cap or that cheap Bailey's Irish Creme knockoff you always give him.

Now: What kind of chain saw should you buy?

Well, Sears Craftsman puts out some nice models. So does McCulloch. Poulan puts out a garish-looking purple and yellow 18-inch chain saw called "The Wild Thing." (To me, though, it looks a little too much like something the psycho killer in a B movie fires up as soon as the comely coed steps into the shower, if you catch my drift.)

For my money, the best chain saws on the market are made by Stiehl, a German company.

This grizzled old coot who used to work at a local hardware store once told me the Germans really know how to make chain saws.

His theory was that there probably wasn't a whole lot to do in some of the rural towns where the factories were located, except make chain saws during the day and get drunk and eat Wiener schnitzel at night.

So this Father's Day, don't give dad the same old same old.

Don't have him unwrapping another ceramic "World's Greatest Dad!" coffee mug or another stupid barbecue apron that says: "Grill 'Em All And Let God Sort 'Em Out!"

This year, give him the gift that men like Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett would have killed for back in their day: a quality chain saw.

And remember: A quart of 2-cycle engine oil and a nice bottle of bar and chain lubricant goes a long way toward saying: "I love you, Dad!" too.

Pub Date: 6/17/99

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