Weekend Wanderer: The Father’s Day Crunch

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I almost bought the $200 pants.

But that’s just because Father’s Day has always been a struggle. That struggle started with my dad, who is always perfectly content. He never wishes for anything. He never pines. He never longs.

Well, except that one Father’s Day. I asked what he wanted, and for the first time in my life, his face lit up. He became animated as he – an HVAC repairman – told me of a tool he could really use in his work.

It was $3,000. I was a poor grad student. He did not get the $3,000 HVAC tool that year. Nor any other year, because by the time I could afford a $3,000 HVAC tool, he was retired.

Grad school took a really long time.

My struggles have continued in the years since my husband has become a father. He, too, wants for nothing.

Well, nothing material anyway. Take his birthday. All he ever wants for his birthday is to hunt at his family cabin.

Alone.

Which I wasn’t even able to give him on the first birthday he spent as a father. Our daughter decided her dad’s birthday hunting weekend was the perfect time to make her entrance into the world.

At least it was an Eagles bye week.

Now, there’s no real hunting over Father’s Day, which means the cabin becomes a family trip. My husband usually wants to do something outdoorsy while we’re there – a hike, maybe some fishing.

I’m just going to tell you hiking and fishing in central Pennsylvania in June are awful activities. You have to kick logs to make sure there’s no rattlesnake lurking beneath. The ticks are roughly the size of pterodactyls. Encounters with other people are about as rare serial killers.

And the people you do run into probably are serial killers. Why would they be in the woods if they’re not burying a body?

But hey, if that’s what makes a man happy, you need to skip the neckties and desktop golf sets, you know?

Also, our son was born the Wednesday before Father’s Day. That’s right. I gave him one kid for his birthday and one for Father’s Day. Technically, I don’t need to give him another gift. Ever.

And that kid born on Father’s Day is pretty funny. Last week, he broke out in a funky rash all over his torso. While I frantically poured over my medical textbooks, certain he had cancer or meningitis or rabies, he calmly nicknamed his rash The Supermarket Gremlins.

I don’t know why. His humor is like his father’s. I learned the hard way you don’t peel back that layer. Just enjoy the ride.

I was hoping – as I do every year – to sidestep the whole let’s-get-outdoorsy landmine. But that funny kid born on Father’s Day cost us several thousand dollars last week.

Yes. Several thousand. As in, I could buy my dad two of those HVAC tools he wanted.

When the funny kid with The Supermarket Gremlin rash costs you two HVAC tools, the dad paying the bill gets whatever he wants for Father’s Day.

But our family schedule requires us to be home from the cabin long before we can get in that central Pennsylvania hike. I need an alternative.

That’s where the $200 pants came in.

I found them when an outdoors website I subscribe to sent me a Father’s Day gift guide.

I only subscribe to the website because the site’s founder is an excellent writer.

Although I guess I should also be subscribed because I’m married to an outdoorsman. But he’s not subscribed to the Star Trek wines website, so I don’t feel so bad.

I don’t know how to navigate the outdoors. But this guy does. So, when he sends me a Father’s Day gift guide, I pay attention.

I just don’t know if my husband needs those pants. I also don’t know his pant size. I could check his drawers, but he doesn’t keep his clothes organized the right way. I can’t look in his drawers without wanting to rearrange them.

So, I bypassed the pants. Also, I’m sure he’ll be happier if I rearrange his drawers in a more metaphorical sense and just leave his actual drawers alone.

I checked in with the Valley Forge visitors’ website. They seem to be of one mind with my husband – hikes, fishing, even dining outdoors for Father’s Day.

I was seesawing between the pants and Valley Forge when that funny, Father’s Day kid of ours approached me. He had a surprise in mind. Something small, but sweet and meaningful.

I agreed. We’ll go with the surprise.

But we’ll probably never forget the two HVAC tools that kid cost us.

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