Perusing the greeting card section for a Father’s Day message the other day in Publix, I found myself looking at Corporate Card-Making America’s definitions of what dads are.
King of the grill. Steady with his putter, driven with his driver. Oh yes, and he wields a mighty plumber’s friend; man-handles the TV remote; and is into anything camo.
I picked up one card after another, trying my best to put them back where they belonged. But I did not find one that suited me or the dad in question. Frustrated, I harked back to the day not long ago, just few aisles over, when the notion of father was, well, let me tell you the story.
I had taken a left hand turn with my buggy into the aches-and-pains aisle which was empty save a guy who seemed somewhat agitated. He was wearing a red ball cap, a yellow T shirt, running shorts and shoes. From the look on his face, it was a good bet that any exercise he had taken prior to this particular exercise was far less taxing.
He stood before a certain section of the aisle. He had a white piece of paper in his right hand; his feet were planted on the floor. He leaned in to get a look at the shelf contents, but his body language belied a feeling that perhaps he felt the items he was surveying were radioactive or stocked with a surprise snake.
In other words, he kept his distance.
Instinctively, my eyes tracked to the shelf that seemed to be causing this guy so much consternation.
Feminine hygiene products. All kinds of items in lavender, white and pink packaging. Uh oh.
“Excuse me,” the guy said, clearly desperate enough to involve another person in his endeavor.
“Can you help me?”
“Sure,” I joked, “but you’re not going to ask me to help you find tampons, are you?”
“Actually,” he said, experiencing a kind of relief that made his shoulders sag, “I am.”
“Really?” I thought to myself. After all, it goes without saying – but I’ll say it anyway – that only women and mothers buy feminine hygiene products. Women know exactly what they need and they do not dally when making their selection. Mothers know exactly what their adolescent daughters, who are still too embarrassed to make the purchase themselves, need.
So here’s this guy who finds himself in no man’s land, for sure.
“OK,” I said, “what do you need?”
“Well, I’m looking for junior tampons. My wife wrote ‘junior tampons’ on the grocery list and I
don’t see any. I mean, I’ve looked, but I just don’t see any.”
Junior tampons. That could mean only one thing, I surmised. A daughter’s involved. My mother’s heart melted.
“OK,” I said, “let me take a look.”
I found an appropriate product.
“Here,” I said, “this should take care of it.”
“Thank you so much,” the guy said. “I really, really appreciate it.”
He turned his buggy away and headed up the aisle.
Now there goes a dad who deserves a medal, I thought.
Not a six-piece set of grilling tools. A spiffy putter or shining driver. Nope, not even a camo hat.
On this Father’s Day, I hope the guy in the red ball cap gets a good, long hug from a daughter whose daddy who will do whatever it takes to look after his little girl.
Know of a story that needs telling? Email email@example.com. McInerney is a writer whose novel, “Journey Proud,” is based upon growing up in Columbia in the early 60s.