- Ward Cleaver's Prozac Fever

knife & sharp stick

Are you here again lookin'

for your favorite dad to learn y'all

how to untangle the mysteries of

tying a half-hitch?

Are you back looking for dadly hints

on streamlining the boy's gutter

regatta racer so he can ka- RUSH his

fellow Cubbies at the Scout meet,

or glean some cryptic Tim the Toolman

tips on constructing the perfect

Cubmobile with nothing more than

a 2' x 4',

a claw hammer

and a magnum of Boone's Farm Apple?

Come ON, already, willya??

I am continually befuddled by

the hundreds of thousands of e-mail

messages sent to your dear old dad

every day from the clueless and

the lame among us expecting that

when they sample "dads-dot-com,"

that they will somehow walk away

with an enlightened paternal glow ---

that unto them will be delivered

mystic and wondrous wisdoms and

little-known truisms improving

the sad, sad state of their

impoverished dadly skills.

Those of you who have become regulars

to this God-forsaken column most certainly know better.

But just this once ---

and I do mean ONLY today ---

just because I am loathe to turn

away any reader unfortunate enough

to have stumbled upon this l'il ol' URL

out here on the Wild Wild Web,

I will let you in on a

secret dadly game

I've personally developed

that is GUARANTEED to turn the most

insipid qual-time exercise into that true,

shining and halo-conferring bonding

drek that so many of us today seek

expensive counseling to achieve.

This might be an appropriate time for

you to fetch a pencil and paper

as you will undoubtedly want to jot

down notes for your own future reference.

Of course, I cannot give you any tacit

guarantees, dear readers, and if you're

of a litigious nature, I shall

retain a skulk of sleazebag attorneys

(many of them my personal friends and colleagues),

who will proclaim to the ends of

the earth that your favorite dad was

in an entirely unacceptable and socially

inappropriate cognitive state during the

creation of this super-secret cyber place.

That aside, as you well know,

my personal finances dictate I

re-use lunchbags and

wear a snappy cardboard belt.

What I CAN guarantee,

my dear, dear readers,

is a rare and fleeting glimpse

behind the scenes --- into the

very bowels of dadsville itself.

So come on!

Let's Go!


And let's bond, shall we?


Your wife has left you high and dry,

seeking the transient solace of a

Moccachino Blasty

(and perhaps a covert shooter o' schnapps),

in the coffee klatsch geese-gaggle

we call "Electric Ladyland."

The children, as you might expect, are

bored, bored, bored.

You, the diddly dad, are their

only remaining avenue to

fun, fun, fun!

Yet, another frazzy day at work

has again all but destroyed your

very being, and you are more accustomed

to an after-dinner snoozer than

fully-blown quality time noodlings

with the little kiddles.

What, in the name of God, does one do?

Games like "Knife and Sharp Stick"

seem wholly inappropriate.

I bid my long-suffering wife

adieu vowing that we'd all play

"Knife and Sharp" in her absence,

hoping to rattle her cage on her

way to her Moccachino Moment.

But no.

"That'll be real nice,"

she says with an L. Ron Hubbard glow,

torquing down the street

at a speedometer reading

that would make Chuck Yeager himself

drop to the very earth in a puling fetal position,

whinnying for mercy from our Lord and Savior.

With the lingering acrid smell

of incinerated AquaTreads still

wafting about our charming cul-de-sac,

it was time to show the kiddies

that their old dad could be

one heck-of-a-rollicking fun guy.

Go on, kids!

Go one and pick a game or sumptin' ---

ANY game! GO ON!!!

Not realizing what in the Sam Hill

I was really saying, my daughter

immediately produces two of her

neighborhood girlfriends,

and a game called

"Pretty Pretty Princess."

Without a doubt, this was it.

I had reached low ebb in my

tragic suburban life.

In this particularly loathsome game,

hopeful players spin your standard

gameboard spinner dial, and are

instructed to festively accessorize

themselves with colorful

pieces of polymer jewelry ---

now clip-on earings, here a bracelet,

there a matching necklace or cocktail ring

(all very color coordinated by Milton

Bradley's finest jewel designers),

until you spin for the game's grail ---

the regally elusive and bejeweled

Pretty Pretty Princess crown.

Ah, dear dads, it is not as easy

to become the Pretty Pretty Princess

as it might sound; one must have

exhibited the cunning and wile to

have accumulated the entire ensemble;

earrings, braclet, necklace, ring

AND crown to bask in the

serene and majestic glow of

supreme regal monarch.

Oh, Empress of the Sun!

Oh, Czarina of all Russias!

Oh, Pretty Pretty Princess!

To my eternal dismay, amidst the

girly gaggle's giggling,

I flicked the hateful spinner

and swept by the Fates into

my hapless destiny, was suddenly, woefully

crowned Pretty Pretty Princess.

The event in itself was,

at least initially,

internally manageable amidst

only the chirping giggle cherubs,

but when my son leapt from behind

the living room door, with a

Kodak One-Step blazing,

I knew I would rue both the day

and my sudden soverign reign.

Despite a number of installment-type

"protection" payments remitted to my scheming son,

(who, I am told, blew the hush money

on a fine rococo dacha in the

rolling hills of Georgia, not far from Tbilisi),

in short order the photos of my

cringing countenance, bespangled

in the Pretty Pretty dingle dangles,

had somehow fallen into the hands of

my evil sib, who immediately turned

them over to the broadcast media

with a pleading fact sheet explaining I had

"...wandered off from a psychiatric care facility,"

and that while I was

"practically harmless,"

my "delusional nature might well become amplified

the longer he is away from his

regular dose of psychotropics."

While I was the lead item on the early news,

a couple of well-placed calls to

area assignment desks cleared

the matter right up, and at 11:00 that night,

the news returned to top stories spun

from the usual socially provocative

themes portrayed in network made-for-TV movies.

All was right with the world again.

When the smoke had sufficiently cleared,

it was time for a dose of dadly revenge.

"...we'll play a NEW game now,"

I averred, removing the regal

acoutrements and carefully replacing

them in their regal Milton Bradley box.

"What, WHAT??!"

yipped the wide-eyed brood, my

snaky son now including himself.

"Why, it's a new game I've invented myself!"

There followed some group clapping and

the stray "yippee" along with an array

of impromptu adrenalin-laced gymnastics.

"What is it? What is it??"

"Why, children, it's a new game I call



How do you play THAT??"

"Why, it's a snap!

Your old dad lays down on his

favorite Bark-o-Lounger

and starts counting..."


"...then you guys go and find

your bestest and most super-secretest

hiding place..."


"...then I go to sleep in the chair."


and they gleefully scampered off

to the four corners of the earth,

or at least to their usual

hiding places in the shower

and under their beds.

By the time I'd counted up around 39,

I had drifted off into the blissful Land O' Nod ---

where I dreamed the same dream

I had dreamed since I was their age ---

since I could remember anything at all.

He had a stovepipe like the Mad Hatter

and he said his name was "Mr. Yellow Pages,"

and with grand cartoon flourish he

again beckoned me into

the alphabet letters on the wallpaper.

And once there I would

never ever grow up or grow old.

The kids, grown impatient and weary

after hiding for a number of millennia,

emerged from their secret

places fully grown, having

forgotten completely about their old dad ---

who was nowhere to be found, but

everywhere in that living room,

moving about the space,

whispering his name,

so they would not forget ---

so they would never forget ---

now softer and softer

until the voice was forever gone.

The wind, they thought.

And there,

far away in the Alphabet Wall,

my training wheels,


were off the bike

and someone so kind,

someone who loved me unconditionally

and eternally without pause or question,

someone I never ever knew,

gave a push and let me go ---

and now five years old,

I pedaled with all of my life

until balance blessed me,

and I rode, on and on and on

to the very place where time ended,

and then I rode some more.

At last,

I was free.

Last "dads"
Past "dads"

2003 Arhythmiacs

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