to expound on the largely unrecognized
genius of Al Lewis --- to rhapsodize on
the legendary Cleaver family's monster
corollary, the hapless Munsters.
And now, unfortunate readers, your
favorite dad must make good that threat.
Oh, we won't nit-pick about which
was "better" --- Munsters or Addamses
--- Beatles or Stones
--- Netscape or MSN.
These are unresolvable issues;
each entrant having its own peculiar allure and cachet.
Who can forget, for example,
the passion of Gomez,
the fashion of Jagger,
the bashin' of Gates?
Gates is as much a rock star as Lennon and Lurch;
who in an unforgettable Addams
episode becomes a harpsichord-bangin'
teen idol by serendipity, rocketing
to the top of the pops everywhere in radioland.
But I digress.
Television viewing is one of the
burning issues facing us dads.
Much as we'd all love to crack a cold one
on the Bark-o-Lounger and regale
in all the delightful peaks and
valleys Jennifer Aniston's fidget frame
supports every week at 8:00 p.m.,
you just can't have your kids seein' that stuff.
"Surfing" in the way God meant for
dads everywhere (with a remote control
from a supine position on the
davenport, and certainly not with a web browser),
at any given prime time moment,
you blast past Allison boffin' Billy boffin' Amanda;
Jeff boffin' Cybill boffin' Ira;
or the Nanny Franny pushing innuendo
through her surgically altered nose
like a pile-o-penne pasta on a
peristaltic return trip through the old proboscis.
There is great solace, then, in the
old fashioned family values embraced
in the verdant acres of Pixley;
cocooned light years distant on-board the Jupiter II;
or, of course,
in Mockingbird Heights at 1313 Mockingbird Lane.
Set your way-back machine along with
me for a moment, however, and if the
truth be told (and when, dear dads,
have you ever been steered wrong at
this humble URL), the dads of the world
back then were as freaked and skittish
about their kids seeing Jeannie's bellybutton
as we all are when our own get a
gander at Pamela Anderson Lee's prodigious rack.
And what about the whole violence thing?
Now there's nuttin' more entertaining
than verité footage of hopped-up redneck
cops bustin' hillbilly head over an audio
bed of Jah ska, but when the show went to 8 p.m.,
we who adhere unwaveringly to the
super-secret Code of Dads were forced
with an ethical, if not technological dilemma:
either learn how to time-shift once and for all with that newfangled
blinky-LCD VCR, or beg the missus to do
math flash cards when the
badboys badboys do what they do when they come for you.
It was no different with the
Man from U.N.C.L.E. and the debonair
greaseball histrionics of Napoleon Solo.
Forbidden from watching the Bond-derivative
butt-kickin' every week on prime time,
I'd simply duck into a neighbor's house
where the absentee M & P left the
TV unmonitored (and as we learned to our
delight in our halcyon teenage years,
also left the liquor cabinet unlocked).
Did Ilya Kuryakin confer brutality
upon us boomer boys and budding pre-dads?
While we can point to the scholarly
work of UCLA's Seymour Feschback and
his highly contested theories
on the cathartic effects of TV
violence on slack-jawed sprouts,
the answer can be found in the exploits of a
little-known and short-lived superhero --- one,
in fact, known only to my little sib ---
a hero of rare terry-cloth powers known as
My brother, (we'll call him "my brother,")
faced the super wrath of
"Underwear Man" (hereafter, "U.M.")
for a brief period of little brotherly agony.
Spawned of mega-doses of Batman-ian run-ins with
Frank Gorshin and Burgess Meredith and Otto Preminger,
(and by the hygienic necessity of bath-time),
U.M. donned a bath-towel cape, and
clad only in Fruit-o-the-Looms,
would lay silently in wait
under furniture, behind doors and
around dark corners to give my unsuspecting
brother a sound thumpin' before bedtime.
Underwear Man even had a theme song, the
tune to which my brother not only recalls
nearly 30 years hence, but will quite
willingly perform to any public audience
on request as part of his century-long
commitment to tweak and deepen my guilt
and humiliation for the gotchee-clad alter ego.
Underwear Man was impervious to all adversity, 'natch.
You name it.
Bullets. Kryptonite. Probably Lex Luthor himself.
His fingers, however, were not impervious
to the crunching they took when little bro
smashed them in the bathroom door hinges,
where unbeknownst to him, U.M. was laying in wait.
After a brief trip to the emergency room,
and considerable soul-searching, I
changed my viewing habits, saying
goodbye (as we all did until "Pete and Pete")
to Adam West and switched to Patrick McGoohan
in "The Prisoner," which was far more cerebral fare.
When the stitches finally came out,
the super-man of the terry cloth
forever hung up his cape.
My long-suffering wife and I had
spoken at length about the whole zen
of Underwear Man and whether or
not his secret identity should be
revealed to the whole Web world.
We never really came to a conclusion.
Our conversation meandered to looting
the home improvement store during its Chapter 11 sale,
and buying-versus-renting a clarinet for
fifth-grade band, when she produced
a packet of new BVDs she'd just purchased.
"You got nuthin' to wear --- better
"try on a pair so I can take 'em back
"before I wash 'em," she deadpanned.
As the unsuspecting Lilly fed Herman's
crude doppelganger grapes on a second
honeymoon on Nick, I tried on the gotchees
and all of a sudden became strangely
overcome, falling into an hypnotic swoon.
I tried 'em on allright, but possessed
by powers beyond my limited ken, was
compelled to grab for a terry cloth towel.
I knotted it around my neck, and flab and all,
once again became my long-repressed alter-ego.
Underwear Man was back.
He took a very brief spin around
the family room in full view of
my unbelieving spouse and
spasmodically snickering brood.
"Play, PLAY, PLAY!!!"
doppelganger on the Sony.
And then, without so much as a word,
Underwear Man took to the air
and flew far, far into the night,
until he disappeared forever and ever more
on the midnight-blue horizon.