dadsville   - Ward Cleaver's Prozac Fever

the super-secret adventures of underwear man

I have threatened, my faithful dads,

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

"Underwear Man."

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.

Until today.

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!!!" shouted Herman's 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.

Last "dads"
Past "dads"

©2003 Arhythmiacs
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You never talk to your old dad!