It may not seem obvious from a quick glance at the list but this is
an action-packed agenda, providing plenty of opportunity for precarious
plot twists, drama, disaster, redemption and sudden, unexpected victory.
Dads, by their evolutionary nature, are mythic. Even when all
they really want to do is take a nap on the couch. They can't help
it even when they want to and we'll explain why as we go along.
We'll also delve
into the ever-popular phenomenon of 'where the fuck were you dads'
so familiar to many of us by non-experience with our own absent dads,
and address the embarrassing, yet intriguing, question of love between
the hairy progenitors known as fathers and their overmatched offspring.
We have our work cut out for us so strap on your seat belts, it's
going to be a bumpy ride.
Providing protection while instilling fear. This little puppy
is the whole reason why human dads exist in the first place. They
don't have to, you know. Lots of species make do without them.
You don't see little baby butterflies running around searching for
their long-lost dads. Not even when they are in the precursor caterpillar
stage. They munch, they make cocoons, they turn into butterflies.
What they do not do is speculate on the identity of their dads. From
their point of view, they got the requisite DNA donation from some
suitable male and that's pretty much the end of the story. A little
DNA will do it. No fuss, no muss, no whining. Try that with a human.
A human without
a dad will devote staggering psychic resources to trying to come to
terms with this bewildering and painful omission. Doesn't matter
that lots and lots and lots of humans have made it through life without
a dad, each little individual dadless human will still feel compelled
to brood extensively on this fascinating topic. Doesn't matter what
culture, doesn't matter what time period. Your classical Greeks, your
indigenous Aborigines, your Huns, your barbarians, your Americans,
your Mongol hordes, your billions and billions of Chinese, your Native
Americans, your Iraqis and even your French - deprive them of a dad
and they will brood. The human being pops into life expecting a dad
to show up at some suitable point, like soon after it's born, and
if one doesn't show up, it's not in a good mood about it. Why?
The answer of
course is survival. Survival is the answer to most questions,
including the most brooding-intensive ones, and here it is again,
shoving its way into your intimate family relations.
idea behind dads is that they confer a survival advantage. Evolution
thought to itself, when it was coming up with the human dad idea,
hey you know what, in the competition for scarce resources I bet it
would come in real handy for the helpless human infant to have someone
at its disposal that will beat off contenders and rivals for said
scarce resources and scare away those who would bash its little resource-greedy
infant brain in. Because, evolution thought to itself, you gotta admit
those human infants do greedily suck up a lot of resources without
contributing a great deal themselves, and when things are tight, it
would certainly make sense to bash their brains in unless they happen
to be carrying your genes. Hmmm
it pondered, this does not bode
well for the future of mankind unless we can prevail upon someone
whose genes they do carry to shoulder the load of scaring and beating
off hungry resource-rivals. Who can I get to do this job? Mom is certainly
a possibility but considering the strain she is under with that nursing
thing and the fact that many of those hungry rivals might be male
with certain strength advantages, maybe it would be sensible to enlist
a backup. And that's when it turned its conniving eyes on dad.
Yes, your proto-dad
was happily minding his own business, figuring that sperm contribution
was all he really needed to be interested in, when suddenly the
hot white light of evolution bore down upon him and forced him to
take an interest in the continuing survival of his offspring. Damn!
And things were going so well up to that point.
was no fool. There are plenty of species, such as lions, where your
non-dad males have no hesitation in offing little baby lions they
are not personally related to. In fact, that's pretty much all male
lions are good for. Killing the babies of male lions who are not them.
It makes sense for lions and it would make sense for humans too if
it weren't for dads.
of beating up other people who would harm your child is the one of
the primal imperatives of dadness, if not the primal imperative. When
a ten year old says 'my dad can beat up your dad' what he means by
this is: 'my dad can beat up your dad.' That's what it comes
You dads out there,
you have a very important job. And everyone knows this too. If, upon
the birth of your infant, you don't soon feel a surging, overwhelming
desire to rip the face off of anything, absolutely anything, that
would hurt your child, something has gone hormonally wrong inside
you. You are not operating on all dad burners.
The desire to
destroy is an important component of dadness. This is good news in
a way, since most of us harbor recurring, intermittent desires to
destroy something, and it is kind of nice to know there is a role
wherein this desire is perfectly appropriate. Of course, one of the
things you as a dad will need to attempt to destroy it your child,
which has a tendency to be incredibly alarming from time to time,
but hey, you gotta take the bad with the good.
other things, dads are indeed enemies of their children. And when
I say your dad was your enemy, I don't mean he fucked up your life,
although that is a bonus feature that comes with some dads. I mean,
an enemy, an adversary, opponent, one who makes various attempts,
for no sufficiently convincing reason, to cause you harm. An enemy.
If your dad never functioned as your enemy, he wasn't doing things
As we will see
in the next installment, in which we deal with, among other things,
the odd resemblance between your dad and getting a small pox vaccination.