When the dog wants to wish Dad a happy day

John Kelly
Columnist June 12, 2012

Sunday is Father’s Day, and if you’re like most sons, you are uncomfortable trying to express your true feelings toward your dad. Luckily, there’s Hallmark.

Their cards fall into two main categories. There are the serious ones — it’s the rather smaller category, meant to bring a tear to the eye — and there are the funny ones. For some reason, the funny ones usually involve jokes about flatulence or crotch-scratching, as if that’s what being a father is all about.

John Kelly writes "John Kelly's Washington," a daily look at Washington's less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section. View Archive

None of the cards get to what seems to be the heart of the matter. I mean, the most honest card would read: “It’s your special day; there can be no other./I’m glad at least once you had sex with my mother.”

That isn’t to say that Hallmark doesn’t push the envelope, both figuratively and literally. When I was at CVS, I saw Father’s Day cards for your dog. Not for you to give to your dog, but for the dog to give to the man of the house. There are cat cards, too.

Another innovation: Father’s Day cards that you’re meant to give to your son. They’re along the lines of: You’re such a good father and though we are not your child — in fact, we’re your parents — we must acknowledge that quality. They also have Father’s Day cards to give to your brother.

Hallmark is brilliant. They don’t let a little thing like our traditional notion of Father’s Day — that it’s a day for [human] children to give cards to their [human] paternal units — stand in the way of sales. They know that they can add millions in revenue to their bottom line if they can just expand the boundaries of Father’s Day. Thus I expect to see special Father’s Day cards for another niche market: “Dad wasn’t always there for me — to play catch, to show me how to shave and scratch my crotch — but you were. Happy Father’s Day, Mom.”

Singing with the angels

The members of After the Storm, an a cappella group that could often be found singing in the Metro, had a tough time performing last week. Founding member Tyrone Cloud had died and his singing mates were at his funeral, June 4, at Alexandria’s Shiloh Baptist Church.

“They broke down,” said Tyrone’s sister, Elouise Kelly. But then they imagined Tyrone whipping them into shape — he was always the disciplinarian of the group — and they launched into a mournful “Oh, Mary, Don’t You Weep.”

Elouise said: “It was a beautiful homegoing.”

Tyrone died of kidney failure. He was 55. He’d sung practically his entire life, first with a group called Alex and then with After the Storm.

I wrote about the group in 2010. Tyrone confided to me that After the Storm had been invited to go to Los Angeles to appear on NBC’s “The Sing Off,” but he later said the producers rescinded the offer. Tyrone figured they thought the members of the group were too old.

Tyrone began feeling poorly about two years ago and was in and out of the hospital, but whenever he felt up to it, he’d put on his fedora and meet the other members of the group — Jamie Lewis, Henry Miller and Reggie Washington — on the Metro somewhere. They’d put out a bucket and sing oldies: “In the Still of the Night,” Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” etc.

“Whenever he felt better he went out to sing,” Elouise said. “He loved to sing.”

And a lot of us loved to listen.

Send a Kid to Camp

Last week, I wrote about the Tysons accounting firm that lets its employees wear jeans to work — if they donate to charity. Readers tell me other companies, including Deloitte & Touche, have similar programs.

Bill Barner of Falls Church had a twist: “Show up for work in formal wear and your boss has to make a donation.”

If your workplace organizes a fundraiser for Camp Moss Hollow — the summer camp for at-risk kids supported by readers of The WashingtoPost — I’ll be sure to mention it in my column.

To make a tax-deductible donation, go to washingtonpost.com/camp. Click where it says “Give Now,” and designate “Send a Kid to Camp” in the gift information. Or mail a check payable to “Send a Kid to Camp” to Send a Kid to Camp, P.O. Box 96237, Washington, D.C. 20090-6237.

Thanks for all the fish

People often stop me on the street to remark on my dog Charlie’s attractively shiny coat. His secret? Fish oil. His comes in the form of pills, but you may consume some fish oil in an altogether more pleasant way: a nice piece of wild Alaska salmon at Clyde’s.

That’s today’s special Send a Kid to Camp menu item. Order the salmon at any Clyde’s restaurant, including the Old Ebbitt Grill, the Hamilton and the Tombs, and the proceeds will benefit Camp Moss Hollow. Tell them I sent you.

To read previous columns by John Kelly, go to washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.

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