Father's Day is coming up, and if you're thinking about getting me a present, here's what I want:
An authentic NASCAR race car, complete with an 800-horsepower engine and a fiery multicolor paint job that looks like it comes from the Earl Scheib outlet in Hell. Imagine the trauma I'll cause the Volvos on my block when I rev up that bad boy. ("Side air bag this, you Swedish meatballs!")
Can you see me in a flame retardant racing suit? I'd look like a Teletubby!
This isn't some sick midlife male fantasy I cooked up. It's a sick commercial reality: an actual Winston Cup racer. I saw it in the Neiman Marcus catalogue.
It's mine for a mere $125,000.
It comes with everything you need to go totally NASCAR: shocks, struts, four teeth and an assortment of chewing tobacco.
The catch is: You can't drive it. It's not street legal. Essentially, you're plunking down 125 G's for a lawn ornament. Hey, big spender, for one-tenth of that, Home Depot will send a limo for you.
The catalogue advises that the race car is fully loaded "to sound great and look great just sitting in the driveway."
Bummer! I don't have a driveway.
You leaf through a catalogue like this and the first thing you think is: Man, some guys are making way too much money. One gift I liked that was much more reasonably priced: a $70 golf game where you float a plastic green in your pool and chip wiffle balls onto it. The $70 is no problem. It's the $35,000 for the pool that might hurt.
A pool is the last thing I'd want. (Although I admit it might be fun to invite a bunch of people over for a pool party, and after a few margaritas, start rocketing real golf balls in there. "Hey, fatso, fore!") First of all you get an endless parade of neighbors and relatives coming over. You hate these people now--imagine how much you'll hate them by August. And God forbid the "water chemistry" gets out of whack. You could be looking at another Love Canal.
Anyway, I've already gotten my present.
For Father's Day I got to play golf. On Mother's Day.
Pretty cool, huh? It's like a "double word score." I don't have to worry about pretending to be sensitive on Mother's Day, and my children don't have to worry about what to get me on Father's Day. They can get me the same thing they got their mother on Mother's Day: nothing.
My kids are nonobservant. They have no idea there is such a thing as a Father's Day and a Mother's Day. Where exactly on MTV would they acquire that information? From a Marilyn Manson video? Oh, like those mutants have parents.
Even if my kids had heard of Father's Day, I don't think they would necessarily connect it to me. The older they get, the less they think of me as a father. They think of me as an ATM with nose hair.
Get this: The other day my daughter asked me for a credit card. She said she was tired of asking me for money.
The truth is the best presents I can get from my family are: peace, quiet and my own bathroom. And if anybody's going to bring me breakfast in bed, please God let it be Wendy Rieger.
There is something for Father's Day that intrigues me, though. (Besides Wendy.)
This week I heard a radio ad for an orchestra concert at Wolf Trap (motto: "Our Audience Is So Old That When They're Asleep Their Children Think They're Dead") that promised a rendition of "the '1812' Overture the way it was meant to be heard--with cannon fire at the end!"
That's the gift I want: I'd like to fire the cannon. (My concern, though, is that it might take out the first two rows--that'd end Pledge Week forever.)
Shooting a cannon would be so cool. It satisfies man's three primal needs: Loud noise. Shooting Flame. Stuff that goes splat.
Excuse me, Tony, what about sex?
Ha! At my age, I can live without sex--but not without my glasses. Given a choice between sex and shooting that cannon, are you kidding me? At least I have reason to suspect the cannon would work.
In fact, I suffer from cannon envy. America's Best Loved Feature Writer, Mr. Henry, fires off a cannon to the "1812" Overture every New Year's Eve at midnight at his home in Takoma Park. The tradition began 22 years ago when a neighbor fired off a cannon, and Mr. Henry--a Vietnam vet--hit the deck.
"I thought we were being mortared and the next shot was coming down the chimney," Mr. Henry recalled.
The explosion was so powerful, it broke windows and knocked knickknacks off shelves.
"A very high tchotchke casualty rate," Mr. Henry said.
Naturally, Mr. Henry wanted a piece of the action. He bought his own cannon. To test-fire it, Mr. Henry drove out to a friend's farm in Virginia-- where he discovered, to his delight, "When you've got a cannon in a pickup truck, you can drive any part of I-66 you want."
Now firing the cannon annually is one of Mr. Henry's great delights.
"When folks hear it for the first time, they think a train has derailed," he says proudly.
I wonder if Neiman Marcus has a catalogue with that.