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Love Your Dad, But Not His Speedo

You don't have to celebrate every part of your father today.

Happy Father's Day, Dads. In honor of Father's Day, I would like to honor all the people who made Father's Day possible ... mothers.

Just kidding. Claim the couch or man the grill—whatever you like. It's your day, dads, so seize it in your own way.

I thought a funny dad story was in order on Father's Day—just not from me. My Dad and I were estranged until I was about 20 years old, then he died of leukemia when I was 22.  How was that?  Funny? Seriously, it is impossible for me to speak of my Dad without sucking the life out of the room. I rarely bring him up, but if someone does inquire, and the answer is unavoidable, and I have to share the very brief tale of our relationship as I just did, I get the, "sorry I asked" look from people and I see them making a mental note to themselves that I am a ruiner of small talk and good moods.

But I actually do have a funny story, one funny story, about me and my father. I met my dad for the first time in many years at his home in Florida. I was very excited to see him and of course go to Florida where he lived because he, like me, was a passionate hater of all things winter, proof that I was born in this way, if you ask me. Anyway, we were to spend a four-day weekend together that involved a lot of nothing but going to the beach. When we arrived back at his place from the airport, the plan was to quickly change and go right to the beach. I went in to the sort of half-bathroom he had off the kitchen that was part utility closet/washer/drier/toilet and what I saw on the drier took my breath away. I froze, dropped my bathing suit on the floor, went in to a small panic and quickly looked for a window to see if I could jump out. There was none, I was trapped with it ... and what was yet to come.

A little background: I am from Kearny originally, and I know everyone believes their hometown is truly unique in some way, but Kearny was uniquely a soccer town. I would venture a guess, when I was a kid, it was 90 percent populated by the Scottish. All parents and/or grandparents of most all my friends spoke in a heavy brogue that would become totally indecipherable once the bars opened. In Kearny, individuality and free expression where not promoted. It did not matter if styles changed or what time of year it was, the men of Kearny had a "look." Daily attire included jeans, sneakers or pointy cowboy boots, and a T-shirt or button-down shirt, regardless if it was 30 degrees or 80 degrees. One day, the jeans might be sweat pants if you were in a soccer league, and the T-shirt might be a Thistle Football Club hoody, but one thing that never changed was that the feet—a man's feet—were never exposed, ever. If it was 105 degrees outside, sneakers would be on the feet and a full, to-the-knee bathing suit would be on the body. Sandals were only for women or women trapped in men's bodies. As for bathing suits, I did not know that any other type of bathing suit beside trunks existed until I encountered my first European that wasn't a Scot from Kearny.

So even when I transitioned to Morristown years later, the culture was enormously different and I remember thinking just how many effeminate males there were in Morristown because of all the men who wore sandals.  I am telling you, this wasn't just childish fashion snobbery, this was a mindset—I still have a Kearny childhood friend who will not allow her husband to wear sandals. Morristown men wore sandals and flip flops and tied sweaters around their necks. They confidently wore pink and their golf pants alone would have gotten them run out of Kearny like Frankenstein. They even had special boots for the rain and actual winter coats, not fleece-lined denim jackets. And they drank Pale Ale, Summer Brew and Old Fezziwig, not Budweiser. 

I finally figured out that it was indeed I who had the problem and I soon embraced Morristown and its brighter colors and its many men who are still very manly in their pink Oxford shirts and golf pants. And I felt bad for all the boys with sweaty, trapped feet I knew for so many years.

I still do not "love" the look of a guy in sandals, I don't think that can ever change, and I still can't help but love a guy in faded blue jeans with a bold white T-shirt with a bottle of Bud in his hand, and I don't think that will ever change, either. But sandals or sneakers, or jeans or golf pants, I really don’t care anymore. However, the same can not be said for the worst, most offensive fashion blunder a man can make—the Speedo. 

And it was the Speedo that I saw on the top of the washing machine in my father's bathroom when I went in to change to go to the beach. A Speedo. A Speedo would be worn by my paternal figure, and I would be seen with him. Okay, I was in Florida, and the chance that I would be seen by anyone from Kearny was slim, but there is always a chance. I would not be able to return to Kearny.

The panic was real and taking me over, I had to do something. I could feign illness, but I really wanted to go to the beach but I could not and would not go to the beach with a man in a Speedo.  This was true 20 years ago and it is as true today. I considered briefly flushing it down the toilet, but the obvious possible outcomes prevented me from trying. I considered putting it in my pocket, scooping it up with my own clothes after I put my bathing suit on, but what if he knew? Or saw it?  I was starting to sweat.  So I began to change in to my bathing suit all the while my mind racing as to how I would get out of this. Finally, when I knew I could not spend another minute in the bathroom without my father thinking I had a serious bowel obstruction, I grabbed it and threw it against the wall behind the washer and drier where it slid down in to the laundry abyss and for all I know may be sitting there today.

I came out to find my father standing in the kitchen in a way-cool pair of board shorts with a plain T-shirt on, waiting for me to go. I was not fond of his sandals but at least I could not see the size, shape or outline of that which I would have had he donned a Speedo.  The relief was like that of passing that imaginary bowel obstruction, and off we went. But, the fact remained, I now knew he owned and probably sometimes wore a Speedo. I was ickified.

Happy Father's Day and consider this: 60 percent of Anthony Weiner's constituents were calling for him to resign ... and he was NOT in a Speedo. He was in jeans for his close-up. Imagine if he were. No female on this continent wants to see any man in a Speedo, and as beautiful and handsome as you might be, if you have one, you need to let it go.

Marcel Poco March 25, 2012 at 08:19 PM
I googled for togs, swim trunks and (why do americans call it SPEEDO) swim brief, and saw your post. I am an 'expatriate' from europe - spain to be exact, and really dont understand the clouded thinking involve from your confession, admittedly redneck viewpoint (at least you are honest about it). In europe we really do not give it any thought to wearing the normal swim trunks (what you call speedo). There mustd be some humore in your post, but I haved talked to many here in US who view this way. But of corse most do not feel this way, they have a normal viewpoint. in spain it will be very strange to see long swim trunks, which defeat the purpose of swimmng and drag a person down. Then we know that it must be american who wears this. They are short pants. Why wear them in the water. Strange. Thanks for listening. Alex
Mike Fox July 05, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Ok, funny, but fairly offensive to those of us who don't consider a "speedo" a fashion faux pas... It's not about fashion at all. it's about comfort. And the psycho hang-ups propagated here are pretty sad...

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