International Women’s Day took place this week. I don’t know if there were people marching in vagina beanies. I try to ignore “popular” movements that sell merchandise on the internet and accept major credit cards for payment. Besides, women already have a month dedicated to them. Now they have a special day. That’s in addition to Why Haven’t You Called Day, otherwise known as Mother’s Day.
But I have identified a truly marginalized group that yearns for liberation, one that has been overlooked historically. I’m talking about dads. We are such an oppressed group that I am declaring Monday, April 1, 2019 as International Dad’s Day (IDD). Notice that it is also April Fools Day, which is a match made in heaven, like killing two birds with one stone. No, I don’t mind mixing metaphors for something as important as this.
Let’s be clear. IDD is not your father’s Father’s Day, to paraphrase an old Oldsmobile ad. It is my hope that IDD will be celebrated in distinctively dad fashion. To wit, you won’t need to buy a penis cap or glasses at an official website. All you will have to do is tell a joke. But not just any joke. It has to be a dad joke. And, surely, you know what a dad joke is. Hint: I just set you up for one (see “Don’t Call Me Shirley”).
As an example, the other day I told my business students that anybody can come up with a big idea. They’re a dime a dozen. “What’s more important than a big idea?” I asked. They stared back, unsure. “As Robespierre said: execution,” I answered. That’s one of my favorite dad jokes. I subject students to it every semester. In fact, it’s such a staple that it may be making the rounds along with the answers to last year’s exams.
Another dad joke I like to tell is the beverage company I founded years ago that went bankrupt. “We were so close,” I tell students. Then I pause for dramatic effect. “It was called 6 Up.” The joke was told to me by my father, whose own misfortune in business was summed up by my mother, who proclaimed to him one day, “If you went into the baby bonnet business, babies would be born without heads!”
Dad jokes are corny, involve wordplay, and–like parables–throw the listener off at the end in one of two ways. Either the listener doesn’t expect such an absurd punchline, or they simply cannot believe the person telling them the joke would stoop so low for a laugh. You see how dad jokes are a lose-lose value proposition, as they say in business school.
There is another characteristic of dad jokes that distinguishes them from every other kind of joke. They are handed down from father to son to grandson and so on. It is not an exaggeration to say that a good dad joke can have a genealogy as long as Jesus’ in the opening of Matthew’s Gospel, which extends for forty-two generations from Abraham to David to Jesus. All right, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you catch my meaning.
Speaking of Abraham, who bore the mark of the covenant between Israel and God on his body, dad jokes function as a modern form of circumcision. Fathers and sons bond through it in ways that mothers and daughters cannot. Think of it as circumcision and bar mitzvah rolled into one, since one has to be of age to tell a dad joke. The analogy breaks down there, however, since to tell a dad joke you actually need to be a dad, and not just any dad but at least one in his forties. That would disqualify most boys who have just had their bar mitzvah.
If I were to write a book about dad jokes, I would call it, The Secret Handbook of Dad Jokes: How to Keep Laughing When Others Are Not. This is perhaps the most noticeable feature of dad jokes. Often, the only one laughing is the dad telling them. This reminds me of the time I unintentionally referred to a soccer scandal in class as a real “kicker.” When I caught the joke, I stamped my foot and howled. The students marveled at how impressed I was with my own wit.
So, let this serve as a call for the dads of the world to unite, rise up, and throw off our shackles. It’s time for us to claim what is ours. We want our own International Dad’s Day. Men, are you with me? Is anyone with me? I now ask all readers to stand for “The Internationale” (below). Play ball!
Note: Send me your dad jokes at any time by replying to this post. You know, the ones yearning to breathe free. I will collect them and include them in the post scheduled for Sunday, March 31, 2019, the day before International Dad’s Day.