I was sitting in the drive-thru waiting for my order when I overheard a conversation between a couple of young folks working there. One was discussing her dad, who had just come through moments before me. The main topic of the conversation was the dad’s attire: Apparently, he’d been wearing his T-shirt, cargo shorts and white sneakers.
The kids, of course, found all of it hilarious. I mean, who wears cargo shorts and white tennis shoes — other than a dad?
I listened to their giggles, and then I looked down at my own clothing: Moldy T-shirt, cargo shorts and white tennis shoes. Nike Air Monarchs, in case you’re wondering. The go-to shoe for old dudes looking to grill or mow. (I have two extra pairs for each activity.)
Hey. Y’all hang on here just a minute. Stop laughing.
Let’s discuss this whole dad-and-fashion thing. There are several reasons we dads dress the way we do.
First, we’re older. If there ever existed a day on which we worried about how others thought of our appearance, that day passed a long time ago. We’re not out to impress anyone anymore. Sure, we’ll dress up for special occasions — only if our wives ask us to do so — but the rest of the time is ours. We’re in the “whatever’s comfortable” stage of our lives. Not once do I leave my house on a day off and think, “Boy, I sure hope I look presentable to strangers.” I have T-shirts older than those kids in the drive-thru, and we’ve been through a lot together. Think I’m gonna ditch ’em now? Think-a-danged-gain.
The shoes? I know, I know, we exist in a sneaker culture nowadays. Gotta have the right “kicks” for anyone to think of us as cool. (“Kicks” is young-people talk for fancy shoes.)
Dads don’t get it. I need something on my feet that allows me to walk through dirt, grass, rocks or whatever else is in my way. Why would I spend $150 on something made to stand on dirt? A while back, there was a viral video featuring someone looking at a guy’s shoes and asking, “What are those?”
Buddy, these are my shoes. Make another comment and I’ll turn ’em into “kicks” right up your backside.
Dads would wear Crocs everywhere if moms would let ’em. Same reasoning. They’re comfortable, and why are people looking at my feet anyway?
The cargo shorts? Don’t make me go there, especially if you happen to be one of my own kids. Those shorts are a necessity for fatherhood. Once those babies hit the racks, dads everywhere suddenly had freer hands. My own pockets have carried everything from chap stick, lip gloss and even feminine products — none of which were my own. My kids sure didn’t mind cramming those pockets full when they needed me to hang onto something for ’em. They’d best shut their chap stick-lined traps before critiquing my lack of fashion sense.
With dads, there shall be caps. Every form of baseball cap ever created is a must-have in a dad’s wardrobe. Why? Maybe it’s because we don’t feel like combing whatever hair we have left, but mostly because we’re comfortable that way. What other reason do we need? Sure, those caps are ragged and sweat-stained, but it’s because dads do stuff. We get dirty and sweaty. It’s a dad thing for sure.
The biggest reason dads dress the way they do, however, is because they have kids. That’s one of the requirements for being a dad. Having children means having less money. Duh. I coulda owned a closet full of designer suits and fancy footwear if I hadn’t wasted all my money on raising children. Little beggars wanted to eat every single day — sometimes two or three times per day — and they constantly needed new stuff. I might be a millionaire if the little snots had learned to turn off the lights and quit jacking with the thermostat.
We dads blew most of our income on the ones who at the time were worried about their exteriors. The ones whose sense of style changed faster than the channels on Dad’s TV. Anything we bought ’em for school the year before was “so last year” within months. How could our fledglings possibly wear the same clothes two years in a row? The shame.
We dads who are still working know we have to dress a certain way for our jobs. I won’t be wearing cargo shorts or my cap in my classroom any time soon. We’re responsible adults, and we will stay that way during working hours.
But when we walk through the doors of our castles, we’re kings of our own homes, and kings can wear Monarchs if they feel like it. I don’t need a robe of silk as long as I still have my vintage Led Zeppelin T-shirt. I’ll cram my cargo pockets with golf tees, fishing gear and my bottle opener, and I’ll slap a sweat-stained cap on my graying head on my way out to my yard and grill. Not once has one of my children ever commented, “This burger sure would taste better, Dad, if you were wearing some of those new Jordans.”
Just being a dad is cool enough for me. Along with being my wife’s husband, it’s my favorite thing to be.
Whether anyone thinks I look presentable while doing so isn’t found anywhere on my list of life’s concerns. That whole fashion thing is just a big Croc anyway.
Happy Father’s Day, dads.
Slap on a cap and some white, grass-stained shoes and meet me at the grill.