As Father’s Day approaches, I have no dreams of being named Father of the Year. Not even in my own house.
You see, at our house I have had to assume the role of making sure the shower spigots are closed down all the way (they aren’t), the lights in empty rooms are off (they never are), the front door is locked (it isn’t even pushed shut most of the time). While the kids frolic, I follow behind and enforce the laws of security and conservation.
A couple of years ago, a commercial showed a father wandering around the house cutting off wasteful utilities. I think he called himself “the enforcer.”
The first time I saw it, I leaped off our couch and screamed:
“That’s me! I’m the enforcer! They’ve stolen my job in the house and made a commercial out of it!”
I suspect that any house not 2 inches deep in running water and burning so many kilowatts that it’s visible from space has an enforcer. Most likely it’s the father, and he no doubt endured one of the many recessions our country has gone through.
Surely you recall stories about survivors of the Great Depression who hid money in attics and under floorboards because they had lived through times when only banks had it. Other, less severe recessions made enforcers of many more: the Copper Panic of 1789; the Depression of 1807; the 1860-61 recession; the Long Depression of 1873-96; the early 1980s recession; and of course, the Great Recession of 2007-09.
Me, I grew up amid the Recession of 1958, also known as the Eisenhower Recession, according to Wikipedia, because Ike was president from 1953 to 1961. Life magazine sent photographers out and found that more than 5 million people – 7 percent of the workforce – were forced out of jobs.
My childhood, then, was one of scarcity. It probably would have been so even if the nation’s money were flowing freely, because we were farm folks. We ate sufficiently because of livestock and a big garden, but we worked hard and never knew excess body fat.
Despite the constant work and hard times, my childhood was as large as all outdoors, literally. Indoors didn’t include the luxuries beyond life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We all learned to conserve, sometimes drastically. I suspect that’s why I am too much of a pack rat today to please my wife.
Anyway, when the kids are tromping through the house on a given weekend, I get little rest because I jump up to turn off bathroom lights and fans and water faucets. I pick up left-behind soda cans and water bottles to determine which belongs to which child.
“Look here, drink all you want, but please finish them before opening a new one,” I constantly nag. “It’s a waste. What if we were going through a recession?”
They never understand, but perhaps that is good. A healthy economy is better than an enforcer’s popularity on Father’s Day.
Reach Glynn Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.