I always looked up to my dad. Still do.
He wore ties. He taught me how to shave. He had an office in our basement full of fascinating stuff and I am not talking about the 1970s Playboy we found in one of his filing cabinets either. He had an adding machine that my younger brother and I used to play with constantly. I loved to emulate him. His company ran a campaign called V.I.C. (Very Important Customer) that I took upon myself as my personal tag on walls, the underside of the coffee table, and behind the deep freeze in the basement. My mom was reluctant to paint over that last example when we cleaned out the laundry room.
My dad was the hardest working salesman I had ever seen. We marvelled at his ability to get us to eat another spoonful of whatever was for dinner. He worked out of his car and could talk to anyone about anything at anytime. My dad is retired now, but he can still sell another helping of brussel sprouts even if you don’t think you really want them.
As a young boy, finding the right Father’s Day gift was a challenge. I knew he wore ties and while he didn’t golf all that much, I knew he probably needed golf balls. Buying your dad a Father’s Day gift was a big deal. I always took extra care thinking about what to give him. Since he taught me to shave, and I used to watch him do it and then slap on some aftershave, I always thought that was a safe bet.
So what can a young boy afford to buy his Dad? The Walgreens special. English Leather and Old Spice. These are the kinds of fragrances that define a man the likes of Ron Burgundy. These are the heavy-duty bottles. The English Leather with the big red plastic top, plastic bottle, adorned by a riding saddle. The Old Spice ceramic hand grenade with the stopper on top. I really had no idea that buying him 36 ounces of this manly concoction would ever go to waste. He seemed super excited when he opened it. I never looked at my mom’s face when he did. I probably would have seen her laughing.
He graciously accepted every ounce and would give me a big hug. He seemed excited and it made me feel good to get my hero something that made him smile.
“Best present ever!” he would say.
Like I said before, my younger brother and I used to explore every nook and cranny of the house. Once while searching the bathroom, probably for things we could mix together to create new combinations of groundbreaking products, I came across his English Leather/Old Spice stash.
It was tucked in the back of a drawer, all 12 bottles in a row like soldiers standing in attention. The poor guy had to relocate his socks just to accommodate them. Even if you were a 12-year-old boy addicted to Axe, it wouldn’t be humanly possible to use all of this up. I still have bottles of three-ounce colognes that I have had for years. But there they stayed, eating up space in his drawer. I am sure he was determined to try and use some of it, maybe when I was watching him get ready for work in the morning just for effect.
I didn’t give him aftershave for Father’s Day after discovering that stash and I am sure he was relieved when I started finding other things he could use instead. What I learned was that even though I gave him so many, he was still as excited as when he opened his very first bottle from me. It’s not about the gift really. It was about his reaction and every time he delivered.
I try to carry this over with my own kids to this day. Making a big deal out of something that they made or an accomplishment of theirs. It is a big deal because you are showing them how much you care about them.