Actor, writer and producer Dan Bucatinsky’s tale of fatherhood as a gay parent is quite simply hysterical. His book, “Does This Baby Make Me Look Straight” delves into the journey he and his partner, Don traversed in adopting and then raising their two children through witty, humorous and heartwarming accounts.
All fathers have shared their stories about parenting. Bucatinsky’s are equally as hilarious if not even more. The reader is immediately immersed into his world as the opening chapter has his daughter playing a guessing game of “smell my fingers” with him. The result sets the tone for the book which takes the reader through the trials of Bucatinsky and his partner finding an appropriate birth mother to the disappointment of not receiving Valentines from his children.
Fathers play a certain role in raising our children, especially with our role expanding and changing with time. Bucatinsky writes, “I think there are certain unwritten rules in the straight-parent couples I know. Dad’s voice is heard but Mom’s is listened to. She dictates the schedule, the menu and the itinerary. The who/what/where and when. And Dad doesn’t even try. But in a same-sex couple? It can sometimes feel like two magnets approaching each other from the wrong sides.” Quite simply, take our issues about feeling successful and powerful and multiply it by two. Bucatinsky shoots right from the hip in the clashes he and his partner have like what to give the kids for a snack or who becomes the child’s “favorite” for that week. Not much different right?
It’s the stories that Bucatinsky shares that really are the meat and potatoes of the book. Speaking of meat, his tale about the pounds of hamburger waiting in the car while he valiantly tries to get his daughter to do“#2” in a Pier 1? Absolutely sidesplitting. From the battle with head lice and late night pharmacy runs to Bucatinsky facing his hatred of sports and becoming a “soccer dad”, his chronicles of daddydom are quite relatable.
Bucatinsky dedicates one very raw and heartfelt chapter to the loss of his father. As his father reached the end, Bucatinsky writes, “…my feelings about my daughter and dad were so raw. I wasn’t used to feeling this exposed. Loving them both so completely, unconditionally, and vulnerably was scary.”This chapter shows Bucatinsky wears his heart on his sleeve and the reality of a new life entering his while another one leaves connects with anyone experiencing the same.
The one chapter I found most enjoyable was dropping the kids off at the first day of school. Bucatinsky describes the parents that dropped off their kids like a cast of characters from some reality series. His depiction of the AT-HOME DAD was pure Hollywood. He describes the dad as, “Everyone’s pal, this guy shows up to school in his workout clothes and hangs out to talk with all the parents, a few teachers, and the school principal, with whom he has a whole library of private jokes… He’s usually pretty good-looking, though he sports an ever-growing midsection from the post-bedtime wine and midmorning brownies he devours while watching internet porn. Oh, and there’s always a dab of glitter glue stuck in his hair…” Stereotypical? Yes. True? Well… that remains to be seen… As a product of Hollywood, Bucatinsky describes the SAHD as most people see it on television and in the movies (or perhaps how they really are in California). However, we all know that we would NEVER drop our kids off in workout clothes… Am I right? *insert cymbal crash here*
Lance and I had the opportunity to sit in on a reading by Bucatinsky and his celebrity status as a Hollywood actor and writer took a back seat as he spoke candidly about his book. While most of the questions were about how it was to work with Lisa Kudrow and how he enjoyed acting on the show “Scandal”, I raised the question of “how difficult was it to write some parts of this book?” After all, our private memoirs are usually reserved for a diary bought at some bookstore or entrenched in pods of our brain marked “Memories”. Bucatinsky explained that the experiences he had made for a good story and some of the more personal tales he found to be difficult to divulge. The book grabs you from the first page and leads you down a journey of fatherhood that is a little different from one we may be accustomed to. For example, his view of the F word is a bit different than yours may be.
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