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5 Ways People With the Best Intentions Ruin Father's Day

Father's Day is only three days away, and I've yet to even think about what I'm going to give myself this year. I mean, what do I buy for the man who buys himself everything? (Two of everything?) That procrastination has always been the downfall of the holiday -- hell, even its own establishment took 62 years before it was legally recognized in 1972. And every year, on the third Sunday of June, you can hear a collective "Oh, shit" sweep across the country as people race to the store to find something at the last minute so their dads won't think they're ungrateful pieces of shit.

That can cause some problems, but probably not in the way that most people expect. We dads -- or at least the ones who aren't assholes -- don't blame people, or even complain for that matter, when we encounter these little hiccups every Father's Day. To be honest, most of us did the same things with our own dads. Things like ...

#5. "Happy Father's Day! Here's Your Required Card!"

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The Good Intention:

Most of our dads have never been much on presents. For instance, on Christmas, he genuinely asks people to not buy him gifts. We get him a few oddball things anyway, and he's always quite content to just sit back and watch all of us dive into our own. He's truly never happier than when we are.

But we want to get him something on Father's Day, because that's his thing. At the very least, we'll stop by a convenience store and pick him up a card. Usually something funny, because dads love comedy. Mostly involving farts, but comedy nonetheless. A card lets him know that not only do we appreciate him, but we care enough to go out of our way to buy something specifically for him.

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"Oh, that is adorable. Let's just read every single one of these to make sure there's nothing better."

Wait, What's Wrong With That?

Two things, actually. The first is that in most cases, Dad never stopped liking presents. In the case of Christmas, he was just making one of those small sacrifices so that he could get the kids what they wanted. If the wife wanted to get him a nice set of heroin needles or something, that meant dipping into the family's collective funds, thereby taking away from what they could be spending on the kids. And between getting something for himself or seeing the kids erupt in excitement when they get to "the big gifts" behind the tree ... that ain't no choice at all, baby.

But the second thing is that we're not "just dads." We're still guys. So a card of any type for any occasion, to most of us, means, "Here's a poem that some advertising douchebag was paid to write ... to an all-encompassing audience. To no one in particular." That's not to say we don't appreciate the thought, but if we're being totally honest, the card itself means so little to us. The undiluted truth is that the second you're out of earshot, we toss that fucker like used toilet paper. We'd prefer you just kept the money and gave us the thought.

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"Thank you for the think gift, mortal human daughter. You shall be rewarded for your persistence."

I don't mean that figuratively, either. Seriously, just walk up to your dad on Father's Day and say, "Hey, did I ever tell you that I appreciate everything you do for us? Because I do." It doesn't have to be all sappy and dramatic. Just a friendly, honest, "You know what? You kind of kick ass."

There Are, of Course, Exceptions

If you can do this in a non-accusing way, ask your dad to see all of the other Father's Day cards you've given him over the years. If he's able to (he won't be able to), by all means continue buying him cards. However, you do have to be careful with this tactic, because if he thinks you're offended to find out that he throws them away, he'll now start saving them from here on out, out of sheer family politics.

Of course, you could always go out to the garage or his closet and thumb through his stuff to find out on your own if he saves them ... but you will, with 100 percent certainty, find his 1980s hairy-crotch-people VHS porn. If that's a risk you're willing to take over the purchase of a piece of cardboard with a clothed monkey on the front, then by all means, dig away.

The only other exception I can imagine is if your dad is actually your mother. And don't give me that shit about "My dad actually loves cards! He told me so!" You think that because your dad is being deceptively polite. He's never going to open one, look inside for money and then whip it back at your face, yelling, "What's this bullshit? Fuck you and your shitty card! You're just like your whore of a mother! Always trying to make me gay!" Of course, if your dad really is like that, it may be time to stand up and tell him to fuck right off -- that he's not 14 anymore.

Of course, cards are still better than the drive-by well-wishers ...

#4. "I Just Called to Wish You a Happy Father's Day. Well, Gotta Go!"

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The Good Intention:

Sometimes you just can't make it over. You live in another state, or your car is currently a paperweight holding down your front lawn, or you had sex with so many models the night before that your legs are in a temporary paralysis. But even if you can't be there, you know you have to at least call.

So you dial up your dad and chat with him for a few minutes through the grimaces of a hangover. The entire conversation can be compressed with minimal effort to: "Hey I just wanted to call and wish you a happy Father's Day. [Four minutes of idle conversation] Well, I hate to cut and run, but I have some errands to do before it gets too late. Love ya!"

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"Wake up, dude, we've got errands to chug."

Boom, another Father's Day taken care of. Dad knows you were thinking about him, and he got his personal touch-base to boot. You're off the hook until next year.

Wait, What's Wrong With That?

Even though you didn't intend to, by making a quick couple-minute call, you've just let your dad know that you are only calling him because of some unspoken requirement. It boils down to "I don't want to be on the phone right now, but I sort of have to get this minor annoyance out of the way." Now, I personally haven't known very many men who like talking on the phone in the first place, so our natural instinct -- including those of the father -- is "OK, wrap this shit up quick so I can get back to watching monkeys fuck on the Discovery Channel."

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"No, don't fall for it, Bubbles! He's got a wife!"

Now, I'm not saying that your conversation has to be an hour long to mean anything, but it definitely shouldn't be a quick in-and-out means of simply showing him that you remembered the holiday. If you're stuck in this situation, or you know your dad is one of those people who hates talking on the phone, I have a very easy, zero-dollar means of making that call mean something:

Think of any story in which your dad's input had a positive, possibly life-changing influence on you, and tell it to him. It doesn't have to be cheesy or told in some dramatic fashion with John Williams music playing in the background. Just something real: "Hey, remember that time when I was 8, and you showed up to the school and beat the shit out of that bully who was always picking on me? I just wanted you to know that I really appreciate that. Not just that, but pretty much everything you do as a dad and a human."

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"It's the hair, isn't it?"

There Are, of Course, Exceptions

If you call him up and he's out of breath, just assume that you interrupted him fucking your mom. Just do yourself a favor and dive right into that assumption. That's one case where cutting the call off shortly after "Hello" is perfectly acceptable. Wish him a happy Father's Day and get the fuck out of there like you accidentally just walked in on a Klan rally.

Of course, the opposite could actually be worse -- and I think it's the one most people fall victim to because they don't see the downside of ...

#3. "We Have a Whole Day Planned for You!"

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The Good Intention:

The day is perfect. You wake up the old man with a nice breakfast in bed. There's fresh coffee waiting for him after he gets up and around. You make reservations at one of those "let's splurge just this once" restaurants. You cancel plans so you can just hang out with him all day. It's just you, your dad and the family doing things together. Lots and lots of things. All day.

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"Wake up, sleepyhead! We have a whole day of relaxing things for you to do!"

Wait, What's Wrong With That?

I'm going to go ahead and speak for all fathers here, because the exceptions are so few that I believe it's OK to just blurt this one out: He just wants a day off. No chores, no responsibilities, no work. And that doesn't mean he gets to just put them off until Monday. No dad wants to hear on Father's Day, "Don't you worry about the yard. You can mow that tomorrow. You just take today to do whatever you want. There will be time to do all the chores later."

He doesn't want to just delay his work by a full day -- hell, that just compounds stress. He wants someone else to step in and handle it on their own. That's the gift. The gesture itself is worth more than anything you could have bought him. Except a car. Cars are far more valuable than chores.

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Actually, on second thought, gold is a great gift, too.

Now, it's important to understand that, just like with every one of these points, it's not that he doesn't appreciate and enjoy what you're doing for him. The idea that you went through all of this trouble to celebrate his existence is pretty damn awesome. But in many cases -- especially right now, where people are having to work six days a week to pay the bills -- Sunday is likely his only day off from life's normal stress-dumping bullshit. The plans you've made for him have just inadvertently created the busiest Sunday he's had all year. It's taken away his release valve.

There Are, of Course, Exceptions

Don't get me wrong, I'm not the Scrooge of Father's Day, throwing geese at crippled kids and fucking huge piles of money with my golden dick (I don't know much about that story -- I'm having to do a little guesswork here). There are lots of dads out there who do want an entire day of just getting out of the house and doing things with the family from sunup until sundown. But I think that most of them are fathers whose kids have grown up and are on their own. Or divorced fathers who only see their kids on the weekends.

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"I love you guys, too. Now, who's ready to hit the bar?"

It usually comes down to giving them something that they don't already get in everyday life. If they hang out with you constantly, it's perfectly fine to give them some much-needed space and alone time. It's something they don't normally receive, and that in itself is an awesome present. That seemingly "non-gift" is more valuable than you realize. It's also not a breach of etiquette to simply ask him what he wants (including that alone time). Nobody is going to be offended for eliminating the guesswork. That's kind of what guys are all about in the first place. He'll appreciate you even asking.

Believe me, it's much better than the alternative ...

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John Cheese

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