Beloved Hobbies That Are Secretly The New 'Dad Things'
I'm not exactly an expert on normal Dad stuff. My Dad is super into essential oils and soaking in a long bath while reading Vanity Fair which is why both he and I are so fucking dope. So, when I say "Dad Things" what I'm talking about are things that were once considered cool and transgressive, but as Millennials begin to hit middle age and the world begins to be built specifically for us, they've turned into ordinary bourgeois trappings -- a.k.a. The New Dad Things. It's kind of like how Ozzy Osbourne went from demon-worshiping metal frontman to still kind-of-cool cussing MTV dad to grandpa in an RV on an A&E show.
Escape Games are just text adventures brought to life for nerds. Specifically, Dad Nerds. They started popping up in major metropolitan areas in 2010 but today you can probably stroll past one or two in any typical midwestern strip mall. You can tell how many are in a town by how weird the names get. They all start out called some variation of "The Escape Game," but as a town gets more and more crowded and "The Escape Game" name gets scooped up, you'll inevitably get companies called Departure Frolics or Elopement Sports.
They're themed around James Bond-like spy narratives or Indiana Jones-style architectural digs. Being an extremely low-stakes version of Harrison Ford is every Dad's dream. By that I mean, "you get to be a version of Harrison Ford that doesn't get crushed to death by a rock if you screw up." The worst thing that can happen to you at an Escape Game is you fail to win a bumper sticker that says I Escaped! (Or "I Frolicked With Extreme Zest" in the more off-brand versions.)
Losing that bumper sticker is a huge deal for Dads though. First of all, losing money is very un-Dad, and that sticker has a retail value of at least fifty-four cents. The more important prize is bragging rights. "Oh you didn't Disenthrall yourself from the Lark on time, guess your dumb-shit kid sucks at puzzles, huh Ron."
Making Craft Beer
There was once a time when drinking something other than Natty Lite was mildly transgressive. Now, the male protagonist in every third Hallmark movie owns his own brewery. When a trend has made its way to the Hallmark channel, it's officially dead. That's why I'm so looking forward to the world premiere of the new Candace Cameron-Bure movie, A TikTok Vaping Christmas, Yeet: Brought To You By OnlyFans.
It's weird that we have a word for people whose hobby is drinking and it's "alcoholic," but making your own alcohol to drink is a totally separate and much more respectable thing. I guess these days if you're a true craft beer person you have to make it yourself because 90 percent of beer production is done by two companies, including craft labels like Blue Moon (owned by MillerCoors), Goose Island (Anheuser-Busch), and Boddingtons (also Anheuser-Busch). So there is a certain coolness factor in taking money from big corporations with a moderately priced homemade IPA.
Still, if you were making a horror movie where someone was bitten by a Were-Dad and then found himself slowly transforming, the pivotal morning post-transformation scene would have him waking up in bed with a Home Depot smoker and a six-pack of home-brewed pilsner. That's the most Dad you can possibly get. If I haven't convinced you yet, please know that this onesie exists:
When Dad's aren't consuming their own smoked meat and beer they must seek sustenance elsewhere, and where better than a dark room with a comfy chair, where a Die Hard movie might be playing? There's something about kicking up your feet and eating a burger that's just so Dad. Maybe it's the iconic image of a Dad in an armchair, reclined, in his underwear, with a beer as he watches a sport (competitive ribbon dancing, I assume).
Also, they do yell at you if you text during a movie, which while it's something I wholeheartedly agree with, it's also a total Dad move. Alamo Drafthouse is the cool Dad of movie theaters. It's like sure, you can come to my house and watch a movie, you can drink a little bit, no big deal, but you follow my rules, son.
When Alamo Drafthouse was just a boutique theater in the Austin warehouse district that showed cult movies and sold cheap booze they were pretty cool. Now they've hired a CEO who was formerly an executive at Starbucks, the biggest brand to ever ruin something that was once cool. Bringing in a Starbucks CEO will mean lots of expansion and good things for Alamo Drafthouse's bottom line, but it'll also mean its Dadification is complete.
I'm not sure it's fair to say that history podcasts were ever counterculture cool, but they were certainly once for young people, some of whom wore fedoras. Those people were pre-Dads just waiting to blossom.
History has always been well established Dad territory. Dads have loved old Westerns since they were new Westerns, and World War II, and telling you common history facts that you have to pretend not to know because it makes them happy. It's your obligation as someone who loves their Dad to let him tell you that Teddy Roosevelt was actually kind of a badass.
Podcasts are supposed to be the next big thing in the media industry. In the first ten months of 2019, 129,000 new podcasts were launched. If you Google "How many history podcasts are there?" the search engine just spits out the infinity symbol. You can really see how Dad-like these shows are when you peruse their merch selection. If there's one thing Dads are known for more than loving history, it's loving puns (and boy howdy do history podcasts love puns).
Related: A Note About The Cracked Podcast
Record collections are what I call a fluctuating Dad Thing. They went from being super Dad to counterculture but they've swung right back around into Dad territory, just like ironic mustaches that morphed over time into normal mustaches without anyone ever noticing the change.
If you've got a Crosby record player with five albums from Best Buy (likely candidates include the Guardians Of The Galaxy soundtrack, Hotel California, and Nas's Illmatic), start calling your exes, because congratulations, you're a Dad! (This includes me. I'm a total Dad.)
Bands can go into Dad territory real fast. Remember in 2012 when Paul Ryan said his favorite band was Rage Against The Machine and Tom Morello called him, "the embodiment of the machine?" It was the best possible response, but that doesn't mean that on that day Tom Morello didn't also say a silent prayer for the crossing of his music into the nether-realm of Dad stuff. Yes, due to the inexorable passage of time, Rage has joined long-time residents Steely Dan and Jimmy Buffett who'd passed over long before.
It's not just your taste in music that makes owning a record collection a Dad thing, though. If you're like me, you got a record player in college and then realized after one move why having thousands of hours of music in one tiny device that fits in your pocket is so damn convenient. Records are heavy! Even if you own like twenty of them, no one wants to be the one to carry the record box during the move. Is there any better quality of sound that makes actually working out worth it? (I personally will exercise when I'm dead.)
It's a major Dad thing to cling to those precious twenty records you bought in college, hauling them from apartment to apartment so that twice a year you can listen to a copy of Midnight Marauders that you got at Walmart so it'll sound slightly better than if you streamed it on Spotify. It's not good or bad. It's enjoyable ... just in a Dad way.
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