parenting

'Classic Dads' Could Die Out with Our Generation

Do I have it in me to purposefully embarrass my children in front of their boyfriends and girlfriends? I'm not so sure.

by Ewout Lowie; photos by David Meulenbeld
Jun 18 2019, 11:52am

This article originally appeared on VICE Netherlands.

If there's one type of human who is both unique and completely interchangeable, it's the Classic Dad. Your father – assuming he is present in your life – is different but also almost exactly the same as everyone else's dad.

Sometimes people tell me I have certain Classic Dad-like characteristics, like my love of a leather bumbag, but as hard as they try I can't shake my fear that I'll never be worthy of the title. I hate Dire Straits, never pretend to know about the merits of different exhaust pipes and hardly ever tell a bad joke.

A co-worker recently confided that he too carries around the same burden. He's afraid that he – a man with the carpentry skills of a vole – will never be able to build his future offspring a dollhouse, like his father did.

This got me wondering if the Classic Dad is in danger of becoming extinct as our generation has kids. So in tribute to my dad and all the other Classic Dads out there, and as a way to memorialise their best traits for the history books, I've compiled some of those traits and explained why I have absolutely no hope of continuing them.

CONFIDENCE IN EXPERTISE

I could start and complete an exhaustive five-year wine course, but even with a sommelier degree in my hand I'd never talk about wine as confidently as a Classic Dad chatting about a type of alcohol he knows literally nothing about. I could study every language there is to learn and not speak with as much conviction as a dad trying to order a snack in a foreign country he's never been to before.

PARALLEL PARKING

No child deserves to grow up in a world without a Classic Dad who calmly slides into a parking spot in reverse like this:

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THEY KNOW WHAT THEY LIKE

I love 1980s power ballads, can name each member of the Wu-Tang Clan and appreciate the subtlety of ABBA. But you can also get me going with some doom metal or Italo disco. My dad would never be this conflicted because he's a Classic Dad, and Classic Dads know what they like, and can easily bucket anything into "good" or "bad". For example, Good: the Rolling Stones (or, "the Stones"), Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Eagles, Queen, Earth Wind and Fire. Bad: Hip Hop, House, Rap.

Nuance, you see, is a modern illness.

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The author perusing some Neil Diamond albums.

FALLING ASLEEP IN FRONT OF THE TV

An increasing number of people my age don't own a television, which is a dangerous development. Nodding off while watching a mindless game show, a political talk show or something sports-related you cancelled all family plans for, and then pretending like you were awake the whole time, is one of the most effective ways a Classic Dad can relax.

CLASSIC DADS KNOW NO SHAME

I highly doubt I'll ever be brave enough to take my kids into a restaurant and just rearrange the tables and chairs without asking anyone first, or make the waitress listen to me bullshit about my extensive wine knowledge, or talk too loudly about the people next to us. And this presents a problem: will I ever be able to call myself a true dad if I'm not directly and constantly making my kids want to die of shame?

I sometimes wonder if I'll always be this cripplingly self-aware. I'm scared that I'll never stick a giant DSLR in my kids' faces, or purposefully embarrass my children in front of their boyfriends and girlfriends. I don't know if I'll ever feel like the world truly belongs to me, the way Classic Dads do.

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BLAMING SOMEONE ELSE FOR NOT UNDERSTANDING HOW TECHNOLOGY WORKS

I feel good about this one, to be honest. I was once a nerd who understood HTML and Flash codes, but these days I don't even know how the "Cloud" works. If I keep going at this rate, by the time I have kids I'll be the one buying very expensive laptops without knowing how to properly protect them – which means they'll end up full of malware and viruses. I'll attempt to solve the problem by angrily calling my kids about the piece of junk I've been unlucky enough to purchase, and blaming my wife for downloading the wrong files.

Never forget the ultimate Classic Dad, who filmed his trip to Las Vegas with his GoPro faced the wrong way the entire time.

IT'S THE LITTLE DETAILS

The more subtle traits of Classic Dads will probably be easier to learn – pulling the front of a baseball cap down after putting it on, so that a small tuft of hair sticks out the back; standing with your hands on your hips and making a weird face because you're intentionally looking directly into the sun; banging out puns like "Happy New Hair!" after someone gets a haircut.

If we start out small, we might one day be worthy of following in our fathers' footsteps, and pass the ultimate way of being a dad on for generations to come.

(Many thanks to Bibi and Rosa, who I borrowed for the pictures, and their mum, Loes Koster, who was OK with that!)

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This article originally appeared on VICE NL.