Read an Excerpt
THE DAWNING REALIZATION
“Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that happen to a man.”— Leon Trotsky
I can remember the day very clearly. It was a Friday after work and I was on my way to my parents’ house when the heavens opened. I got soaked from head to toe. Stepping into the hall, I took off my dripping coat and sodden shoes and went to put them in the closet. And then it happened. I spotted them right at the back. They were an unwanted Christmas gift from a Scottish aunt a few years back. I remembered the feeling of disappointment when I’d unwrapped the box. I’d been hoping for a really cool pair of headphones but instead I got a really uncool pair of fur-lined tartan slippers. Needless to say I’d never worn them. They were slung into the cupboard under the stairs the day after Christmas and forgotten. Until now.
My feet were wet and cold and suddenly the slippers looked unbelievably attractive. The word that sprung to mind was “cozy.” I picked them up, turned them over in my hands and was about to put them on when my dad strolled into the hall and gave me a knowing smile. He was a dedicated fan of the softer-soled shoe; in fact, he was the only man I knew who had both a summer and a winter pair. He said one word: “Wait.” Then he ambled over, picked up the slippers and walked into the family room. He placed them on top of a piping hot radiator and said, “Just give it a minute, I promise it’ll be worth it.”
Worth the Wait
We waited. The minute lasted an eternity. My feet were freezing. Eventually he removed the slippers and carefully placed them in front of me. I pushed myself into them. Pure bliss. It felt like I’d stepped into a bath of lightly toasted marshmallows.
When I’d floated back down to earth I asked, “Why didn’t you tell me about this earlier?”
He was very straightforward. “I’m sorry, son, but you just weren’t ready. You wouldn’t have listened, let alone appreciated what I’ve just done.”
I bristled, but deep down I knew he was right. I had been a boy – but now I was a man. “Well is there anything else as good as this that you’ve been keeping to yourself?”
“Actually, there is something else I can probably share with you.”
“Such as?” I asked, expectantly.
“Have you ever sat on top of a mountain after a lengthy hike and drunk a cup of hot tea fresh from a thermos?”
No Turning Back
It was March 8, 2002, and I was thirty-two years old. That was the day I realized I was turning into my dad. And it wasn’t bad. In fact, it felt really good. I was having a midlife epiphany – the opposite a midlife crisis.
But the jump from wanting to rave all night to wanting to ramble all day can be confusing. What follows is a guidebook for fellow travelers, a lighthearted concoction of tips, quizzes and funny stories, all designed to help you understand and embrace your inner dad. So get your slippers on, ease yourself back into a comfortable armchair, take a sip of hot chocolate (no doubt from your favorite mug) and enjoy.
“The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.”—Oscar Wilde
“Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.”—Chalres Schulz