Despite the fact that our plan was to get a mouth guard, I walked into the store with the knowledge that both Home Depot and Sports Authority are just like those old “Two Drink Minimum” Comedy Clubs in that getting in is free. Getting out ain’t.
Finding the mouth guard only took about 10 minutes but perusing the aisles upon aisles of other sporting paraphernalia took the better part of an hour.
After 30 minutes of browsing, my Germanic tight-ass tendencies kicked in and despite a relentless assault of “Dad, can I get this? Dad, can I get this?”, I stood firm and decided we were leaving with only a mouth guard on this trip.
Given my contributions to Sports Authority over the years I feel fairly secure in saying that of Mr. and Mrs. Sports Authority, whoever they are, have already covered the cost of braces, college, and weddings for their well-adjusted 2.5 kids on my dime. One cheap-o trip isn’t going to hurt them.
On the way to the checkout, my son came across a little trinket called the “Power Balance Sports Bracelet” and was absolutely convinced that at $29.99, this was a bargain that absolutely could not be passed up.
“Dad, can I get one of these?”
“Seriously, Dad. Puh-leeeeeeeeeeeeease??????”
After trudging back to the car I foolishly attempted to engage my surly 11 year old in a conversation about why he wanted a little neoprene bracelet with a holographic sticker on it in the first damn place.
“Because it helps with your balance, Dad. I really think it would help me in baseball.”
Me: “How exactly does it help with your balance?”
Him: “It balances out your positive and negative energy so you have better balance.” (Apparently at age 11 my son still can’t do long division but has a really good grasp on how important it is to continuously realign one’s chakras. I’m raising a Maharishi and didn’t even know it.)
Me: “How do you know it works?”
Him: “I saw it on TV.”
Oh. Well of course you did. Then that settles it. If it was on TV, the very same TV where Kate Gosslein and the Housewives of Orange County and the oompah-loompah’s of Jersey Shore have had shows for umpteen years now, then it MUST be a high quality product.
Sensing the need for a little Dad-ly wisdom I said, “Son, you gotta understand. Most of what you see on TV is complete crap. Especially things that claim to have magical powers. The only way to get better balance is by training your body. And if you want to do that I’m all for it.”
(Insert cricket sound effects here.)
“Let me put it another way, son. Derek Jeter is a pretty good baseball player, right?”
“Yeah. He’s great.”
“Okay. Do you think he’d be a better player if he wore one of those balance bracelets?”
11 year old son, with an overwhelming tone of derision: “He DOES wear a balance bracelet, DAD. And so did Shaq, and Kobe and Phil Mickelson. EVERYONE wears them, DAD.”
“Okay, I didn’t know that, but still, do you think those guys are all great athletes because they train their bodies to make the most of their God given abilities (minus Mickelson who’s the greatest golfer with man boobs since Craig Stadler) or because they wear a cheezy neoprene bracelet with a sticker on it?”
“Both, Dad. They’re great because of BOTH things.”
One of the interesting things about parenting is the more you do it, the more attuned you become to the idea of “I could talk and talk and talk about this until the kid is in his 30’s, but nothing I say is going to matter at this point because he’s already done listening.”
Clearly, this was one of those times.
The silence on the rest of the ride home was broken only by the sound of his door slamming shut a wee-bit too forcefully when we got to the driveway.
I don’t mean to sound glass half-empty here but if we’re really honest with ourselves, most of the stuff we buy and over-buy in this country is absolutely and completely unnecessary.
Do we need clothes? Sure.
Do we need $400 dollar jeans because they make our asses look good? No.
Do we need shelter? Absolutely.
But do we need an 11,000 square foot house with 42 bathrooms? No.
Do we need transportation of some kind? Well, yeah.
Does anyone really need an $80,000 dollar sports car? Not if they have at least a regular sized penis they don’t.
Some Dads are really concerned about what profession their Sons will choose when they grow up.
You know the drill: “I really want him to be a lawyer, or a Doctor, or a hedge-fund manager” or whatever.
I honestly don’t care all that much what profession Evan chooses when the time comes.
I just can’t abide by the idea of raising a sucker, a rube, another one of the mindless American sheep who buy stuff they don’t really need because someone they don’t even know told ‘em they needed it.
And I don’t much care what Kobe, or Shaq, or Phil Mickelson or Derek Jeter say on this one.
At least when it comes to my house, no one, but no one, needs a damn Power Balance sports bracelet.
Go ahead and hang my picture up on the wall in the “Mean Dad Hall of Fame”.
Wait, what’s that you say?
It’s already there?