I was half an hour early for the opening of the supermarket. I decided to kill time by reading the book I bought the day prior. I chose to sit for a while in the only open establishment near the supermarket, a coffeeshop.
Shopgirl: Good morning, sir!
Me: Good morning. I’ll have a ham and cheese croissant and…
Shopboy: Good morning sir. (Takes over the cashier from Shopgirl).
Me: (looks at the menu board) I’ll have a tall iced tea.
Shopboy: Okay sir. How are you, sir?
Me: I’m great.
Shopboy: Oh, Happy Father’s Day nga po pala! (Happy Father’s Day, by the way)
(Tense, awkward millisecond)
Me: Ah no… (with a tiny hand-wave-shuffle gesture)
Shopboy: Ah hindi pa po pala. (Turns around, fixes the drink, sets it on the tray). That will be 175 pesos. (I hand him my payment) Your change, sir. (Turns around to get the croissant and sets it on the tray). Thank you, sir!
Me: Thank you.
I was a bit stunned. It was the first time I was greeted Happy Father’s Day. It caught me off guard; it sure seemed that way, too, for dear Shopboy.
I read my book, ate breakfast, then went to get groceries. But as I was driving home I began to wonder, as that Father’s Day mis-greeting set in- why did Shopboy give me the Father’s Day greeting? It’s not as if “Happy Father’s Day!” is like “Merry Christmas” that you can wish on anybody and everybody…
Maybe I “look” it. But what does “looking like a dad mean?” Maybe its my, um, rotund, horizontally-challenged physique. The beer belly is often a telltale sign of fatherhood- or a drinking problem.
Maybe it was my rather thick wallet. Daddies usually are loaded. Especially sugar daddies (or so do the girls think). Too bad the only things thickening my wallet are ATM balance inquiry receipts. I check my ATM daily in the hope that a miracle will happen and money will magically appear in my account even if I don’t deposit.
Or maybe he saw my rather lengthy grocery list. From where he was standing, it sure appeared that I was shopping for a family of four. For the record, I am single, I live alone, and the lengthy grocery list explains my rotund shape.
I still wonder. I don’t have the gall to ask him though; he looked pretty embarrassed already as soon as he realized how inappropriate his greeting was. I know I was, oddly enough.
Let me make this clear first: I was not, and am not offended by the Father's Day greeting. I’m just wondering what signal I emitted, what sign was flashing, what tarpaulin signage prompted him to greet me Happy Father’s Day.
Maybe it was the little boy holding my hand that kept jabbering, “Daddy! Espresso, Daddy!” that gave him a hint.
I kid (pardon the pun), of course.
It was the baby I was cradling in my arms that may have sealed the deal.
Or the vomit trail in front of my shirt.
Or the “I am the best dad” cap I was wearing.
But I digress.
Hmmm Maybe my “I am a father” aura is the reason why I am still single. Maybe that’s why some dates don’t go beyond the first one; dates tend to be turned off by someone who has a “baggage” already (“sabit” in local parlance). Or by someone who doesn’t pay his share of the bill. (YOU invited me out, remember?)
I jest, of course.
What makes a mere man a father is not his round belly but his rotund heart. A heart that can equally love each kid and his spouse: each gets 100% of his love.
What makes an ordinary guy a daddy isn’t his loaded wallet but his thick face and calloused hands. He ably defends his kids from any bully, whether it’s their classmate or their officemates and/or boss/es. He works hard… for the money… so hard for it honey… he works hard for the money… so he can treat them right… in Jollibee, Saisaki, Hooters, etc
What makes a chap a pop is the length of his patience. He deals a mature, loving answer to each inquiry, as if his kid’s life depended on it. The endless stream of “Why…?” a toddler asks is met with an uncomplaining, gentle, (usually) logical “Because…” Each tantrum, each fit, each outburst, each whim (or most whims… or many whims) is analyzed… understood… and met with a firm, soothing, caring, “No” or “Yes” whichever is applicable.
I have long maintained that I am not "father-material." Whenever I say this to colleagues, they always say that I am just saying that, that when it/she/he is there already, the “paternal” instincts will kick in. Maybe. I dread being a dad; I fear I’d be too permissive or I’d be too O-C. Or maybe I’d be a cool dad. Maybe.
So, maybe the Shopboy's greeting was really meant for me, an advanced greeting of sorts. A premonition. Then again, maybe by greeting me a Happy Father’s Day today- he jinxed it. *gasp*
One thing that I am certain is my gratitude to God for creating my father and that he’s given to me, and I to him. My father is not perfect but he’s perfectly imperfect. He fueled my zest for travel and for medicine. He showed me how to treat women correctly by taking care of my sister and my mom the best way he can. He bestowed on me the gene for wit and humor. He firmly imprinted on me the truth that real men can and must pray.
Happy Father’s Day, Pop. Enjoy Niagara Falls with Mom =]
Come a future third Sunday of June, somebody will wish me a Happy Father’s Day, and I’d smile and thank him or her, because by then the greeting would have been appropriate. Maybe.