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Sun, Sept. 22

Column | The year without a Father’s Day

“This is the time to remember, ‘cause it will not last forever.” – Billy Joel

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend a record $16 billion on Father’s Day this year.

But how many more decades can the necktie-and-hammer gravy train possibly last? My father was almost 35 when he became a father. I was almost 44 when I became a father. Considering recent trends in society, if my son Gideon keeps up the family tradition, will there still even be a Father’s Day when he’s old enough to bask in its glories?

Could he someday face ... The Year Without A Father’s Day? (Please, fellow Baby Boomers, don’t start singing, “I’m Mr. Barcalounger Miser ...”)

Think I’m being overly pessimistic? It’s not just later marriages, infertility problems and intentionally childless couples. Let’s examine some of the other things that could affect the relevance of and respect for fathers in the future.

The time-honored tradition of dispensing World’s Greatest Dad coffee mugs will disintegrate once children figure in the cost of providing “participation” ribbons for the other 72 million dads.

Lucrative sports deals will rob fathers and their kids of priceless backyard bonding moments. (“I’d love to toss around the ol’ pigskin with you for the first time, Daddy – but I’ve already signed with the pros.”)

The tiny house movement will make fathers’ construction of treehouses a lost art. How much courage does it take to hammer together an even tinier house atop a bed of dandelions?

We used to trust our fathers to protect us from harm. As social justice warriors proliferate, there will be no one to chase monsters out from under the bed and send them packing. (“Let’s see about giving them a nice sanctuary closet. Oh, and watch out for monster poop on the sidewalk.”)

Yes, we once trusted that virile dad would willingly throw himself on a grenade to protect us. In coming years, we’ll be more likely to hear a commitment like, “Um, I would be willing to throw myself on a PLASTIC STRAW for you kids and Mom.”

How can you take dad seriously when he growls things like, “Do you kids think I’m made of cryptocurrency?”

I’d like to think there will always be sweet gestures between fathers and their offspring, but it’s more likely there will be disappointing news such as “Sorry. No butterfly kisses. Herbicides got ‘em all. So, instead of joining the Brownie troop, you’ll be joining a class-action lawsuit.”

Father’s Day will lose much of its allure when dad can no longer bail kids out of their childhood financial misfortunes. (“Sure, sport, I’ll buy out your leftover inventory of mud pies and ... Holy trade deficit, Batman! Look at the size of those TARIFFS!”)

Baiting a hook with a plant-based “worm” to catch a plant-based “fish”? Time to put a fork in Father’s Day so its plant-based juices can run out! (“Thinking seriously about putting more money into Millard Fillmore’s Birthday gifts.”)

Maybe, just maybe, Father’s Day will still be a viable holiday when Gideon has children of his own. But all bets are off once we slip the surly bonds of earth and head into space.

As we begin colonizing Mars, traditional dad clothing choices could seriously deplete the dad population. (“Who needs a space suit? My old Def Leppard T-shirt from college has served me well up until ... AIEEEEEE!”)

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