Friday, July 9, 2010

Father's Day

Father’s Day is Maya thumping on the end of the bed at 6:30 in the morning on June 20, and then climbing in without an invitation. After a whisper or two with Verna, Maya said, “Happy Father’s Day, daddy.” It was pretty hard to get upset about having my slumber interrupted after that sweet greeting.

Father’s Day is mountain biking with Miguel. We decided about six weeks ago to hit the twisty trails of Marin County, where mountain biking was born, and bond even further as males. The morning of our first ride I had my weekly phone call with my mother, who lives about 3000 miles away in Connecticut.

“What are your plans for the day?” she asked.

“I’m going mountain biking with Miguel.”

She went on about how he’d gain so much because of my extensive cycling experience. I’ve been a fairly avid road biker since 1994.

“But, Mom,” I said, “I’ve never been mountain biking before.”

“Well, I hope you’re going to wear elbow and knee pads,” she said in true Jewish mother fashion.

Yeah, right, I thought. “No, Mom, I’ll be OK.”


I don’t even own a mountain bike. Our neighbor, Ken, who works tirelessly as a regional manager for Kentucky Fried Chicken, bought a high-end mountain bike a decade ago that he hasn’t ridden in two years. “Borrow it anytime,” he said. “Store it in your garage. No one is using it.”

So Miguel and I unloaded the bikes from our minivan and headed toward one of several China Camp trails, a series of dirt-packed paths along the shore of San Pablo Bay. In deference to my not yet pubescent son, I decided to hang back a bit and not show him up with my superior bike riding skills.

“Where should we go?” he asked.

“Your choice,” I said, not realizing the Frostian option I was offering. I just assumed he would choose the flatter and more popular trail near the parking lot. But he went literally for the trail less traveled and we made a hard right onto a bumpy path with exposed tree roots. He was already well ahead of me and looked quite comfortable.

I felt anything but comfortable as the bike fishtailed around corners and I lurched forward as if I was about to be hurtled into space. The brakes were damn good. I pulled into another switchback turn and lost control of the bike, falling forward into a thicket of poison oak.

“Hey, Miguel,” I shouted. “Hold up, I fell off the bike.”

After chugging uphill for about 20 minutes, one of us (probably me) suggested we turn around and sample the flatter terrain on the populous trail. Much to my slightly battered ego and bruised shins, Miguel agreed.

We finished the ride sweaty and satisfied, each of us having drained our hydration packs of all water. I was completely excited that my teenager to be not only kept up with me (OK, surpassed me), but also enjoyed an athletic experience with his middle-aged father.

“Let’s do this every weekend,” he said as we climbed (OK, I limped) back into the minivan.

Father’s Day is painting Maya’s fingernails and toenails. Maya is our princess and total girlie-girl, who is obsessed, no, enamored with all things princess (Belle, Snow White, Jasmine, Ariel, Aurora, and Cinderella). She loves frilly dresses, necklaces, rings, bracelets, hair bands, and twirling like a ballerina. Last week she asked me to polish her nails right away.

“I’m having a Girl’s Day with Daddy,” she said as I applied bright pink polish. It may have been the fumes, but I wasn’t sure if was going to hug her or cry. Or both.

Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day) is every day. Thanks goodness.