Single White Nerd: American Dadiators, All Hail!
Today, a post-Father’s Day meditation on manhood. Ahem. There’s nothing more manly than a dude pushing his baby around in a stroller. This has nothing to do with his willingness to take responsibility for rearing his child. Nor is it related to his efforts to give his wife a few moments of peace, the chance to take a bubble bath, or have lady time. No. The manliness manifests not in the act of pushing the stroller, but in the moment when one dude and his stroller comes face to face with another dude pushing a stroller. You’ve probably seen it happen:
The men approach each other, sizing each other up as their baby buggies bounce toward each other. Their eyes narrow and shoulders hunch forward as if preparing for combat. They bare their teeth at each other in what could either be smiles or snarls. “So,” one of these noble dads may say, “Whatcha drivin’ there?” Sure, it may seem like a civil interaction. But beneath the veneer of brotherhood, primitive raw competitive instincts scream to be set free, to vie against each other on the fields of war. This phenomenon is well documented. So much so, in fact, that some friends of mine wrote a song about it:
Now, I’m all for a good, hard rockin’ video. But what if these men had an outlet for their manly instincts that went beyond singing and jumping up and down? What if there were, say, a forum in which they could compete for glory and riches while still nominally caring for their child? And what if this forum were a reality show?
Those questions lead me to my latest money making scheme: AMERICAN DADIATORS.
It’s American Gladiator with dads and their babies. A muscle-bound gladiator has kidnapped your child. To rescue her or him, the Dads must run a gauntlet, have tennis balls hurled in their direction at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, leap over live crocodiles. Whatever the task, the Dads are up for it. If they fail, they lose face, their pride will never recover, their wives will never look at them with respect and adoration again. But they won’t fail. Because they’re fathers and fathers can leap tall buildings in a single bound to protect their families. Especially if the buildings are made out of foam bricks and the fathers are attached to a bungee cord.
Of course, there are specifically dadly tasks. Diaper changing. One handed. With a blindfold. Speed swaddling while tongues of flame shoot overhead. Prizes range from a year of free diapers (which, I hear, are pricey) or baby food, scholarships for the babies, access to an exclusive baby sitter network. The auditions weed out deadbeat dads and dads who are in it just for the glory. A true American Dadiator balances paternal instincts with gladiatorial gusto.
Who would watch this carnival of competition, you ask. Well, I say, who wouldn’t? You satisfy the viewers’ bloodlust (simulated, of course) and their desire to watch cute babies burbling. Imagine this: The segment begins with two men, drenched in sweat, slingshotting diapers at each other across battle trenches (sponsored by Gerber). From time to time, we cut to their babies, smiling toothlessly and wiggling with joy as their Dads give free reign to their hunter-gatherer impulses. Maybe the occasional shot of a wife and mother looking on with pride. The judges can be child-rearing experts who weigh in with profound comments about attachment theory and modeling appropriate behavior. It’s fun and education for the whole family!
I don’t have kids of my own (which is probably for the best), so I have plenty of time to work on making this vision a reality. In the meantime, a deep bow and tip of the cap to all the dads out there. Y’all have a heckuva job to do. But you can do it. I know you can. And even if this reality show never gets off the ground, I hope that you’ll take a moment to salute yourselves. American Dadiators, all hail!