Eyes right! Dads salute. Phalanxes of dads, good dads, bad dads, adequate dads, self-conscious dads, all marching smartly down the Champs Elysees in the traditional Ban-Lon golf shirt and matching slacks. And who are these champs Eli sees? Famous dads like the prophet Abraham. (That thing with Isaac? That's some serious cojones.) And give it up for William "Ever Heard of a Cutting Board?" Tell. Each champ is riding in a separate shiny convertible. Atticus Finch tosses fistfuls of pecan pralines to the scrambling kids. There's Jim "Father Knows Best" Anderson and Ward Cleaver waving from the back seat of a vintage '58 Plymouth Belvedere with tailfins. There's my dad, driving the old '54 Pontiac, looking tender and tired. And there is me, somewhere in the back, atop an elephant. "How'm I doing?" I yell to the onlookers, trying for a little Ed Koch folksiness. Laughter at some ironic response from the elephant. A street sweeper follows.
It was the Strawberry Festival at Russell Orchards in Ipswich, Mass. I drove up with Charlie, my father-in-law, and his friend Joan. Originally it was supposed to include Carol and Matt, but they were pinned down with schoolwork. So the dads went unescorted by their progeny. Lunch consisted of strawberry shortcake (it's all about the biscuit), cider donuts, and cheese and crackers from the wine-tasting. Music, as usual, was delivered by the local north-shore bluegrass band, Old Cold Tater. Charlie defied (or honored) his 88 years by picking strawberries out in the fields. I strolled down to see the ponies, goats, chickens, and guineafowl. Joan read a magazine and listened to the bluegrass. Children got their faces painted ("Meow, meow," sang a little girl cat) and batted their fathers with balloon animals and balloon flowers. I bought a Russell Orchards cap, a cider, three donuts, and two quarts of strawberries someone else had picked. Charlie came back on the hay wagon with four quarts of strawberries picked by himself. Joan bought a loaf of bread. We headed home, reasonably satisfied.