Dad’s In The Cradle

There’s been a lot of talk about which Super Bowl commercial was the worst.  The competition was pretty stiff this year.  Was it the Nationwide ad where a little boy turns out to be dead?  Or the creepy one with Jeff Bridges in a couple’s bedroom?  Or one of the many commercials that were supposed to be funny but were complete duds instead?

To me, the worst commercial was the Nissan ad where a race-car driver has a son, is an absentee Dad who ignores and repeatedly disappoints his kid, and then tries to make up for it by giving the kid a new car.  In short, you can cure your crappy performance in the fatherhood department if you just shell out enough for a really neat car!  Hard to believe that even a car manufacturer would think that message would promote car sales.

But this commercial wasn’t bad just because it made me kind of embarrassed to be a Dad, either.  I really hated it because the soundtrack was Harry Chapin’s awful Cat’s In The Cradle song, which has to be one of the worst and most depressing songs ever recorded — and not just because Harry Chapin really couldn’t sing a note.  It’s a trite message about a Dad who works his life away rather than playing ball with his kid.  Because he wasn’t playing catch with his son, his priorities obviously were misplaced.  Who cares if the overworked Dad has to labor those long hours because he’s trying to put food on the table, buy clothes for his family, and send his kids to college.  But those are the kind of real world nuances that the sledgehammer subtlety of Cat’s In The Cradle just couldn’t capture.

These days, Dads usually aren’t cast in a very favorable light, and the Nissan ad is just the latest in a long line of Dad dissings.  I’m tired of it.  The ad agency that came up with that effort should be sentenced to listening to Cat’s In The Cradle for a solid week.



We’re having work done on our new place that’s brought us into contact with some of the skilled tradesmen of America — a painter, a floor refinishing crew, and, thanks to a mix-up by Columbia Gas, a furnace technician and gas company employee.

IMG_4722I refer to “skilled tradesmen” because it’s impossible not to be impressed by the skills these artisans possess.  It started with our painter, who asked thoughtful questions to make sure he knew what we wanted, gave us solid deadlines and worked weekends to meet them, meticulously applied his painter’s tape to avoid drips and smears and used different brushes from his extensive collection as the work required, and finished on time and on budget.  It was obvious that he cared about the quality of his work.

The same has been true of the flooring guys, who’ve repaired some sections of hardwood floor, diligently taped off vents and cabinets to avoid dust issues, and painstakingly ground off the cover coat on the original hardwood floor without marring doors or baseboards.  Even the furnace technician and gas company worker who came to address our gas problem, on Super Sunday, were unfailingly courteous, competent, and professional as they used their inexplicable equipment and performed their inexplicable tests to first determine that the gas had been erroneously shut off and then get it flowing again.

It’s nice to know that there are still capable craftsmen out there who take pride in a job well done and the results they can produce.