Dear Phil Dunphy:
Happy early Father’s Day. You deserve a week.
Seriously: Almost every Wednesday night for the past two years, my modern family, like so many modern families, has gathered ‘round the high-def hearth to watch you on ABC’s “Modern Family.” It brings us together for 30 minutes; we dig it for the laughs and spot-on commentaries on the free-fall of love and marriage and multiple baby carriages, but I confess it’s you that keeps me, a father of two and husband of one, coming back.
Dude, you’re my guy. Not because your wife Claire is a lovable control freak dish that reminds me of some of my closest acquaintances, or your kids are smart and real and funny, or your Colombian crush Gloria represents every married man’s within-your-reach fantasy, or because, like TV dads of yore Ward Cleaver, Cliff Huxtable, and Homer Simpson, you’re a dad of your times, which at the moment means you’re part metrosexual, part stoner, part technonerd, and all kid.
Remember when Claire said you were hard to buy for and you listed a bunch of things you’ve always wanted, including “speakers that look like rocks?”
Or the time you said, “The iPad comes out on my actual birthday. It’s like Steve Jobs and God got together to say, ‘We love you, Phil.’”
Or when you bragged, “I am brave. Roller coasters? Love ‘em. Scary movies? I’ve seen ‘Ghostbusters,’ like, seven times. I regularly drive through neighborhoods that have only recently been gentrified. So yeah, I’m pretty much not afraid of anything. Except clowns.”
That was awesome.
Dude, you are a true innocent! The world is your man cave! Your enthusiasm, optimism, and unbridled lust for life gives all us dads permission to be what we really want to be — big kids. And to say exactly what’s on our mind. For example, on Jan. 12, when President Obama addressed the nation at the memorial service for the Tucson murder victims, he reminded us all about how important it is to love one another, especially our kids.
Mere moments after those poignant remarks, much of the nation turned the channel to find you and Claire arguing about which movie you guys were going to see. When Claire reminded you that you had to get home to the kids, you said, “Sometimes I hate the kids.”
Yes! Thank you! Same! (I wonder if Barack and Michelle ever say as much). I, too, have almost been driven to duct-tape a computer shut in my own home. I, too, have employed quasi-fiendish tactics in order to outwit teens and pre-teens. I, too, have been outsmarted by the entire family and been made to feel like you do when you don’t get the props you deserve for being an amazing cheerleader and real estate shark.
And when times get really tough, I turn to the tao of you and your words:
“I always felt bad for people with emotionally distant fathers; it turns out I’m one of them. It’s a miracle I didn’t end up a stripper.”
“I’m cool dad, that’s my thang. I’m hip, I surf the web, I text. LOL: laugh out loud, OMG: oh my god, WTF: why the face.”
“Claire likes to say you can be part of the solution or part of the problem. I happen to believe you can be both.”
“Let’s show these guys what team they’re about to beat.”
“You know what’s really sad? The end of ‘Titanic.’”
Haley: “Dad, that was a stop sign.”
Phil: “I’ll stop twice on the way back.”
“I’m sorry I fell asleep while you were describing the most boring party ever.”
“While Claire watched one of the most highly-acclaimed films of the year, I sat through a badly made schlock-fest, with absolutely no redeeming value — and it was awesome!”
“Why do I have to watch a French movie? I didn’t do anything wrong.”
[To Luke] “’Luke, I am your father.’ That’s what I said to you as you were coming out of your mom’s lady parts.”
“I had plenty of fun in my time. Then, I met your mom.”
[To Claire]: “I love it when you’re human.”
“Ordinarily I’m a rule follower, but when someone tells me I can’t bring my own snacks into their stadium? That’s when I get a little … nuts. It’s a free country right? Let’s just say it Ruffles me when some Goobers tell me I have to spend half my PayDay on their hot dogs.”
Anyway, thanks. Summer is finally here, and “Modern Family” is on hiatus. We the fathers of America especially will miss you, but we all look forward to you coming back to show us the way.
As only a man who cites Spandau Ballet as his favorite band can.
Jim Walsh lives and grew up in East Harriet.