Meeting minutes: ‘Dead Father’s Club’ subcommittee discusses the lighter side of ‘Father’s Day Brunch’ ads

My sister and I were in our teens when we became members of a group I have come to refer to as “The Dead Father’s Club.”

It’s one that few people join voluntarily, though there are exceptions (I’m talking to you, Lizzie Borden and Brian Blackwell).

Among its current members are my children, their (step)siblings (who have joined twice – Ex married a widow) and, this year, some new members – my friend Andy and Ex’s sister, whose fathers died in the past year.

When Dad was alive, Debby and I often bought him ties for Father’s Day. Not terribly original, but we were kids. And ties (clip-on only) were one of his wardrobe staples. For years after he died, Father’s Day was pretty much a non-event.

Young father and baby
Me & Dad, before I was old enough to buy him Father’s Day ties by myself.

In the ensuing years, our Father’s Day observances have been fluid. We have both had children and, in my case, multiple fathers-in-law. I was also lucky to acquire an older cousin who became the father of my adult life sometime after we met (in 1988) and before his death in 2005.

My children’s father died in 2007 and his father – one of my two fathers-in-law – died in December (see “Death at Christmas”).

Still, even when you don’t have a father, Father’s Day is a time when you might be reminded about what you’re missing. Two days ago, I got the following e-mail from my sister. She sent it to me and my middle daughter.

“I’m just wondering if either of you would have had a strong reaction to this email? I read it and thought, “Well, I don’t have a father, so none of this really applies to me,” but it didn’t get me all up in arms, perhaps because I had other things on my mind and wasn’t feeling particularly offended. But today we received another email from the Faculty Club, which leads me to believe that some folks were REALLY offended. Anyway, read this one, and I’ll append the latest one to the bottom, for chronology’s sake. But I really want to know your opinions…”

The Potentially Offending Email:

From: (manager@nooffenseintended.ca)
Date: Mon, Jun 15, 2015 at 4:51 PM
Subject: The Faculty Club June 20, 2015
To: “Brother-in-law” <555-1212@notimeforindignance.com>

Good afternoon Prof. Brother-in-law,

Does your Father already have all of the ties that he could ever possibly need?
Is sleeping in over-rated?
Does he enjoy an exceptionally well prepared meal?

Then why not treat him to an exclusive Father’s Day Brunch or Evening Buffetat the Faculty Club at the University of (City Above the 48th Parallel)?
He will relish the wide selection of entrees masterfully prepared by our Executive Chef and deserts (sic) crafted by our Pastry Chef. Kids will love the chocolate fountain and those aged 10 and under dine free of charge.
Your table is waiting!
Make your reservation at 780-555-4231, but hurry as seating times are filling.
Have a great day!

Best regards,

“Guy *WPHAF”
Manager
The Faculty Club
University of (City Above the 48th Parallel)
Address
Telephone
Fax
http://www.uofcityabovethe48thparallel.ca

*(who probably has a father)

The follow-up e-mail:

Dear valued member of the Faculty Club,

I am writing to you to apologize for the recent email sent from the club soliciting our Father’s Day celebration. Although the email was meant to be on the light side, we realized that we unintentionally offended many of you by the way it was written.

Please accept our apologies. Your continued support for the club is much appreciated.

Aaron Aaron
President
Faculty Club, University of City Above the 48th Parallel

My fatherless daughter wrote this: “Seems fine to me – no different than a radio advertisement.

My gut reaction was a “same here,” referring to Alex’s comment about it being no different than a radio ad and seeming fine.

But it did get me thinking about the line between advertising a service to people who might want it (in this case, the ability to tangibly acknowledge an important relationship) and possibly offending people who have no need for that service. Did it matter if people could feel left out and, consequently, offended? And if the answer was yes, might there have been a way for the Faculty Club to balance that somehow?

In my response to Debby & Alex, I took a stab at addressing those questions.

“Same here. I mean, I don’t think it would have worked if they’d put (unless he’s dead in which case we’re terribly sorry for your loss)….wait. Let’s try it!

“Good afternoon Prof. Brother-in-Law,

Does your Father already have all of the ties that he could ever possibly need? (Unless he’s dead or you are estranged, in which case we’re terribly sorry for your loss.)

Is sleeping in over-rated? (If he isn’t dead or estranged, that is – and if so, we’re terribly sorry about it.)

Does he enjoy an exceptionally well prepared meal? (If he’s alive and you’re not estranged, and if either of those is the case, we’re terribly sorry.)

Then (assuming he’s not dead and you are not estranged – and again, we are very sorry if that is so) why not treat him to an exclusive Father’s Day Brunch or Evening Buffet at the Faculty Club at the University of (City Above the 48th Parallel)?

He will (if he’s alive and you’re speaking) relish the wide selection of entrees masterfully prepared by our Executive Chef (and if he’s not alive and you’re not speaking, we are so terribly sorry for your loss) and deserts (what father, alive, dead or estranged doesn’t like “deserts,” I ask you) crafted by our Pastry Chef. Kids (assuming you have them and you are not estranged from them and they are not dead and if either of those things are true we are so sorry to have caused you additional pain) will love the chocolate fountain
and those aged 10 and under dine free of charge (see previous parenthetical statement).

Your table is waiting!

Make your reservation at 780-555-4231, but hurry as seating times are filling.

Have a great day!

No. That probably wouldn’t work.” 

In retrospect, I realize there are plenty of other scenarios in which there might be no reason for one to observe Father’s Day by taking Dad out for a shi-shi meal (you have two mothers, your father is in prison, your father is in a nursing home and/or otherwise non-functional), but I was in a hurry. So I only hit on a couple of the high notes. Feel free to weigh in with your ideas and/or opinions.

Regardless of whether today is a non-event or you have some sort of father or father figure in your life, here’s hoping you enjoy it. Later today, Sweetheart and I are going to spend some time with Sweetheart Senior, one of the more remarkable fathers roaming the planet. And as to why this is my first post in a month, it’s been eventful around here.

Feels good to be back.

5 thoughts on “Meeting minutes: ‘Dead Father’s Club’ subcommittee discusses the lighter side of ‘Father’s Day Brunch’ ads

  1. I’ve been missing life in the factory. Happy to see you back again. As for the Father’s Day rif, which is delightful, you oughta give Mother’s Day a try when you’re not a mother. (No. You really hadn’t oughta.) M.D. is cookie sheet sweet, pastel, ribbons and flowers, and you’d think the only women in the world worth their weight are moms. Add the assumption that if you don’t have kids, it was because you thought you were too good to change diapers. This comes out sounding like, “I didn’t think I wanted kids either and then Eli was born and …” Translated: “Look what your selfishness cost you.”

    Okay, buff of that. I hope you are winding up for the retreat in Sept

    Like

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