Today is Father's Day, and my imaginary probability calculator tells me that there is a 47.25 percent chance that you haven't bought your dad a Father's Day present yet. The good news is, you still have time. That dude is asleep in the other room and he's not getting up until at least noon, and even then he won't be putting on pants for another hour, which gives you the perfect window to sneak out and grab a supremo gift and act like you had it all along.
But what to buy your dad? If you knew the answer to that question, you wouldn't be in this situation. Don't feel bad, dads are hard to shop for. What do they want? Peace and quiet? Bosley hair transplants? A sandwich?
Dads are varied and complicated. Before you can decide on the perfect gift to buy your father for Father's Day, it is helpful to know what kind of father you have.
Fortunately, the Equal Opportunities Committee published a study that did all of the heavy lifting for us and narrowed down the four main types of dads present in modern society. My purely imaginary probability calculator tells me there is a good chance your dad will fall within one of these four types.
THE ENFORCER DAD. Otherwise known as Original Gangster. Enforcer Dad does not participate in the day-to-day of child care — meaning these old-fashioned dudes weren't changing diapers, making baby bottles or committing their kids' names and birthdays to memory — but they are known for setting strict rules for their children and enforcing them with extreme prejudice. (Hence the name.)
Also known as Scary Dad or Don't Take His Camaro Out for a Joyride Unless You Have a Death Wish Dad, these types of fathers still exist but are no longer considered the norm, as they might have been a generation or two ago — when "Mad Men" was real life.
That being said, every father should have a few Enforcer Dad tricks in his parenting wheelhouse, or he's going to get rolled.
Hot tip: You don't have to actually spank your kids with a belt to give the impression you HAVE THE CAPACITY to spank your kids with a belt, should the punishment fit the crime. Much like you don't have to be an ax murderer to look like an ax murderer — you just have to stop grooming your beard for a month.
Suggestion is powerful. Acting is in the eyes. Perfect your Enforcer Dad glare.
Ideal gift for Enforcer Dad: A hammer.
What the gift says: Hey, Dad, you're tough as nails. Also, I had no idea what to get you and hammers were on sale at the hardware store.
THE ENTERTAINER DAD. Otherwise known as Fun Dad, or Soon To Be Divorced If He Doesn't Pick Up the Slack Dad. You might have an Entertainer Dad if you recognize any of the following lines from your childhood: "Hey kids, let's go eat all the pizza at Chuck E. Cheese and put in on the credit card!"
"What's wrong, Junior, you don't want to clean your room but Mom says you have to? Mom's such a drag! Let's go get ice cream!"
"Hey, I got you kids front row tickets to the Miley Cyrus concert, and this fat bag of medicinal-grade reefer. Let's party and don't tell your mom! Or her lawyer!"
According to the EOC study, a majority of modern dads fall into this or the following dad category. The Entertainer Dad can be a fun guy to have around, until he becomes the Divorced Dad that parties with your friends in college and one night your roommate tells you over a bottle of Boone's Farm that your dad is sexy "in that sad, old man kind of way."
Ideal gift for Entertainer Dad: A tie rack.
What the gift says: Hey, Dad, I had no idea what to get you. You have a bunch of ties, right?
THE USEFUL DAD. According to the EOC, this category comprises the majority of 21st-century fathers, along with the Entertainer Dad. Useful Dad helps out around the house, is involved with the day-to-day functions of child care — but does not take initiative, and primarily follows the mother's lead. To put it in mafioso terms, Useful Dad is less of a consigliere and more of a street soldier.
Useful Dad can be helpful to have around, especially if you need something fixed, or someone driven somewhere. Useful Dad will do it all, but only if he is expressly directed to do so. Useful Dad may enjoy long walks to the gas station by himself, or staring at the wall in dejected silence.
Ideal gift for Useful Dad: Some business socks.
What the gift says: Hey, Dad, here's some socks you can wear for business or for pleasure, because you're the kind of dad who will wear business socks with shorts and not "give a tinkler's fiddle." Whatever that means. I'm not even sure. I've just heard you say it before. Also, I had no idea what to get you.
THE FULLY INVOLVED DAD. Also known as Bigfoot Riding a Unicorn. The Fully Involved Dad does it all — child care, housework, pants wearing, non-pants wearing, discipline, stand-up comedy, balloon animals — and has eschewed all of the old notions about gender roles in marriage and parenting.
Ideal gift for the Fully Involved Dad: A package of undershirts.
What the gift says: Happy Father's Day. You'll probably wear these at some point. I had no idea what to get you.
Ryan Jackson is a certified dad, and he wouldn't even begin to know what to get himself for Father's Day. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.