Why is everyone picking on Dad?

There’s a relatively new term I’ve been hearing lately. It’s called a “Dad Bod.” Basically, it’s a phrase ridiculing men whose bodies have, shall we say, deteriorated from a former state. There might be love handles, pot bellies, man boobs or skinny legs. Even imagining such a guy is enough to send the ladies screaming.

In fact, the Urban Dictionary defines the term “dad bod” as “A guy who has kids and was once in shape and still has guns that can crush beer cans but also with a belly that says I drank those beers and I can eat 6 slices of pizza in one sitting.”

Before anyone laughs too hard — especially my kids — might I remind him or her that the only men with “Dad Bods” are actually dads?

It’s not a “Dad Bod.” It’s a “Father Figure.”

The same goes for moms, too. I’ve heard younger girls laughing about a mom’s one-piece bathing suit.

Those stretch marks/badges of honor are the reason you’re here, punk. Your mom would be rockin’ a bikini — like she did when she was your age — if it weren’t for you. All that dancing around inside the womb put some dents in the walls.

And why do we fathers have dad bods?

Because we have kids.

Way back in the 1980s B.C. (before children), I was in pretty good shape. No. I was buff. When I wasn’t working out as part of my job as a Marine, I was in a gym somewhere. I had biceps. I had pecs. I had real abs. I ran distances and climbed mountains, so I had rock-solid legs. I had a real tan, and not the golfer’s/farmer’s tan I sport today.

I also had time to work on my body. Lots of time. Hours and hours in a weight room.

Then came kids, and the little snots required constant attention. There went my gym time. Over the years, my workouts disappeared, right along with my biceps, pecs and abs. I was already in the formative stages of my dad bod before I was 40 years old. Today, I have the body of a god.


Yeah, kid. It’s your fault.

There’s also a website devoted to dad jokes. Every joke listed is corny, and the responses to those jokes are about what one would expect from the younger generation. They make fun of dads for being so ridiculous.

You want jokes? Child, please. I spent a career in the Marine Corps. I’ve got jokes that would melt your earwax. You think I’m gonna tell ’em to my kids? Heck naw. I have to find replacement jokes. Clean ones. Yes, corny ones.

“What do you call a fly with no wings?” A walk.

“What’s the last thing that goes through a bug’s mind when it hits your windshield?” Its butt.

“I used to be addicted to the Hokey Pokey, but I turned myself around.”

“You know why they bury people in wooden coffins?” Why? “’Cause they’re dead.”

“What do you call a fish with no eyes?” What? “A fsshhh.”

Why do we dads tell such corny jokes? Basically, my inner comedian won’t let me go full-Richard Pryor in front of children, so you kids get the corny version. And hey, admit it. You laughed. That was the point.

It’s sad that our kids never knew us when we were younger. They wouldn’t have recognized either Mom or Dad. They have no idea how cool we were before they got here. We can show them pictures, and they’ll swear we Photoshopped ourselves into someone cool. No way we were ever young, even back then.

Back before they proceeded to strip us of all our coolness.

They can’t comprehend how we parents gave up any chance we ever had of owning cool stuff once our brats hit the planet screaming. We traded our dreams of driving a Harley for a captain’s chair in a minivan. Spent the money we’d have used on a gym membership for dance and gymnastics lessons (not ours). Put aside the money we’d have spent clubbing — where we learned most of our best dirty jokes — to buy dumb stuff like food and clothes for our kids.

One friend of mine spent years saving up for a boat he’d dreamed of owning. Right about the time he had all the money together, both his teenage daughters learned they’d need braces. Guess how much those braces cost?

Exactly the same amount as his boat.

He paid for the braces. I bet they still roll their eyes at his corny jokes.

About 15 years ago, I had a shot at becoming a sports editor for a newspaper in a city near the ocean. I’d cover sports for a living while living on the beach. A guy’s dream.

The problem? The job paid considerably less than my job as a teacher. I’d take a massive pay cut, but … sports … beach.

I declined the offer. I had kids, and kids are expensive.

Here’s my dream (open left hand), and here are my kids (make a fist). Now pound that fist into those shattered dreams.

Yes, we dads lost all our cool when our kids dropped the Mother of All Bombs — Responsibility — right on top of our man caves. Our options were limited: be the providers we’re supposed to be as fathers, meaning we’d give up a lot of our own dreams; or do our own thing, and let the kids fend for themselves.

It’s a tradeoff for sure.

The best parents I know want more than anything to see their children grow up healthy and happy. That’s not easy in today’s world. More than just money, it takes a ton of time. Those dads working extra hours and driving even more of them so their kids can play sports or participate in extracurricular activities. Fathers so focused on giving their kids everything they forget to do anything for themselves. Men so bent on ensuring their kids have an easier life than they did pushing themselves for years to ensure their sons and daughters have everything they need and most of what they want.

 Does it sound like those men have time to buff up?

But what do we get back from this trade? And is it worth watching our bodies — and dreams — shrivel up and waste away?

I can’t speak for every dad, but my answer is, “Yes, it’s been worth it.”

Our kids are healthy and happy. They have better lives than I did at their age. They don’t have every single thing they want, but they’re not in need of anything. That’s one reward we parents get … eventually.

The other, bigger reward is as corny as any of my jokes. It’s just plain love. Tons of it. Our grown kids go out of their way to keep in contact with us, whether it’s daily phone calls and/or text messages or frequent visits. They actually want to spend time with me. They could be out clubbing and learning better jokes, or they could be spending hours in a gym somewhere. Instead, they’re spending time with me.

When they’re here, they spoil me. They make or buy me dinner. They make sure there’s no chance of my dad bod disappearing.

They’re doing for me what I always wanted to do for them.

Kind of gives a new meaning to the term “love handles,” now, doesn’t it?

“I’m hungry.” Hi, Hungry. I’m Dad.

Happy Father’s Day, guys.