Männertag. The day that we celebrate our lives as men. Some of us men intend to indulge in drinking to show our manlihood. Others indulge in bike and hike tours with a group of men, talking about everything typical of men, whether it is women and parties or talking about some of the craziest (and sometimes stupidest) things we’ve done as men. It’s a day of friendships and fatherhood, where boys become men, who in turn become fathers. A pair of songs come to mind when we talk about us guys:
While Männertag, is considered the Day of Man and it occurs during the time when another man, known as Jesus Christ, makes his ascension to Heaven to ensure that we stay out of trouble- obvious because he loves watching us like Angels from above and showing the evils that He is to mess with if the vulnerable and poor are threatened without any just cause, Männertag is also considered Father’s Day in Germany. Yet why it occurs on the day of His Ascension, instead of either on a Sunday in June, like in the US or on an international scale, like it is proclaimed on 19 November, remains unclear. Yet one could say that He is the world champion in ensuring that we fathers remain the fathers we are- namely setting examples for their children to follow. Like His teachings to his Disciples and followers, we fathers love to show our sons and daughters what we enjoy doing, which is being ourselves. There are many notable greats who have passed down their expertise and characteristics to their children, so that they can indulge in their fathers’ experiences. Washington Roebling followed John Roebling’s footsteps and became an engineer. He even finished his father’s project with the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883. Albert Speer Junior “restored” his father’s reputation as an architect. Mr. Spock (aka Leonard Nimoy) showed his children, Adam and Julie, the logic of acting and directing during his 40+ years in the business prior to his death this past year. Michael Jordan is blazing a trail in his basketball career for his son to follow. Patricia Hitchcock followed his father’s (Alfred Hitchcock) footsteps in becoming an actress and later curator of her father’s works. Each of us had a father who was a role model and set us on a path for us to follow because he knew that whatever we saw in what he did, we would follow passionately, just like Jesus did with his teachings.
This leads to our Genre of the Week and a poem written by my father, Sam Smith. While his passion of teaching in Academia trumps that of writing, he wrote many works that garnered interest from people on the local level and within his family. This poem he wrote to me when I completed my Master’s studies in Germany in 2008, describing the successes that can only be made if one works at it, no matter on which level. The name of the poem is HORSE, and it is based on a basketball game, where the shooter makes a shot, and his opponents have to mimick that shot, ensuring that the ball falls through the rim and net without missing and receiving a letter. First person who gets all five letters spelled HORSE loses. Last person who did NOT get all the letters wins the game. This was a game that my father and I played when I was a child. The poem, which had to be slightly altered to fit the German format, speaks for itself for it describes how the son enters a new level of play and through his father’s guidance, he can climb his way to the top, even if it takes time and passion to do that. Admittedly, this poem and a couple of his works, were one of the main reasons that I’m a writer, even if it’s a side dish to what my job really is, which is teaching English.
So without further ado, here’s the poem. Think about this, ask how your fathers have set the stage for you to become successful and how you fought to become who you are today…..
I really didn’t want it to go in.
A flat-footed hook shot from 20 feet out
Isn’t exactly high percentage
But I had missed about a dozen
Equally tough shots before that
So I guess it was time.
As the ball sailed through the hoop
With its tattered, rusty chains
I could see the fight go out of you.
You gamely bounced the ball
And tried to duplicate my shot
But it didn’t come close.
“That’s ‘E’. I win!”
“Can we play another, Dad?”
“No, it’s getting dark.”
We walked off the court together.
If only I could say how proud of you I am.
Today we used the 10-foot basket for the first time
And you did just fine.
Had the old man up to ‘S’
But couldn’t put him away.
You’re going to start high school (Gymnasium) this fall,
Leaving behind the grade school (Grundschule)
And its playground with the 8-foot baskets,
The day is coming soon
When I will be the defeated one when we play.
And I wonder what you will be thinking
When you say
“That’s ‘E’. I win!”