P.C.Pop with Pablo

Father’s Day – I (still) Ain’t That Guy!

In father's day, fatherhood, Malavenda, Men, Pablo Malavenda, parenting on June 14, 2014 at 11:34 pm


You’re family’s weird — we overheard our son’s best friend say to him on speaker phone. What do you mean? Max asked. Well, his friend said, your dad is baking for church and your mom is outside cutting the lawn. Max then replied — yeah, my family breaks all the stereotypes.

Only two days ago, when I was explaining to a friend that I was having the hardest time finding anyone to fix the concrete steps at my church — she  replied — just do it yourself. My response was — you obviously don’t know me. I am handy around the house and all — but install a set of concrete steps — are you kidding?

Then there is the media and memes and greeting cards — I ain’t that guy!!

Greeting cards in general reinforce many negative stereotypes about men, women, and several other historically oppressed peoples. We may have come a long way from the racial and ethnic stereotypes in mainstream cards but problems still exist. As a feminist and a father of a daughter, I am aware of the role of women and girls in greeting cards as well as the images, colors, and characters used for girls versus boys. It starts with from conception with Baby Congratulations cards and continues on through Father’s Day and Mother’s Day cards, Anniversary cards, and general Birthday cards. Our best friend and his wife just welcomed a new baby girl, and we could only find a Minnie Mouse congratulations card – no Mickey – and of course it was pink. (There was a Mickey Mouse card but it was for a new born boy and it was blue).

Personally, there are two times a year I dread going shopping for greeting cards. One is my wedding anniversary and the other is for Mother’s Day. I also get frustrated during Father’s Day by all of the marketing and sales. It’s a great time to buy power tools, a lawn mower, a grill, golf clubs, hunting gear – because it is all on sale – for Fathers – but I Ain’t That Guy. My frustration stems from the fact that I was raised as a progressive, Mediterranean-American male – who does NOT fit any of the stereotypes of the typical man as defined by the greeting card industry or by any marketing that is gender-based.

Standing in the card store in front of the rack filled with greeting cards, I momentarily feel inadequate, left out, odd, and less than a man. I don’t golf, fish, drink beer, or demand dinner when I get home from a long day in the office. I DO cook and bake well; I work around the house; I respect my life partner (and still love her a lot); I love being a dad; I do laundry, iron, and put away clothes; I fill and empty the sink and dishwasher; I dress myself and do it pretty well; and I put the toilet seat back down. Eventually I realize that I am very, very OK with NOT being the “guy” in the Father’s Day, Mother’s Day or Wedding Anniversary cards. After a few minutes of browsing cards in our local greeting card store and online, I noticed some themes.

The message I saw is that Real Fathers:

  • Eat Beef not veggies
  • Don’t Cook – unless it is an Outdoor Grill or Deep Fried Turkey
  • Sit in Recliners
  • Sleep in Hammocks
  • Try to get out of doing Chores
  • Golf
  • Fish
  • Drink Beer
  • Leave the toilet seat up
  • Won’t Change a Diaper
  • Can’t Dress Themselves
  • Aren’t Romantic
  • Don’t Bake – unless you count pancakes from a mix
  • Demand Dinner after a long, hard day at work
  • Are Lazy, unorganized
  • Love cars (over human life partners)
  • Burp, Fart, Spend a lot of time in the bathroom, Snore
  • Lounge in underwear
  • Have bad tempers – Yell at their wives
  • Are not affectionate — don’t kiss, hold hands, hug
  • Love Bacon
  • Leer at young women in bikinis
  • Have a mustache
  • Need more tools
  • Smoke a pipe
  • Shoot guns
  • Insult their wives – joke about their weight, hair, looks, gray hair, cooking, etc.
  • Are mostly white, stupid, and straight

1963ish1 (2)My male role models in my family were studs – but they were respectful of their partners; they were romantic; could cook and did often; and dressed very well. They hugged and kissed their kids every day, said I love you to their wives, and went shopping, did laundry, and made dinner. Of course roles in relationships were different in the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s – but I am a combination of their great traits and the expectations of modern times. Why then do the greeting card writers and marketing gurus still perpetuate these archaic, primitive, unenlightened behaviors featuring beer loving, Neanderthals, sloths, chauvinists who can’t cook and prefer hunting and fishing and golfing more than being with their family?

So what’s up? I doubt if the only Father who doesn’t fit their mold is me. I am sure there are other Fathers, perhaps the majority of Fathers, who can’t relate to the males depicted in these greeting cards. In such a competitive, commercial, and capitalistic industry – if it didn’t sell, they wouldn’t keep making them. So, who are these guys? – And who’s buying these cards? Are we just so lazy that we can do nothing more than laugh at the negative stereotypes of Dads? – No matter how offensive it is to both men and women. Are we not protesting enough to see a more aggressive movement to influence change with the current messages in greeting cards – and the negative stereotypes that they are reinforcing? Or it is that I – once again – am the only one who cares? (Probably not.)

So, now I must go and bake for the church brunch, hug my wife, do the laundry, drive my son to cross country practice, call my mom, text my wife that “she’s beautiful and I miss her,” sew my daughter’s shirt, tutor my kids in math, go grocery shopping, and get dinner ready for the family.

This is what this Father is doing – so, call us weird — but there are NO complaints here — because I’ve got the BEST job in the entire world!


Read more stories about growing up in my family and our traditions, check out these PC Pop posts:

Flat Stanley travels to Indiana

In Books, Children, Children's Literature, Comic Books, Education, Family, History, Lafayette Indiana, Literacy Month, Malavenda, NEA, NPR, Pablo Malavenda, Purdue, Reading Across America, Story Book Leadership, WBAA on June 1, 2014 at 1:26 am

Dear Mrs. Egan’s Second Grade Class,

Thank you for sending Flat Stanley to visit me in Indiana. Flat Stanley and I have had a great time going to many of my favorite places in my hometown of West Lafayette as well as Lafayette and Battle Ground, Indiana.

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First, I gave Flat Stanley a tour of our neighborhood, which is called Hadley Moors. It’s named after Hadley Lake which is near our house. Next, I brought Flat Stanley to see one of the many corn and soybean fields in Indiana. Indiana corn and soybeans are used all over the world for lots of foods like popcorn, tofu, corn syrup, soy milk, and even ethanol gas for your cars.

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In addition to corn, Indiana is known as the “Crossroad of America” for many reasons including having lots of trains going through here. Flat Stanley and I are pictured on a bridge above the Four Corners Depot along the Wabash River in Downtown Lafayette.

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I then took Flat Stanley to school with me. I am a freshman at William Henry Harrison High School in West Lafayette. Besides my classes, my favorite activity at school is band. This year I played alto-saxophone in the marching band, the pep band and the jazz band. I also am on the cross country team.

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My high school is named after President William Henry Harrison. President Harrison was from Indiana; and as the Governor of the Indiana territory, he led the Battle of Tippecanoe.

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The Battle of Tippecanoe is one of the most important battles in the history of our country – and it took place in 1811 (over 200 years ago) in the next town over from me – Battle Ground, Indiana.

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Battle Ground is named for the site of this battle – the site of the battle is now a Registered National Landmark, with a statue of William Henry Harrison (see us below).

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Today, the Battle Field Park is a fun place to go to learn about the Battle of Tippecanoe and to hike on the trails along the river — but it also has lots of festivals throughout the summer. Two of my favorites are the annual Indiana Fiddlers’ Gathering (music festival) and the Steam and Gas Power Show.

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The battle took place near the Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers.

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Our county is now named Tippecanoe; and the Wabash River separates our two cities – West Lafayette and Lafayette.

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The Wabash River flows right into the Mississippi River. There are several trails and bridges that go along and over the Wabash River. Flat Stanley and I explored a few different parts of the Wabash River during his stay.

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Downtown Lafayette is a fun place to visit. Today Flat Stanley and I attended the “’Round the Fountain” Art Fair and the Farmer’s Market.

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The county courthouse for Tippecanoe County is in Lafayette, Indiana on the other side of the Wabash River.

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Above is a picture of Flat Stanley and me with the Tippecanoe County Courthouse in the background. On top of the courthouse dome is a 14 foot statue representing “Liberty.” In December the dome is filled with lights for the holidays.

Lafayette and West Lafayette were named after Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, who was a famous French General who helped President George Washington in the Revolutionary War.

Here is Flat Stanley with me at the courthouse fountain with a statue of General Lafayette.

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Lafayette also has several big factories that make lots of the things you enjoy in Connecticut —— like Subaru Outback cars, Caterpillar equipment, and Alcoa aluminum, which is used to make aluminum bats. Here are pictures of Flat Stanley and me at these three factories.

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My hometown of West Lafayette is best known as the home of Purdue University.

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Purdue University is the flagship university of the State of Indiana. There are 40,000 students enrolled at Purdue.

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Here, Flat Stanley and I are pictured under the Purdue Alumni Gateway Arch and the Bell Tower. Look carefully at the base of the Bell Tower and you will see us. The bells in the Bell Tower play music — even the Purdue Fight Song.

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Purdue is named after John Purdue who gave land and money to the State of Indiana to start this state university. Flat Stanley and I are sitting below with the statue of John Purdue in front of the oldest building on campus, University Hall.

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Some of the famous alumni of Purdue include Orville Redenbacher (the popcorn guy); three NFL Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints), Len Dawson & Bob Griese (Miami Dolphins); John Wooden, basketball hall of famer; Ryan Newman, winner of the Daytona 500; Olympic gold medalist in diving, David Boudia; and 23 astronauts including Neil Armstrong.

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I actually got to meet Drew Brees when he was a student and heard Neil Armstrong speak at the dedication of this building — memories I will never forget.

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Pictured below is Flat Stanley and me with my friends at the Neil Armstrong statue in front of the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering.

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Purdue sports play in the Big 10 conference. They have lots of sports teams including basketball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, track & field, wrestling, swimming, diving, baseball, softball, rowing, sailing, rugby, gymnastics, ice hockey, and football.

Flat Stanley and I are pictured below at the Ross-Ade Stadium where Purdue plays football.

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I performed here with my high school marching band during half time of a Purdue football game last September. That was a very cool experience.

Flat Stanley and I visited the Grand Prix Track (a student go-cart race), and the soccer and baseball stadiums.

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We then went to the Purdue Boathouse, home of the Purdue Crew Team, on the Wabash River.

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I also took Flat Stanley to see the Purdue Airport. If you look closely in the upper left hand corner, you can see the air traffic control tower.

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At Purdue, students can learn how to be pilots, airport managers, and air traffic controllers. All kinds of planes fly in and out of this airport including some really fast jets. The sports teams also use this airport to travel to games.

West Lafayette is also the home of the Indiana Veterans’ Home. The Indiana Veterans’ Home is a place that helps all US veterans from the whole state of Indiana.

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I have been to the Veterans’ home many times to serve the veterans and to sing to them with my school choir on Veterans Day each November.

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The day we visited the Indiana Veterans’ Home there were lots of flags on display to celebrate and remember veterans on Memorial Day.

Flat Stanley and I then did a lot of my favorite things in town.

We started by visiting the Celery Bog and Nature Center.

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They have lots of cool programs like “how to catch fireflies.” My family often walk our dog, Bailey, on the trails here and ride our bikes on the bike trails.

We then went to the Tippecanoe Amphitheater. They have an outdoor stage where we have seen shows. There are trails here, too. The trails at the Amphitheater are the official cross country trails for my high school cross country team — so, I run these trails a lot.

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There are lots of great restaurants in our town. While Flat Stanley was visiting, we ate at two of my favorite restaurants. Below, Flat Stanley and I are sharing Broccoli Cheddar soup in a bread bowl at Panera Bread.

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Below we stopped at the Dog N Suds Drive-in restaurant and had Coney Island chili dogs and Dog N Suds root beer in a frosted mug. My friend, Brett’s dad owns Dog N Suds.

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Flat Stanley and I then went Bowling…

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and Played some Air Hockey and…

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Played a little bit of pocket Billiards (pool).

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I then took Flat Stanley to Von’s, my favorite local store. Von’s sells lots of stuff including comic books, books, and records/CDs/DVDs.

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We then went to the movies — which I love doing. We saw the new X-Men movie.

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The next day we went to the Columbian Park in Lafayette. Columbian Park is named after Christopher Columbus. It is a great park.

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It has a train that looks silly but is a lot of fun.

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It also has a really awesome water park called Tropicanoe Cove, which has water slides and a lazy river.

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The Columbian Park also has a Zoo. The Columbian Park Zoo is free!

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The Zoo has hedgehogs, miniature horses, spider monkeys, prairie dogs, chinchillas, foxes, singing dogs, goats, porcupines, tamanduas, pot-belled pigs, armadillos, wallabies, polecats, llamas, gibbons — and a lot of birds, reptiles and other animals.

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Flat Stanley liked the spider monkeys and gibbons the best. When I was your age — I attended a Zoo camp and had to milk a goat. We visit the park, especially the zoo, a lot in the summer.

Before Flat Stanley went home to Connecticut, I wanted him to see where my mother works. She is a news producer on National Public Radio at WBAA radio station. Flat Stanley used the microphone in the radio studio where my mom works.

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Lastly, Flat Stanley and I went to Mass at our church, St. Thomas Aquinas. It also happens to be where my father works as the parish administrator.

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Flat Stanley and I had a blast. I hope you enjoy seeing the pictures of all of the places Flat Stanley and I visited in Indiana.

Thank you again for sending Flat Stanley to me. See you soon.

Your friend (& first cousin once removed),

Maximilian Xavier


My Wish for Mother’s Day

In Family, Malavenda, mother's day, mothers, Pablo Malavenda, Uncategorized on May 11, 2014 at 8:04 am

My Wish for Mother’s Day

haring-keith-mother-holding-baby-1986For the Community

That Mothers receive a living wage ($15+/hour) so they may spend more time with their kids; that employers will willingly give Mothers health care – and not keep their hours below 30 to avoid it.

For the Country

That we create immigration policies that don’t rip children from their Mothers and separate them by a border.

For the World

The kidnapped girls in Nigeria get returned to their Mothers quickly and safely.

For my Family

That we remember how lucky we are to have such strong, smart, and dedicated women in our family — and to give them love and respect each moment of every day; that we are blessed with no debt, good food, controlled addiction, great health and many more opportunities to create family memories for the next generation.

{PS — It would also be nice to have no rain today — so we can go to the Columbian Park Zoo; and no line at HuHot Mongolian Grill for our Mother’s Day dinner.}

Peace. Happy Mother’s Day!


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