How to Spot a Dad

My dad frequently wore a t-shirt that said “I carry no cash” when I was a kid. I was too young to understand the joke (or maybe the truth in the statement, depending on the situation) at the time.

In the instances when my total misconception of an ATM bubbled to the surface, the t-shirt likely served as a handy reference point.

“Dad, if you have no money, there’s a machine over there that spits it out!”

Jamie’s not old enough to be asking for money or a lot of things that cost money, but I am ready to get on Amazon at a moment’s notice, and look for a similar t-shirt. It has to still exist.

That shirt is a telltale sign of a dad. There are others as well. Being a dad doesn’t change who you are. You are still the same person you were before. But it can bring out a slew of behaviors you never thought were possible.

Some ways to spot a dad are obvious and some, not as much.

Similar to a mom’s purse, there is no telling what might emerge from the pockets of a dad’s cargo shorts. It might be a toy minion or a packet of wet wipes. It could be something as risky as a sippy cup filled with milk and steadily balanced against his leg.

Carrying these items and forgetting can make for an interesting situation going into an airport, sporting event, or any event that requires emptying the contents of their pockets. Something random could inadvertently surface next time they reach for their phone or wallet. The clue could be as inconspicuous as the Costanza wallet, but there is likely something there that points to dadness.

A dad is the guy at the bar who might have spit up stain on his shoulder, or tomato sauce on his shirt, and not care. It might mean total embarrassment for a college student, but a dad is comfortable with this appearance.

The tomato sauce likely got there while cleaning up a toddler, or at least that’s his story. He probably didn’t notice until after he left the house.

The dad clue could be verbal or behavioral, for example displaying a sudden regard for the upkeep of the lawn, or an increased obsession with both coffee AND alcohol depending on the time of day.

The bookshelf might have the classic “Go the F*ck to Sleep” sandwiched between the thriller novel and some existentialist essays he once had time to read. He might purposefully dream up more ways to be overly-direct with his children, partly because it’s funny, and partly because sometimes it’s the only way they will understand. He might develop a sudden interest in golf or jazz or working out.

He might be the one awkwardly navigating the parenting social constructs typically dominated by moms. He’s comfortable in silence, but now he is concerned it means his children are plotting.

A strong tendency in any of these directions is a definite sign. And that is how to spot a dad.

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