My friend Jason celebrated his first Fathers' Day yesterday. I gave him the unsolicited advice that he should choose carefully what he wanted for Fathers' Day as it would likely become a tradition. He asked me what I would suggest and I didn't really know – I hadn't understood that "what do you want for your first Fathers' Day" also meant "and for every Fathers' Day from now on."
Kim asked me what I wanted. It was a month after her first pear crepe Mothers' Day breakfast and she wanted to make something nice. "What do you want?" she asked.
"I don't know," I said.
Kim said, a little too quickly, "what about huevos rancheros?"
"What are they?" I asked.
"Eggs with salsa. I think they'd be fun to make. You'll like them. I'll leave out the cilantro."
"OK," I said. I didn't much care either way but if she wanted to make me huevos rancheros then that sounded like a good way to start my first Fathers' Day.
Kim looked in one cookbook and frowned. She looked in a second cookbook and frowned some more.
"What?" I asked. "Isn't there a recipe for huevos rancheros in either of those?"
"There is. But it's way too complicated. Forget it."
"Forget it?" I repeated.
"Yeah," she said, "I'm not making that."
She put the cookbooks away. It was still a good week before Fathers' Day so she had time.
A few minutes later she perked up again. "What about Quiche Lorraine?"
"Quiche Lorraine?" I echoed. "Isn't that harder than huevos rancheros?"
"I don't think so. You just buy a crust – "
"You would buy a crust?" I interrupted. "You would buy a crust for my Fathers' Day meal?"
"Well, yeah," she answered. With that she was off to read the cookbooks again. Once she had located Quiche Lorraine she frowned again. "Never mind," she said. "You're not getting that either."
"OK," I said.
"Well," Kim asked, "What do you want?"
"What about bagels with cream cheese, lox, tomato, and onion?" I suggested.
"Really?" she asked. "Is that all? You don't want me to cook something for you?"
"Nope. Bagels would be perfect." And I meant it.
I may have been a new father but I wasn't a new husband. So Saturday night before the bagel store closed I called Kim at her parents house. "Did you pick up the bagels?" I asked.
"Not yet," she answered.
"They close in an hour."
"They do?" she said. "I better get going then."
And so the next morning I woke to bagels for my first Fathers' Day breakfast. It was perfect. When our kids were young Fathers' Day and Mothers' Day are really a way for us parents to recognize each other in that role. It's a day for us to focus on and celebrate our spouse as a parent.
Each year we joked about huevos rancheros for Fathers' Day breakfast and each year I got bagels and lox. Each year I would remind Kim to pick up the bagels. That was our routine. How we celebrated that first Fathers' Day was how we celebrated every Fathers' Day.
Last year on Fathers' Day, Elena could barely contain herself.
"Daddy," she said, "guess what mom made for you."
"What?" I asked.
"Ummm," she said. She'd forgotten already. She turned to Kim who was behind her and asked "what's it called again?"
"Huevos Rancheros," prompted Kim.
"Yeah," said Elena. "And it's got eggs and salsa and tortillas."
After six years of bagels on Fathers' Day, Kim had made huevos rancheros.
"How are they?" Kim asked.
"Good," I answered. I always say good when she asks. She doesn't pay attention because she knows I'm just encouraging her so she'll cook more often. But she is a good cook, she just doesn't like to cook that much. "What do you think?" I asked back.
"They're ok," she said.
"You don't like them?" I asked.
And so this year we talked about huevos rancheros but Fathers' Day morning I had bagels and lox with onions and tomatoes.
I checked my email last night and there was a message from Jason. He was reporting back on how he had spent his first Fathers' Day. His son had gotten sick and puked all over him. Could be the beginnings of their Fathers' Day tradition.