One of our least favorite pieces of social science bullshit posing as evolutionary insight is the idea that men are ‘programmed’ to propagate themselves as widely as possible with little regard to consequences. That’s like suggesting that one bird who lays its eggs in other birds’ nests is a trait of all birds, rather than the fact that most birds nurture their young enabling parasitic behavior from a very small subset of the species. In humans, most dads work hard, struggle daily to do the right thing and delight in little more than watching their kids thrive.
But there is another class of dad- and Gloucester is full of these guys. In German one might call them the “Jerdervader” or “Everydad”, and one can see why the Deutch is better here because “jerdervader” sounds effing boss.
This dad is not just good to his own kids, ensuring that his DNA load gets carried down the genetic line. No, he’s good to ALL kids. This is the guy who coaches. The guy who volunteers at the school. The guy who makes sure the kid across the street without a dad gets to play, gets a funny nickname, learns how a chop-saw works and what happens when you put soap in the microwave. He’s on boards, he goes to meetings, writes letters and makes calls.
Maybe because in Gloucester so many dads went to sea for months on end leaving the “dad” job more as a community endeavor (We can do dubious social hypotheses too!). Since some of those dads never came home, perhaps community fathering is somewhat more normalized here than it would be in a suburban environment. Who knows?
All we can say is that there are jerdervader überall in Gloucester. We’re going to not name names, but the list of dudes is staggering. And the roles are like sacred trusts. You find yourself sweating- “Damm, I have to take over lights for school plays from Steve when his youngest heads off to O’Maley. I’d better get my shit together…” The handoff is like an Inuit elder giving his harpoon to a young hunter before wandering off to the ice floe. Voices get deeper, there are profound thanks, handshakes, hugs.
And we guarantee you’ll see Steve wander in randomly when the play is being set up, just to check things out and make sure you have his cell number. Sacred. These trusts are sacred.
There are tons of those guys. Guys who don’t even have kids in the system anymore who are still rocking major roles behind the scenes for no money and at huge expenditure of time and headache. We said we would resist giving names but we were wrong because you can’t discuss dads going above the call without actually pointing out Russell Freaking Hobbs the übermench of jerdervader who runs the massive prop and scenery machine at O’Maley without having a kid in the system in years. We walk in this man’s shadow.
So a hearty paternal clam shout-out to the guys who take it to the next level. Gloucester owes you a great debt. If you see one of these guys, buy ’em a beer, give way to them at the Basket or at the very least let them park their overloaded trucks full of soccer balls, fake tree props and spare life jackets in the loading zone.
And there should totally be a JerderVader t-shirt.