Pastor Walter Mitty was in Bernie Rolvaag’s bookstore looking for a Fathers’ Day present for his brother Herman. “What is he interested in?” asked the owner of History/Herstory.
“He loves submarines,” replied the pastor of Poplar Park Community Church. “You know, Manitowoc built over 20 submarines during World War II, and right now they have one docked at their Maritime Museum. Herman’s really into that stuff.”
“Perfect. I’ve got this great coffee table book on WW II subs right over here.”
“I don’t think that will work,” Mitty replied. “See, Susan kind of rules the house and she doesn’t approve of anything having to do with war being out for her kids to see.”
“Been there,” said the book seller, as both men turned and watched Eric Anderson walk through the front door.
“Looks like you lost your best friend,” said Mitty as he observed his parishioner’s slumped shoulders and long face.
“I have, sort of,” said Anderson. “I’m in the dog house with Debbie.” Bernie and Pastor Walt waited for the rest of the story. “What happened was Debbie asked me what I wanted for Fathers’ Day and, well, I was kind of irritated about how she always is nagging me about keeping the house clean. I mean, I like clean, but she wants it sterile for surgery. So, I said I want one day when she and the kids put the toilet seat up when they’re done, you know, just for Fathers’ Day.”
“And she went ballistic?” said Bernie with a sympathetic roll of his eyes.
“Ballistic! I mean with nuclear …” Eric’s response was interrupted by the slamming of the bookstore’s front door.
“Women!” muttered Ash as he stomped into the military history section where Bernie, Eric and Mitty were commiserating.
“You, too?” asked Bernie as he greeted his retired friend.
“I’ve been looking for you guys all over town. I love that woman but sometimes I want to …”
Pastor Mitty decided to cut in before Ash said something that could incriminate him. “What happened Ash?”
“I was going to take her to the doctor,” Ash explained. “You know, drop Dorothy off at the door, park the car, and wait for her in the lobby. No big deal, but she says that me dressed in sweat pants and a T-shirt with holes in it would embarrass her.” Encouraged by six sympathetic eyes, Ash continued. “I mean I feel like every time we go out I have to pass inspection, like I was back in the Army. And she keeps a mental record of all my transgressions. She never forgets.”
“My ex-wife did the same thing,” said Bernie. “‘You made me feel so ashamed’ she said one time about when I stained my shirt with mustard at the county fair. That happened 10 years before she used it as ammunition in one of our arguments.”
Buoyed by their mutual support, the four men boldly began to agree that what was needed was a men’s liberation movement. “And I have just the book to back us up,” exulted Bernie. “It’s called ‘Stiffed,’ and it’s written by, of all people, a woman. It’s her contention that men are more oppressed by our society than women.”
“Really?” said Ash as he looked over Bernie’s should at the table of contents. “Come to think of it, she’s right. It’s men that, for the most part, do the dangerous jobs like construction work. And, I heard that 98 percent of the casualties in Iraq are men. I mean, I respect the women who serve there, but …”
At that minute, Zaphne walked into the bookstore dressed in flip flops, cut off shorts and a little T-shirt with just enough spandex to leave little to the imagination. “My four favorite men,” she said with a smile. Four guys, all old enough to be her father, blushed. “Hey, Bernie, Hillary’s run for the presidency got me interested in the feminist movement. You got any books on that?”
And the men, who had just been complaining about the women in their lives, tripped over each other to show her to the section on women’s history.
On the way home Mitty thought about Mars, Venus, flag-draped coffins, glass ceilings, cut-off shorts and being single. And he decided that for Fathers’ Day he’d give Herman a gift certificate to the White Gull Inn in Door County, so his brother and Susan could get away for a weekend.