• Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.


The Adventures of DadMan



September 27, 2016

The Girl enjoys the newish show about The Flash, as does her friend next door. After a weekend sleepover, as I made them pancakes, they told me about the show and we got to talking about superheroes. We started making up new ones until, inevitably, we came around to DadMan. DadMan is a middle-aged suburban dad with super powers.

DadMan doesn’t wear a spandex suit because, well, DadMan doesn’t get to the gym as often as he once did, and nobody needs to see that.

DadMan’s secret weapon is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of terrible jokes. He uses them to groan bad guys into submission. (“...so the duck says…”

“Enough, DadMan!  I surrender!”)  In extreme cases, he breaks out the puns.  People with sensitive ears are advised to beware.

DadMan has the ability to fall asleep anywhere, anytime, instantly.  Insomnia trembles before DadMan. DadMan celebrates his decisive triumphs over Insomnia with the Snores of Victory.

DadMan has Super Memory, but only for irrelevant things. Want to know who played Carmine “The Big Ragu” Ragusa on Laverne and Shirley? DadMan to the rescue!  What does “defenestrated” mean? DadMan is here! Where did we spend Thanksgiving last year?  Um, DadMan needs to check…

DadMan can mow the lawn in a single hour.

DadMan’s arch-enemy -- every superhero needs one -- is the evil Cable Helpline Representative. DadMan has spent hours -- literally, hours -- locked in handset-to-handset combat with Cable Helpline Representative, sparring verbally until nearly disappearing into a cloud of surprisingly specific profanity.  Witnesses claim that DadMan even changes color during these battles, going from pale to pink to an unnerving scarlet. The Boy and The Girl have learned to give DadMan a wide berth during these battles. We still speak only in hushed tones of the Great Comcast Conflagration of 2010.

Unfortunately for DadMan, Cable Helpline Representative seems to have shape-shifting powers, adopting a different name, accent, and even gender from one call to the next. But DadMan will not be deterred.

DadMan is unafraid of the kitchen, though his sense of portions remains controversial.  He scoffs at the puny plates of the millennials. DadMan prefers mighty heaps of pasta, sometimes quoting idiosyncratic theology to make the point.  He also uses his theology to endure the curse of having grown up a Buffalo Bills fan. “Sure, Niebuhr counseled the spiritual discipline against resentment, but he never had to deal with Scott Norwood!” DadMan considers that an airtight argument.

DadMan has an uncanny ability to find stupid comedy on cable.  

DadMan isn’t static; he’s developing new powers all the time.

DadMan has recently developed the superpower of telepathic embarrassment. He’s able to embarrass The Boy anywhere, anytime, without even trying. DadMan suspects that this may be because The Boy is fifteen. DadMan has embarrassed TB while picking him up, without even getting out of the car. Mere steel and glass cannot stop his rays of mortification.

DadMan also has the power of invisibility. When driving a car full of teenagers, they talk about incredibly personal things as if he weren’t even there. He can also pass clusters of students in hallways and hear amazing things as he goes, apparently undetected.

To the irritation of SuperMom, DadMan’s powers still don’t really include home repair. He tries instead to use irony and self-awareness, but finds them of limited use when the toilet won’t stop running. The garage door appears to have achieved self-awareness for reasons that elude DadMan.

The Girl and her friend prefer The Flash. DadMan accepts it. Even superheroes have limits.



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