Happy Father's Day!
For those of us who struggle to make good conversation with the man who brought us into this world, a day like today can give you the slightest cringe. Not something you admit out loud, but a mini-cringe nonetheless.
I'm here to tell you to fight through it.
Do your father a favor and make a live connection with him today. Don't just leave it at the card you remembered to post two days ago (admit it, you're praying it got delivered already through some magical high-priority routing). Don't just text him, or email him.
If you still live with him, be extra nice today. If you don't, drop in to say "hi" if he lives near you, or have him over for a meal. Or if he doesn't live close, then call him. You can even Facetime or Skype him.
Just do something. He will appreciate it, whether you hear it in his voice or not.
Not sure what to talk about? I suggest to stay away from anything covered on CNN or Fox News this week. You're likely to view things differently than him. Oh, and stay away from things like gas prices, and retirement planning, and even religion. Any of those could kick off a dad-rant you so desperately try to avoid these days.
Try these conversation starters...
"Think the Suns will make the NBA Finals again in your lifetime?"
This one's is a great ice breaker. Use the hapless Suns as your tension-relieving punching bag. It's fun to trash the Suns right now.
Have fun with it. It's cathartic to rant, even if he gets all the player names wrong or says something like "They need Kevin Garnett. Or Shaq. Those guys know how to win rings!"
Just go along with it.
(caveat: only use this ice-breaker if he's relatively healthy at the moment. Use some tact, man!)
"The Draft is this week. I wonder who the Suns will take."
Here's another ice breaker, as long as you don't expect much from him.
He won't know the best college prospects, and won't care who they are either. If he lives here in Arizona, he'll likely say "They gotta draft Rondae". Just breathe. It's Father's Day. Don't shoot back that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson would be a major reach at 13. He might even say "T.J. McConnell is gonna be a star." Bite your tongue. He won't believe you when you say McConnell might not even get drafted, let alone taken in the first round by the Suns.
Or your dad could take another route. "No one. They'll probably trade it like they do all their other picks." Just laugh or grouse along with him. Don't fight back. It's not the day to retort with "they haven't traded away a pick for years, dad" when you know they just traded Ennis at the deadline.
"Did you know 7 Suns from the 2010 WCF team just won the championship with Golden State?"
First, he'll look at you in shock. Or he'll give you that "you're an idiot" look he's perfected throughout your life. Or both.
So you rattle off Steve Kerr, Alvin Gentry and LB (you might mention Jarron Collins too, but you probably stop there because there's no way he'd know Nick U'Ren or Bruce Fraser or Rick Welts by name). You could also mention that the other side had Shawn Marion and James Jones on the roster, and that Jones was in his 5th straight NBA Finals this year.
He'll shake his head and say something like "every guy who's ever left the Suns has become a star. That f*&*ing franchise is a joke." And you can agree with him. Just do it. Fight back your urge to say "No dad, all those decisions were right at the time." Just go along with the rants. Dad are good at ranting. Give him his day, dammit!
"Shawn Marion and Steve Nash both retired this year."
If your dad was an SSOL fan, his jaw will drop. Wallow along with him. Agree with his guarantee that the Suns would have won a ring if they'd just kept that team together.
No need to bring up Marion forcing his way out of town when the Suns wouldn't give him $20+ million a year in his sunset years. Don't bother mentioning Nash was almost 40 when the Suns traded him (although the term "pelvic shearing" might generate a shared chuckle). Don't even mention the team just wasn't as good as the Spurs. Even all the former Suns admit the Spurs were better, now that those days are in the past.
If, instead, your dad responds with a shrug or a blank stare because he didn't follow the SSOL Suns, feel free to generate the wallow yourself. Give him a history lesson. Create the angst together. It's a great way to bond with your dad.
"Amare Stoudemire just said he'd love to come back to the Suns"
This is a great follow-up to the last conversation. Sure, Nash and Marion retired, but man if you could bring STAT back the Suns would be deadly again.
Let your dad say "Hell yeah, they should bring him back! With our training staff, he'd be an All-Star again."
Don't shoot back that STAT is a shadow of himself, unless you say it in a disarming way like "You know, he bathes in a vat of wine these days." That's a great way to turn Amare into a joke, so when you say "He's an oak tree out there now on defense" your dad might actually listen.
Those are some good convo starters with your dad on this holiest of days, Father's Day.
You're welcome, Suns fans.