Sweet daddies

From the Undergear people this morning, a Fathers Day offer of free shipping, with this image:

I’ve posted often about Undergear, here, on Language Log, and on my X blog. The company is a source of entertainment in remarkable underwear for men, soft porn (the target audience is gay men), and (if you select wisely) excellent briefs, boxers, and so on.

Though the e-mail that brought this image to me was headed “Who’s Your Daddy?” (which can be read as a double entendre), the Sweet Daddy image takes the high road in approaching Fathers Day for gay men — and avoids hackneyed tie-ins to golf, sports fandom, tools, and war. Suits me, since I admire sweet daddies and enjoy seeing them (as do many other people, male and female, gay and straight; there’s a huge assortment of websites devoted to the subject, including one specifically for photos and videos of Hot Men with Babies).

More on sweet daddies in a moment. But first a contrast between Undergear’s approach to Fathers Day specials for gay men and the one taken by the video porn source GameLink, as described (and depicted) on my X blog, here: an offer of hot man-on-man action between Daddies and Boys (the Boys are at least 18, and Daddy is a role in encounters between men, not a kin relationship). Definitely the low road, but then they’re purveying porn, so their options are limited (though they could have focused on, say, toolbelt porn, of which there’s quite a lot).

Sweet daddies, though: here I am on Facebook back on November 2:

Actually did the World Series thing again last night, at Gordon Biersch (huge crowd high). Now watching immensely touching Ricky Martin interview on Oprah. Baseball and Oprah are two things I almost never do, so it’s been an odd week.

Something that ties the Giants game and Ricky Martin: sweet daddies. Love to see men with their kids, being lovingly parental. Plenty of that from Martin with his two boys. And last night there was a dad with three young kids (two girls and a boy, all very active but otherwise well-behaved). They had dinner towards the front of the restaurant, and the kids were mirroring their dad’s gestures and delight at the game. Then the staff moved them to the back, closer to the tvs, for the end of the game.

On weekends there are lots of sweet daddies — many alone with their kids (these are occasions for the women to be free of child care for a while), some with their partners and the kids — on view at GB. These are occasions for appreciating the way fathers and children interact and also for observing Children Behaving Well.

When I tell people about the pleasure I get from watching sweet daddies, I tend to get two interpretations: either I’m sexually interested in the men, or I’m searching for the kind of father I never had, trying to fill a hole in my emotional life (there are, after all, gay men for whom such a search is a significant motive in their encounters with other men).

I think I can fairly say that my interest in sweet daddies isn’t sexual. What primarily moves me about the Undergear image above is not that I find the man in it attractive (though I certainly do), but that I identify with him, share with him the experience of being a sweet daddy with my kid. And I have a very active sexual-fantasy life, but none of it involves fathers qua fathers. And I have never cruised another father (with kid), or in fact been cruised by a guy when I was out with my kid (though I have been, in effect, cruised by women on several such occasions, in settings where they probably assumed that a man would be out with a kid, especially a girl, only if he had no woman in his life, so that I was available, and also evidently dependable).

The fact is that I was a sweet daddy myself, and so was my man Jacques, so the role is one that resonates strongly with me. (At one point, in fact, Jacques and I began to think that none of our three children would ever have kids, so that if we wanted to have the experience of nurturing kids again, we’d have to take things into our own hands, and we began to explore adopting a kid. But then Jacques’s neurological decline began, and that was clearly out of the question.)

Searching for the missing Good Dad is even more preposterous. I’ve told some of my Wonderful Dad stories on this blog (here and here). They should make it clear that there’s no dad-shaped hole in my emotional life; I was pleased with the one I got.

In any case, the Undergear image was just about perfect for me as a celebration of Fathers Day (an occasion that otherwise moves me not at all).

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