Last Sunday was a good day. I’m digging my way through the Sunday paper when I reach the TV guide section and casually look at what’s on the rest of the day.
My eyes roll down to AMC. 11:30 – The Longest Day. 3:30 – Tora, Tora, Tora. 7:00 – Patton.
Quickly, three things ran through my mind. 1) Holy Crap, I’m going to need some more pretzels. 2) What is the most efficient and foolproof way to keep the girls in basement for 10.5 hours. 3) How do I trick Mom into letting my watch all three movies?
Not only did she let me watch the movies, she let me drone on about obscure facts of D-Day, technical mistakes in the depiction of the first wave of the Japanese attack and George Patton’s role under General Pershing in WW1.
“You know had Ike decided not to go on the 6th and waited the two weeks until the tides were right again, he would have landed during a massive storm that actually wrecked the Allies artificial harbors. It would have been a disaster.”
“Yeah. furthermore, they screwed up the attack on Pearl Harbor in Tora, Tora, Tora. The torpedo planes attacked first not the fighters and dive bombers.”
“Didn’t know that.”
“Did you know that Patton knew the French countryside pretty well before Gen. Bradley put him in charge of the 3rd Army because he served under General Pershing in France in World War I?”
Yeah, so even though she didn’t care, I had a great time. I picked up a couple things too.
You really can’t underestimate the value of good planning. Look at Operation Overlord. Ike had to land 160,000 troops on the first day, overcome nationalistic rivalries and rely on the word of a British weatherman using 1940’s technology. We have Operation Whinerlord every morning. Getting the girls to get dressed, brush their teeth and eat breakfast is about as easy as putting a floatation device on a 30 ton M4 Sherman medium tank and driving it through heavy surf onto Omaha Beach. I actually think the swimming tanks had a better success rate than we do. Just this morning Kinsey had two rolling meltdowns. First she was the last one downstairs so Rye and Bailey had already eaten the last two “good” poptarts. Evidently there are bad poptarts. Really. Not kidding. The cinnamon roll poptarts apparently don’t measure up to the brown sugar poptarts. I came downstairs, assessed the situation, then grabbed the poptarts and broke them all into little pieces and mixed them together.
No more whining.
Then she didn’t want to wear her sneakers because “her socks were too thick and they felt weird.” Momentum takes over at a certain point in our morning routine. Not unlike the Normandy landings. So Kinsey had no chance to fall back and reassess. We slapped her with her backpack and dance bag and stuck her in the car.
What we really need is a code phrase like the French Resistance received as they prepared for the airborne operations. Like “John has a long moustache.” Mom and I could communicate through code to keep the girls guessing. Then we could pop out of the hedgerows with various directives. Surprise, unpredictability and confusion can be good parenting strategies.
Which leads me to why Patton is a good movie for Dads. Probably moreso for Dads who are preparing to have daughters in junior high. I’ve been warned – repeatedly – about my impending irrelevance by many dudes with junior high daughters. So I’m thinking of using the Patton model for my behavior.
Old George is a great example. He intensely believed he was always right. He detested doubt and ambiguity. And he tended to fly off the handle and scare the crap out of his staff. All of which will serve me well as I intimidate the first boyfriend who has the misfortune of finding his way into my house. If you are 13 year-old boy and you have to meet the Dad, the last things you want to deal with are a freakishly intense loose canon who expects detailed and well-thought out answers to all his questions.
Bottom line? Boyfriend won’t look me in the eye? Slap him around, call him yellow and threaten to send him to the front like George did to that whiny private back on Sicily in ’43.
I struggled a bit with Tora, Tora, Tora. I mean what is there for a Dad to really take for this movie? Well, here’s the lesson. If your daughter calls and says she thinks there is about to be a problem with something and she sounds really insistent, don’t ask for confirmation of the problem before acting. You don’t want to end up like Richard Anderson. Who is Richard Anderson? He’s the guy who played Captain Earle the officer who upon receiving word the that the USS Ward had fired upon and destroyed a midget sub just outside the entrance to Pearl insisted on “confirmation.” The plumes of black smoke a few hours later probably helped him “confirm” the report. But at least Anderson got to go on and play Oscar Goldman in the The Six Million Dollar Man. Which is pretty cool. Remember the two-part episode when Steve Austin went into the wilds of northern California only to run into Bigfoot? Classic 70’s TV right there.
Before I finish here’s quick note on another movie set during Pearl Harbor – From Here to Eternity. It was on AMC last week too. Have you ever really watched this movie? Every single dude in this flick is a guy you don’t want your daughter hanging around. Pvt. Maggio? Smooth talking slime destined to be a punk his whole life. Sgt. Warden? Stand up guy with a skewed moral compass who is destined to break her heart. Pvt. Prewitt? I don’t get how this guy was the hero of the movie. He was a loser who was incredibly talented at making bad decisions. Everytime I see this guy, I like him less. I mean, if you really think about it, the only movie with a greater collection of bad decision makers was Boogie Nights.
So there you have it. If you stay sharp, you can pick up some pretty damn interesting things…