Two Is Better Than One

“I’m in love,” my mother proclaimed.

“With whom?” I asked. (Even as a 15-year-old I was concerned with the correct use of who and whom.)

“Dan.”

The idea of having a step-father never upset me. My dad is awesome so I wasn’t concerned with a replacement dad. In fact, the reality of sizing up a step-father provided me with the best excuse in the world to be a brat. Dan might say otherwise, but most of my efforts to terrorize him failed. They were pathetic really. Dan turned out to be just what I never knew I always wanted: a Dan.

A Dan is the guy who says “I do” not just to your mother but also to her children.

I used to tell people that I was going to have salt-and-pepper hair just like Dan until I connected the dots quite late in life that he and I don’t share any genetic coding. I was saying this six months after he and my mother met.

Dan used to take me to the Elephant Room in Austin, Texas, when I was 16 to listen to jazz and drink Cokes. He never got upset when I crashed his MGB into his Mustang, which I later lost control of in a turn at the Texas World Speedway at car racing school. In fact, he walked up to the accident with a wide smile, proud that I’d had my first spin-out. For a year, he drove 45 minutes each way every day to take me and my brother to and from school. He never complained. He bit his tongue when my brother and I would drink all his caffeine-free Diet Cokes.

A Dan has no problem telling it like it is and isn’t interested in being liked. Turns out, bratty teenagers and lost 20-somethings respond well to discipline and boundaries. Dan has always been concerned with what’s best for me, even if that has meant delivering the tough news. No coddling. No sugar-coating. Just the truth.

A Dan is the guy you want for a parent.

People have often said that we look alike (maybe), that it’s endearing I’m named after him (nope), that he’s a great dad (true). Not once, even when I’ve been upset at him, have I ever corrected them unless they realized the misunderstanding on their own.

When it does require clarification, I tell them this: “I have a dad and a Dan.”

Happy Father’s Day to the Dads and Dans out there.