Fathers are men, and men have an extra advice chromosome that women lack. Oh, I know, mothers are the ones always offering advice and opinions: Wear a sweater, it’s cold outside. The blue top matches the lovely shoes you just bought. Chicken soup will help with your cold. That Timmy, he’s such a nice boy, you should date him.
Fathers offer advice as well, especially when it comes to sports or cars: Keep your elbow up when you swing the bat. Loosen the lug nuts before you jack up the car. That Timmy, what a waste of a first-round draft pick.
Problem is, men tend to pick up steam when they see a challenge. Ask a woman how to get to Quakerbridge Mall and she will say, “Take Route 1 to Quakerbridge Road and it’s on the left side of the highway.” Now ask a man. “Get on New Road and go about four miles; you’ll see the Kendall Park fire station on your right and Woodlot Park on your left. Make a right onto Route 1—watch out for cars coming out of the Exxon station at the corner. On Route 1 you’ll pass a restaurant on the right, can’t think of the name, used to be Rumbleseats, then something else and Route One South until last year. That new Target and Best Buy mall will be on your left just after you pass Promenade Boulevard. Watch out for construction around Harrison Street, they’re building an overpass there for the new hospital in West Windsor. You’ll pass the Washington Road intersection with a gazillion lights, but don’t worry, they’re all timed to turn green at the same time…” The man is still ten miles away from Quakerbridge Mall, but you’re cooked. Your eyes are glazed and you best be looking for a woman to tell you how to get there.
In real estate there are certain Kisses of Death for an agent that doom a potential sale. Finding out that your client’s credit score is 540 is a kiss of death. Two inches of standing water in the basement is a kiss of death. Sadly, I’ve experienced another example several times with especially promising young couples who’ve fallen in like with a nice home. They ooh. They ahh. This is by far the best of 18 homes I’ve shown them. Then comes the Kiss: “We want to see it again with our parents.”
With all the enthusiasm of a convicted criminal I make the next appointment and meet The Parents. The moms are OK, they comment on the amount of light coming through the windows and how the sectional will fit in the living room. The fathers are primed for combat. Their kids asked them for Advice. The honor of men worldwide is on the line here.
You see, fathers, being men, are genetically predisposed to find fault. It’s not that they don’t like things; it’s just that not finding fault is admitting that one does not know everything about something. How can you display your wealth of knowledge about an item without pointing out its flaws? Can’t be done.
Fathers start their commentary in the foyer and leave a wake of verbal destruction as they tour the home. The hardwood floors should really be stripped and resealed; that’s expensive. The thermostat is an older model, they make better ones now. Wallpaper may not have been sized; you know how hard it is to remove wallpaper that hasn’t been sized? That’s a 110,000 BTU furnace you got there; builder chintzed and should have put in a 115,000 BTU unit.
Needless to say, by the end of the Parents’ Tour, the shining castle in the eyes of the young couple has been reduced to a smoldering Superfund site. Their dejection is palpable, matched only by the dejection of the real estate agent who regrets not having made the appointment on a workday or during an NFL playoff game. Another set of fathers who are not buying a home killing dreams and hopes with a deft display of knowledge.
Young couples, you love your parents, and they love you even more. Fathers especially want to protect you from every evil known to Home Depot. Just be aware that asking them for advice is like brushing your teeth with a carpet cleaner. Very thorough indeed. I’m not saying ignore them, but be aware of the perils. That’s my advice to you. I know. I’m a father.