Gifts for the discerning father

·4 min read

I propose that Father's Day is an unnecessary holiday: We fathers, blessed with the stork’s generosity (this said with a catch in the throat), are possessed of gifts enough (feel free to join me in discretely wiping away a tear).

But the wife and children are tenacious about such things; they will insist there be presents. And who am I to ruin their fun?

I worry, though, about all the time and trouble they put into their gift-giving. And so, I thought I might just compile a list they can consult, and, of course, which you may consult as well. Might I recommend leaving the magazine on the coffee table, folded to display this text just as Ralphie Parker might have contrived to have his parents find promotional copy advertising Red Ryder BB guns? Now that we’re all positioned, here’s the gift-giving guide.

1. A Bentley. I know, I know: There are those (my wife no doubt among them) for whom this might have a whiff of extravagance. But stick with me as I make a case for the thrift and prudence of such a purchase.

Just to be clear, I don’t have in mind a new Bentley, some of which top $300,000, but only briefly, given the cars’ steep depreciation upon leaving the dealer’s lot. Depreciation, however, can be your friend. Among the most expensive cars one can buy when new, used Bentleys in excellent shape and with low mileage, especially the boxy ones from the 1980s, can be had for under $20,000.

It’s worth noting that the James Bond of the books is first and foremost a Bentley man. And a used-Bentley man at that: In the early novels, he drives a restored 1930 “Blower Bentley.” Were the Bond books written today, Fleming might well have 007 driving a 1989 Bentley Turbo-R.

2. A French 75. A cocktail of gin, lemon juice, sugar, and champagne, this might seem an awfully modest alternative to a Bentley. But the French 75 I have in mind is one served at Harry’s New York Bar, where, legend has it, the drink was invented during the Great War over a century ago. Harry’s is not, of course, a bar in New York but rather a New York-style bar in Paris. The boozier sort of American expats — Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Humphrey Bogart — were habitues back in the day, and the bar has changed little since. And like vintage Bentleys, Harry’s gets a shoutout in the Fleming corpus. Rather more than just a shoutout, one could say. The bar is where Bond would go in Paris “if he wanted a solid drink.” Fleming elaborates, in the short story “From a View to a Kill,” that when a 16-year-old Bond had first visited Paris, the young man had too much to drink at Harry’s, “culminating in the loss,” Fleming reports, “of his virginity.” Not at the bar itself, I trust.

France opened to COVID-19-free Americans on June 9, making this a perfect Father’s Day for a surprise trip to Paris for a cocktail or three at Harry’s. Feel free to fit in a morning at the Musee d’Orsay before the afternoon imbibing commences.

3. An ascot. Father’s Day is no doubt the occasion that accounts for a majority of necktie sales in any given year. I suggest that one forgo the ordinary tie this year and give instead what Americans call an “ascot” and Brits call a “day cravat.” It is a bit of pleated silk worn tied around the neck, nestled inside an open shirt-collar. The style can be seen in a few Bond films, usually worn by villains as dandified as they are depraved. But the ascot is redeemed, Bond-wise, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, where one is worn with casual elegance by M.

But Bond references aside, the main reason to get a “day cravat” is that it looks awfully sporting when one is behind the wheel of a 1989 Bentley Turbo-R (see gift suggestion No. 1).

Eric Felten is the James Beard Award-winning author of How's Your Drink?

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Tags: humor, Life, Fatherhood, gift ideas

Original Author: Eric Felten

Original Location: Gifts for the discerning father

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