Tomorrow is Father’s Day.
I happened to have been raised by the greatest father who has ever walked the planet. I’m not exaggerating when I say that—my dad is the best dad of all time. Hands down.
His name is Stanley Pearlman. About 10 years ago, my dad wrote a letter to the New York Times and signed it “Stanley Pearlman.” Then he wrote another letter to the Times, disagreeing with the one printed a day earlier; the one signed “Stanley Pearlman.” He signed the second letter “Stan Smith.” Both ran. Brilliant.
When I was a kid, perhaps 13 or 14, my grandmother was in a hospital in Washington, D.C. It was election season, and as Dad and I took a walk one day, we noticed all the different candidate signs stapled to telephone poles. My dad thought it’d be funny to take one, bring it home and staple it to a telephone pole in Mahopac, N.Y. So we did it. Most people I know don’t feel that sort of humor. I do—and so does my dad.
My dad is my hero. He was when I was a kid, he is today. I remember as a boy, I’d lie on his bed and watch him get dressed for work. He’d look into a mirror and do his tie perfectly, then neatly slide into a jacket. It brought to mind Clark Kent turn into Superman. At home, putzing around, cursing out a dangling muffler in the garage (What my mom, brother and I would hear in the kitchen: Fuckingahhrgfuckfuckshitargdammitcrapfuckdamn!), sneaking a cookie, taking a nap, Dad was Clark Kent. Then, when it came to running his executive search firm, he was the Man of Steel. I loved going to his office, watching him call the shots, hearing him speak in this foreign business language on the phone, thinking, “That’s my dad! That’s my dad!”
My dad knows nothing about sports. He’s extraordinarily unathletic. But he always made the effort, listening to me drone on about Ken Griffey, Sr. or Walter Payton or Bernard King, allowing me to talk forever as long as he received a back scratch. Ah, back scratches, back scratches, back scratches. In my home, they were currency. If I wanted to stay up later, or watch TV with my parents, I paid by scratching my dad’s back. He was/is sort of like a dog—as long as you scratch, he’ll stick by your side.
Somehow, my dad knows how to do everything. He can fix a pipe, jump a car, cut the perfect slice of tape, explain the theories of business, science, math. When my Grandpa Herz died in 1990, nobody had much good to say about the man. He was grumpy and angry and not all that fun. My dad stood up and gave the eulogy of a lifetime. When I needed to find my best man in 2002, I required two seconds to think about it. Dad was the obvious choice.
He is, after all, the best man.
The absolute best.
And one final thought: In this world, we judge greatness in odd ways. We equate the word with money and/or fame and/or power. Too often it is affixed to a person who is anything but great. To a person who is just blah. My dad, however, is a great man. Truly great. And honorable. And decent. He doesn’t talk trash. He’s fiercely loyal. If I needed a pickup from an airport at 3 am, I’d call and he’d come sans thought. If you meet two or three people in your life with my father’s goodness, you’ve done very well.