Since fatherhood caught up to me when I turned 40, a few abstract thoughts came to mind like being forever young, living to 150 years; basically notions of finding ways to keep up with my son as he gets older (maybe I won’t). When he was ten years old (16 years ago), I took him to his first college football game at Rutgers to do some father-son bonding. The following year we got season tickets for all the major sports at Rutgers and we’re still going strong. Of course there is more to the institution of fatherhood for me. I’ve been working hard at it for reasons like the essence of this article.
Six years ago my son was a college sophomore; living in the dorm and had just become a member of a fraternity (the same one I joined a few weeks after Muhammad Ali defeated Sonny Liston to win boxing’s Heavyweight Championship in 1964). One Wednesday, my son called and asked what I was doing Saturday night and if I wasn’t busy, I should come down to the fraternity house and hang with him and the guys. There was no hesitation. “What time? Should I come straight to the frat house?” I instantaneously knew what my son’s invitation meant to me and our relationship since the day he was born. I also thought about meeting real life movie ‘Animal House’ characters and I did. Third floor beer pong was going on when I arrived. My son and I teamed-up but I managed not to drink beer; visions of my making the cover of Time or Newsweek danced in my head as being a father who endorsed under-age college drinking; there’s something positive about partial conservatism and vibrant visuals.
Cut to a few months later. Rutgers University, Donald Trump (‘The Apprentice’) Randall Pinkett, who actually won ‘The Apprentice’ and was an undergraduate at Rutgers, endorsed a program reaching out to the Rutgers community to get them involved in the audition process for an upcoming season of ‘The Apprentice.’ Normally laborious long lines of waiting to audition were waived for a select group of Rutgers people. Without hesitation, even at 60 years old and far removed from only 20 and 30 somethings, I became one of the 125 people who auditioned on Rutgers College Avenue campus student center. Prior to sitting with Randall Pinkett and telling him why I’d make a great contestant (I could probably beat every one of the contestants in singles tennis or around the world basketball), I filled out forms and wrote five essays. One essay asked “What is Your Most Impressive Work or School Achievement.” Without hesitation, I wrote about my son calling and asking me to come down to the frat house and hang out. This was my most impressive achievement. In a public discourse like I’m doing right now, I’d venture to say no one from the world of ‘The Apprentice’ had any idea what I was talking about.
But I know that I’ve prioritized life, put my son and our relationship where it should be, ahead of any class of business pursuit; so when he grows up to be a young beer pong playing fraternity guy, he’d be comfortable and secure enough with me and our relationship to want me to hang out with him and his frat brothers; indeed my most impressive accomplishment and achievement. I figured that no one at ‘The Apprentice’ would understand or appreciate the depth of my essay answer and it would probably wind-up on the cutting room floor.
As they say on Broadway, I’m still waiting for the call back. Funny thing; I had a connection that could’ve placed my application and essays on Donald’s desk. However, this particular edition of ‘The Apprentice’ was shot in Los Angles for the summer (taking me away from my beloved New Jersey) and if you lost that week’s segment, the on screen television punishment was sleeping in a tent. I did that once my freshman year and woke up with a frog in my sleeping bag. I resolved no more tents in my life so I declined to have my application appear on Donald Trump’s desk. I hope that didn’t show my age.