Search Results for: dad

After My Dad Died, I Started Sending Him Emails. Months Later, Someone Wrote Back

Longreads Pick

After Rax King’s father died in May, 2018, she wrote him emails to remember their relationship and to work through her grief. Stunningly, long after she’d began writing, someone — a living witness to the relationship she had with her dad — wrote back.

Author: Rax King
Source: Glamour
Published: Jan 15, 2020
Length: 7 minutes (1,988 words)

My Brown Dad Voted for Trump

Longreads Pick
Author: Anjoli Roy
Source: Longreads
Published: Nov 20, 2019
Length: 27 minutes (6,945 words)

My Brown Dad Voted for Trump

Illustration by Carson McNamara

Anjoli Roy | Longreads | November 2019 | 28 minutes (6,945 words)

For most of my life, I’ve been trying to make sense of my Southern-drawling, Tar Heels–loving, fiscally conservative, immigrant from India, gyno, deeply loving dad of three daughters. There have been some strange contradictions. When my sisters and I were little and our parents were still together, he and our mom would drop us off at Sunday school at a nondenominational Christian church in our hometown of Pasadena, CA, while they skipped service and went who knows where, enjoying the free babysitting. When I was 14 and he found out my friends were having sex, he gave me birth control pills to “help with my acne.” He answered my friends’ and my questions about bodily pathologies oftentimes connected to sex without judgment and always with a professionalism that told me I could count on him. But, for most of our childhoods, he was traveling on the lecture circuit. It wasn’t until I was an adult that he became more than the scruffy cheek kissing us goodbye in our sleep, or the dry-cleaned suits encased in soft plastic sleeves hanging on an empty door frame, not to be disturbed. Until then, he was the grumpy, tired person I mostly avoided on the rare occasions he was home. He was the distant guy my middle sister Maya and I drew countless pictures for, of shoes with a plus sign and then a bee — a visual representation of how to pronounce his name, Subi — which he’d hang dutifully in his office at county hospital.

Today, my dad, the source of our brownness, is a marker of how I understand myself. I grew up the lightest of my dad’s three girls — the one who looked least like him. Maybe that’s why I reach for him so much: I don’t want to get swallowed up with Mom’s side of the family, locked in with the white folks. I have learned to subject him to the same critiques I aim at my own body. In some ways, his story is my story. Sometimes, it feels like we’re both half-told, bleeding onto blank pages.

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How Do You Move Past a Dad?

Illustration by Zoë van Dijk

Sara Fredman | Longreads | July 2019 | 9 minutes (2,492 words)


What makes an antihero show work? In this Longreads series, It’s Not Easy Being Mean, Sara Fredman explores the fine-tuning that goes into writing a bad guy we can root for, and asks whether the same rules apply to women.

Golden Age antihero plots were inextricably tied to marriage and the family. Women were often written as villains, antagonists to their husbands who were humanized by the way they loved and provided for their families, no matter the means. Parenthood in particular fulfilled another key requirement for the success of an antihero show: the perfect balance of power and powerlessness the antihero had to maintain in order to retain our sympathy. There is nothing quite like parenting children to make a person feel like a superhero one moment and dust in the wind the next.
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Reading ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ in Baghdad

Longreads Pick
Source: Washington Post
Published: Apr 13, 2019
Length: 8 minutes (2,000 words)

Jack, Jacqueline — Dad

Longreads Pick
Source: Longreads
Published: Dec 21, 2018
Length: 27 minutes (6,875 words)

Jack, Jacqueline — Dad

Illustration by Zoë van Dijk

Yvonne Conza | Longreads | December 2018 | 28 minutes (6,875 words)


Dad is dying. A cell phone ping alerts me to a terse, fracturing email from my father’s younger brother.

Your Father is in a Florida Hospice. My eyes freeze on the bold subject line as I’m having dinner with a friend at an East Village restaurant. The muffled music and clatter of cutlery become an inescapable tunnel of sound. Childhood memories torpedo my thoughts and conflict with the reality that Dad is close to passing away on the cusp of turning 79. Thirty years of not knowing where or how he lived vanish.


To most everyone, John Joseph Downes was Jack, but to a few he was Jacqueline, and to Mom, my three older siblings and me, called “Jackass” behind his back. Dad’s multiplex of enduring identities also include: door-to-door Encyclopedia Britannica salesman; entrepreneur selling jigs, molds, gauges and fixture parts to automotive plants through a business he built from scratch; and the owner of a successful home health care agency. A Buffalo Bills fan, he gave his season tickets to clients while he watched games at home eating cheese curds and pretzels. He was a seeker of public office, wearer of white button-down shirts with wife-beater tanks underneath, actual wife beater, sporadic psoriasis sufferer, excellent provider, entertainer, showoff, lover of culture and a Chivas Regal drinker who, as these wailing memories emerge, will not live two months more to celebrate his New Year’s Eve birthday.

For a few years, Dad donned a hearse-black, trapezoid-contoured toupee that our Russian Blue cat murderously stalked like a sly predator. When askew on Dad’s head, the cat didn’t tamper with the hairpiece. But once it was placed atop Mom’s dresser she pounced on it, battled with double-sided tape and amused all, even Dad, with her mischief. Stored in a cherry wood armoire and draped over a creepy female Styrofoam white mannequin wig stand was Dad’s more notable wig, a dolled up shoulder-length Jackie O. bouffant postiche with satiny strands looped into starched beach waves. Had he added oval, dark, smoke-tinted oversized sunglasses, the look would have been complete.

He had a proclivity towards cross-dressing, a marital joint venture since Mom slipped him into finery that hung inside a shared closet. Though their bedroom door was kept closed, the curtains weren’t pulled down, perhaps intentionally, to spark a pivotal conversation. As a child of 8, I was blindsided by intimate details that felt jarring and amiss. Whenever I put away his freshly laundered socks and t-shirts, I had to open the shuttered double doors of his dresser and be exposed to the cavernous storage area where timepieces and ties kept Jackie O’s foam head company.

When I was not much older, flickering flashes, not belonging to a swarm of fireflies, distracted me from Charlie’s Angels. Looking up to the wide-open windows of my parent’s second floor bedroom I saw Dad accessorized, demure and toying with puckered painted lips. Backlit and indefinably beautiful, he seemed more himself in a size 16 dress than in one of his polyester baby blue or pickle green leisure suits.

Once while snooping for Christmas presents, I discovered Polaroid portraits of Dad as Jackie stashed in a shabby shoebox on the top shelf of my parents’ bedroom closet. Clad in kitten heels, stockings and a conservative, zip-from-behind dress, he had been transformed into a chunky, rarified suggestion of Jacqueline Kennedy. When not embodying Jacqueline, he wore a suit, white shirt and tie, shaved, splashed on decadent amounts of Old Spice.  It was hard for him to keep a clean shave, 5 o’clock shadow always intruding. He bore a resemblance to Don Knotts, the billboard-sized forehead over his eyebrows, which I inherited, displaying struggle, though in a more generous light it beamed with determination. After stuffing pens in his pocket protector, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work he’d go — a tender, paunch bellied dwarf with pick and shovel who knew not to return home until a million diamonds shined, and his worth to his wife could be proven.

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Oh Come On, Dad!

AP Photo/Don Ryan

Both relished and reviled, treated like the tuna casserole you ate too much as a kid but now can’t stop making as an adult, the family tradition known as the dad joke has recently experienced a nationwide appreciation. Not everyone’s laughing, but that seems to be the point: the teller entertains himself and enjoys eliciting a reaction other than laughter. Dad jokes take many forms; they often involve word play and mildly annoying the listener. For The Atlantic, Ashley Fetters, whose own father tells her dad jokes, explores the way this particular type of humor seems to work and where it came from. Thankfully, it isn’t just dads and Americans who are to blame.

How these types of jokes got associated with dads, however, is another question, and there are a few compelling theories floating around. When my colleague McKay Coppins tweeted about his life as a suburban dad and someone responded by asking him how dads get their jokes, he said that it is a “combination of exhaustion and your kids laughing at anything when they’re very young, which creates a perverse incentive system and endows you with false confidence.” (“Then you spend the rest of your life doubling down on dad jokes,” he added in an email to me later. He does, though, hope to pass the dad-joke tradition down to his own son one day.)

Dubinsky likes this theory, both as a researcher and as a parent. As kids get older and less childlike, he says, there’s a sense of loss, and a nostalgia that sets in for when they were smaller. “You don’t have children anymore,” he says. “One way to get back to that time is to go back to the stupid old jokes they used to think were funny.”

Dubinsky also acknowledges, however, that the phrase “dad joke” is sometimes used as a pejorative when someone makes a lame joke—and he believes there’s a specific intergenerational dynamic at work when it is. “One of the things about language is that we judge the sophistication of our peers by how sophisticated they are with use of language. Your smartest friends can use deadpan sarcasm, and your smartest friends can get it when you’redeadpanning sarcasm,” he says. So when someone makes a dumb or unsophisticated joke, they may be on the receiving end of some mild disapproval. Plus, it’s Dubinsky’s belief that every generation holds a somewhat disapproving opinion of the generation just before it. “They love their grandparents, but parents are just a chore and a pain,” he adds. “So one way to disrespect your parents is to note how unsophisticated their humor is.”

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The Dad-Joke Doctrine

Longreads Pick
Source: The Atlantic
Published: Sep 25, 2018
Length: 10 minutes (2,512 words)

My Dad Painted the Iconic Cover for Jethro Tull’s ‘Aqualung,’ and It’s Haunted Him Ever Since

Longreads Pick

With a handshake for a contract and a flat fee, a prominent realist painter created a problem that still bothers him at the end of his long successful career.


Source: The Outline
Published: May 10, 2018
Length: 18 minutes (4,648 words)