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Father to sons

No better prose to quote (again) for Father’s Day than one of my favorite passages from John Cheever’s works. This is Leander Wapshot’s posthumous advice to his sons in The Wapshot Chronicle:

Never put whisky in hot water bottle crossing borders of dry states or countries. Rubber will spoil taste. Never make love with pants on. Beer on whisky, very risky. Whisky on beer, never fear. Never eat apples, peaches, pears, etc. while drinking whisky except long French-style dinners, terminating with fruit. Other viands have mollifying effect. Never sleep in moonlight. Known by scientists to induce madness. Should bed stand beside window on clear night draw shades before retiring. Never hold cigar at right-angles to fingers. Hayseed. Hold cigar at diagonal. Remove band or not as you prefer. Never wear red necktie. Provide light snorts for ladies if entertaining. Effects of harder stuff on frail sex sometimes disastrous. Bathe in cold water every morning. Painful but exhilarating. Also reduces horniness. Have haircut once a week. Wear dark clothes after 6 P.M. Eat fresh fish for breakfast when available. Avoid kneeling in unheated stone churches. Ecclesiastical dampness causes prematurely gray hair. Fear tastes like a rusty knife and do not let her into your house. Courage tastes of blood. Stand up straight. Admire the world. Relish the love of a gentle woman. Trust in the Lord.



Posted by John McIntyre at 1:29 PM | | Comments (8)


Another well-known paternal advisor is, of course, Polonius ...

Never put whisky in a Zippo. And if you do, never light a cigar with it.

"Never insult seven men when all you're packing is a six-gun." (Oh, wait. That was Zane Grey as quoted by Col. Potter.)

I like fear as tasting like a rusty knife. Even if I'm not - and never likely to be - a son.

Entertaining, but I wonder what the advice to daughters might look like.

I must add another caution, which is, that upon no account whatever you put your fingers, as too many people are apt to do, in your nose or ears. It is the most shocking, nasty, vulgar rudeness that can be offered to company; it disgusts one, it turns one's stomach; and, for my own part, I would much rather know that a man's finger were actually in his breech, than see them in his nose. Wash your ears well every morning, and blow your nose in your handkerchief whenever you have occasion: but, by the way, without looking at it afterwards. (Lord Chesterfield to his son).

How most brilliantly fitting that late yesterday young 22-year-old Ulsterman, Rory McILroy, native of Holywood (yes, w/ one "L"), Northern Eire, should win his very first major title, the 111th U.S. Open Championship at Congressional C.C. on Father's Day, no less.

Today's L.A. Times Sports section's front page has a huge close-up color photo of the victorious Rory embracing his white-haired dad, Gerry. The boyish, freckled-face, tousled-haired beaming young lad, is clearly overjoyed in sharing this most historic personal moment of triumph w/ a father who sacrificed so much in grooming this future champion.

(In his official post-final round press conference, Rory gave equal due credit to his dear mum, as well, for her selflessness, and support over his formative years in getting him to this rarefied level in the golfing world.)

Rory McILroy is now the youngest U.S. Open winner since the legendary Bobby Jones won his first of four Opens at 21, in 1923.

McILroy's golfing future looks very rosy, going forward. His naturally fluid, almost picture-perfect swing, his clear competitive desire to win, and the relaxed, and amiable way he approaches both the game and his fast growing legions of fans, young and old, has seemingly rejuvenated pro golf at a time when the veteran Tigers, Mickelsons, Loves, and Singhs, have fallen slightly off the radar, while a talented, powerful, charismatic breed of much younger golfers are taking center stage, and thriving.

Congrats to Rory.

What a true breath of fresh (Irish) air!


Wimbledon starts today. Whoopie!

The Williams sisters are back in the mix, although both are clearly rusty, having been out of competitive action for many months now due to major health issues.

Clijsters is out of the tournament because of a chronic injury, so one less high seed to worry about.

I'd love to see Maria Sharipova do well. Her play has been looking stronger, of late. Still dislike the grunting though.

Jed W., we could ask Susan Cheever. She seems to have turned out well.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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