Last November, I became the proud owner of a brand-new tiny human child.
That’s to say, I’m a dad now. But have I actually become a dad in the transformative sense? Is it my identity? I suppose that’s not entirely up to me to determine. Fatherhood just sort of happens to you, even if it was planned well in advance. And if you do it right, it’s supposed to fundamentally alter your DNA.
Certainly, I have changed in several tangible ways over the past seven months. I was already a very tired person, but now I start at exhausted and decline from there. I have no qualms left about getting covered in basically any body fluid. I hear phantom crying everywhere I go. And I’m far less self-conscious about being a doofus in public—if it makes my son laugh, I’ll make whatever weird-ass noise required. Also, I proudly wear a pastel-pink Babybjörn to the park a few times a week. No one can tell me shit.
But still: Have I truly become a dad, or am I merely exhibiting dadlike behavior?
Father’s Day seems like an ideal time to make a determination. So I decided to try some products marketed specifically at dads—some local, others universal—to see if they hit different now that my life is controlled by a smiling, screaming, 2-foot-tall sack of sentient mashed potatoes.
Baerlic Brewing’s Dad Beer
If there was truth in advertising calibrated to my personal experience growing up, then this would simply be a can of Michelob Light. Alas, this is a craft brewery’s interpretation of the kind of “easy drinkin’” lager dads presumably enjoy while fixing the lawnmower or tarring the roof or whatever, so it’s still a bit more complex than anything your own dad actually drank. The label clarifies that this beer is actually closer to what “your great grandpappy used to drink in the 1880s,” which doesn’t exactly jibe with the “notes of ripe fruit, fresh cut spring flowers and citrus” it also advertises. (Remember, Pabst was considered a “blue ribbon beer” in the 1880s.) In any case, my IPA-chuggin’ days are far behind me, and that 4.8% ABV is much more along the lines of what I’m looking for these days.
Get it from: Baerlic Brewing, 2239 SE 11th Ave., 503-477-9418, baerlicbrewing.com.
Dad Grass CBD Pre-Rolls
Similar to Dad Beer, the idea behind Dad Grass is that it’s an interpretation of the weed our parents used to smoke—meaning, not that potent. But while previous generations were forced to make due with whatever bag of sticks and pencil shavings they could get their hands on, in the rec era, when THC levels continue to bound upward, barely-there highs are a selling point. I’ve never had much success with CBD, nor have I necessarily cared to: I’ve smoked exclusively to zonk myself out enough to get to sleep, and if I’m going to step foot in a dispensary, I’m going to pick up something that’ll at least make Saturday Night Live funny. But despite being below the THC threshold to be federally legal, these joints actually made me feel something—a gentle tingle along the lines of a hot tub soak, with just the faintest trace of a head change. It’s pretty much exactly how I’m looking to feel in the three hours between the kid’s bedtime and going to sleep myself, which is much easier than it used to be. My daily life is a fog now as it is—I don’t need to make it any cloudier.
Get it from: dadgrass.com
Salt & Straw’s Pack of Cold Ones
Is ice cream inherently a dad thing? My own father was more of a cookie man. Perhaps to make its nationally popular wares more palatable to the patriarchy, Salt & Straw has partnered with five breweries for a limited-edition set of beer-infused ice cream. Modern Times’ Nola Coffee Stout, for instance, uses stout wort and cacao nibs, while Breakside Brewery’s Half and Half Crunch incorporates the same grains from its barrel-aged Dark Cabaret stout. As much as I’ve dunked on Salt & Straw’s overly complicated approach to ice cream over the years—I’ve made enough “arugula-lavender with goat’s blood and crushed diamonds” jokes for one career—most of the collabs work great. Well, except for Wynwood Brewing’s Mango Habanero flavor, whose fruitiness does little to cut the spice. My suddenly old and fragile palate couldn’t handle it.
Get it from: saltandstraw.com
Portland Gear’s Dad Hat
When you no longer have the time or energy to think about how you dress, fashion becomes purely functional, which is how you end up wearing a floppy baseball cap with an adjustable strap in the back every day until the kid graduates high school. Like nearly all of Portland Gear’s merch, this one simply has a letterman jacket-style “P” embroidered on it, which could stand for “Portland” or “Papa Roach” or “Pizza Rolls.” Who the hell cares? As long as it keeps the sun out of your eyes at the local playground or on the Jimmy Buffett cruise, it’s doing the Lord’s work. Although $30 is pretty steep for something you could buy at a tackle shop for $10.
Get it from: Portland Gear, 627 SW 19th Ave., 503-437-4439, portlandgear.com.
Still don’t get it.