“It is a magic worm!!!” I cry in delight.
I am not sure what to add to this, so there is a brief pause. “This is the best Father’s Day ever,” I assure everybody, diplomatically. My eyes scan the room – there is a lack of other big manly presents, such as shaving equipment or CDs of driving music.
I open my magic worm. It is a three-inch long strip of cloth, with two printed eyes on sticky paper. There is a very fine thread that you must tie to the nose of the worm, and then apparently you can make the worm appear to crawl along and up and over your hands and body by subtly jerking this invisible lead. The instructions don’t exactly say ‘amaze your family and friends!’ but that is their gist.
The Toddler is enthralled. The LTLP gives me an apologetic glance in an ‘I haven’t had the chance to go to the shops’ sort of way, but I am determined to make the most of my new magic worm.
“Later on this special father’s day, my darling,” I purr, fixing her with my smooth gaze, “I thought I might show you my other magic worm.”
The LTLP withdraws her apologetic glance.
I sit at the table and try to affix the invisible thread to the magic worm’s nose. My fingers are strong and agile, but are built for strumming the banjo and playing bowls rather than affixing invisible thread to magic worms, and I shout and swear as the knot keeps slipping. I try to grasp the thread tightly between fingernails, but it keeps looping away from me and then I have to scrabble on the table for it, what with it being invisible. Fifteen minutes later, thread is finally affixed to worm, but by this point its eyes have fallen off and the Toddler is interested in something else.
“Look! Look! Magic Worm!” I cry, clutching the invisible thread in my left hand and moving my arm rapidly up and down to make the worm jump on the spot. The worm jumps on the spot. Unfortunately, the thread might indeed be invisible, but the correlation between the worm jumping up and down and my arm moving up and down would fool none but the thickest infant. I try to make the worm wriggle on my hand, but it slips and hangs, suspended by invisible-but-obvious-it’s-there thread.
Booooooo – I am a rubbish puppeteer. I will never get a job on the Muppets now.
I never really believed in father’s day gifts until I became a father myself and could suddenly see its full profundity. It is a bit like the way ‘World’s Best Dad’ mugs are barf-inducing until you get one yourself. But I think it is important that men should get at least one day in the year when they are fussed over a bit and don’t have to do everything in the world.
I thank the Toddler for my magic worm. She is only young, and I am grateful to her. But she will have to raise her game in future.