I turned a corner today. I dodged over a wide metal grate, stuck the landing, a hard left, and continued my run onto Main Street. The hot sun and even hotter asphalt compressed me like a vise. Instead of flattening me out into a soupy pancake, the oppressive force of the heat shot me ahead faster and out into the middle of bedlam: all the traffic on Main Street was parked. Sideways. At that moment, for me, time stopped—utterly stopped. I’d swear to that under oath.

Hoods were popped open. Cars were aligned in neat rows, and in an even neater circle around the town gazebo, like so many penises on display.

The vehicles (most of questionable pedigree) generally went unacknowledged by the clusters of white people seated in lawn chairs and motorcycles.

Firefighters swaggered—and stumbled—around.

Skynyrd was peeling the paint off of the Wild West style false-fronts of the town’s more “historic” buildings.

Someone forgot to tell me that “Father’s Day” meant “The South Will Rise Again.”

I’d like to believe that I’m reasonably well informed but the day’s festivities were unknown to me—until I crashed headfirst into them. (I’d also like to believe that I run like Prefontaine.)

Of course, I’d really also like to believe that I don’t understand why people, in a place whence you can literally see Canada on a clear day, feel the need to fly Confederate flags. Preserving their history, I’m sure.

But the whole moment crystallized a bizarre thought in my mind: Mother’s Day is an occasion for celebrating Northern stereotypes while Father’s Day meshes seamlessly with Southern ones.

Granted, that’s not a hypothesis I’d stand and die on. I don’t even believe in Red or Blue states, so Mason-Dixon identities are a bit of a stretch for me.

Nor do I believe that the South is inherently more macho. While “posturing up” is a frequent cultural response by disenfranchised males, who find that masculinity (embracing sexism and racism) is perhaps the one thing they can possess, one would be hard pressed to draw a line across America where that behavior starts and stops; only the most arrogant of Yankees could live in that much denial.

The “Southern” consciousness, if it exists, certainly has its own share of cozy and quaint traditions. Many of them enforce femininity to an absurd degree, theatrically struggling towards the sublime. Of course, the more masculine ones don’t dwell on those traditions being so—well—French.

Nevertheless, it’s something to think about: there might be as many NASCAR moms as there are dads out there, but Mother’s Day is still a quiet lunch out in our fancy clothes. Mother’s Day is a neatly penned note on a Hallmark card. When ordered and rendered ideally, it’s a day for sissy sons and dutiful daughters.

Father’s Day is when Best Buy and Circuit City unload expensive electronics for Dad-N-Grads. It’s a day of Rambo and Clint Eastwood marathons. Father’s day is for having “catches, ” with Spike TV even holding a contest to get families to bond through ball tossing: choice season tickets for the dad and tyke with the best photos. It’s a day when Main Street closes and cars park sideways.

There were leather pants. I repeat: Leather pants were worn.

Yes, Mother’s Day is feminine and Father’s Day is masculine. I am painfully aware that I am stating the obvious here. But more than that:

It is interesting to note how closely, in the United States, the two occasions mirror the sundry notions we have over our own cultural identity. We’re all Nancy-Yankees on Mother’s Day. But on Father’s Day, the South always rises.

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