THE ODDEST ODD COUPLE

Among the people I admire most are fathers and stunt men. If they seem like an odd couple, here's my reasoning. Both have complicated jobs. And yet, both are usually taken for granted. Fathers because they simply can't match the incredible role and reign of mothers in the lives of their children; stunt men because they simply can't match the dazzle and distinction of the stars in their movies.

So it is that fathers and stunt men sorta fade into the background. They're there. They're needed. But they usually don't get the family headlines or the marquee billings. Which for most of them is OK, because they should have known this coming in.

But now here's what neither of them could have known coming in. They will be casting some pretty large shadows over the lives of their children and their audiences. I mean, think about it. Kids watching their Dads looming large in their little lives as they drive cars. Carry heavy things. Repair broken stuff. And sometimes even caught kissing away Mommy's tears.

Pretty impressive stuff for a little tyke to behold. And -- unaware of Daddy's silent flaws -- to ever imagine matching. Still, how can there be anything so wrong with placing him on your own private pedestal? From where you can admire what you see and aspire to do likewise?

When it comes to those amazing stunt men -- well, here we have an upside and a downside. Upside, audiences can thrill to the bold, brave and heroic. We need people in our lives to occasionally do impossible things. Like leaping up to catch that home run shot....reaching the victim just before the villain....driving through crowded streets of enemies at impossible speeds always to succeed without ever harming a single pedestrian.

Impressive stuff. Especially for the young male animals in the audience who can't help envisioning themselves using such irrational violence to win the war and the girl in that patented happy ending. Unlike Dad, though, some of these antics might be better deferred than duplicated.

I'll never duplicate the impossible feats of improbable stunt men. And neither will you. But with a little luck and a lot of work, we might be able to duplicate the impossible feats we watched Dad perform. Funny, how I never imagined ever being older than him. And yet, in a strange way, I am. Now at 80, 50 long lonely years after he died at just 63....

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