No fan of Father's Day, I have laid down the law in our house: no celebration of dads this Sunday. No ties, no tees, no BVDs. It's not that I'm against that ancient dictum, honor thy parents. I'm just against setting aside specific holidays for lauding loved ones. Fathers -- and mothers and sons and daughters -- should be exalted every day of the year.
Having said that, let us now praise famous men-single fathers. The Web offers solace and advice to these underappreciated, sometimes overwhelmed men at sites such as the Single Fathers' Lighthouse and the Single Dad's Index .
Jim O'Kane, for instance, who nurses computer networks for British Aerospace in Chantilly, Va., has two kids -- James, who'll be 15 the day after Father's Day, and Katie, who is 8.
O'Kane, 38, got divorced in 1993. The kids' mother lives in Oregon; O'Kane has custody. "I kind of cringe when I hear the term 'deadbeat dad,' " O'Kane says on the phone, "It's easy to write, alliterative. Dads whom I know, though, care about their kids. It's a difficult life."
To find the fun in the function, O'Kane created the TV Single Dads Hall of Fame a couple of years ago. He's put a lot of thought into this well-crafted site that honors shows such as "Flipper," "Batman" and "Jonny Quest." For example, O'Kane has laid out four cardinal rules of the TV Single Dad. He must be:
1) the sole parent and obviously participate in providing for his children's well-being. Ben Cartwright on "Bonanza" fit the bill, even though his sons were grown men.
2) the head of the household in which his children live. "Grandpa on 'The Munsters' is knocked out of contention on this list," O'Kane writes, "because, although he is Lily's father, Herman Munster is the head of the house Grandpa lives in. Fred Sanford qualifies, however, even though it appears that his son, Lamont, is actually keeping the roof over their heads on 'Sanford and Son.' "
3) a Single Dad for most of the run of the TV series. "Face it," argues O'Kane, "without this rule, Mike Brady would qualify as a Single Dad even though he stopped being a Single Dad 20 minutes into Episode One of 'The Brady Bunch.' On 'Coach', however, the remarried character Hayden Fox does count, because for the majority of the series he was a Single Dad."
4) a parentguardian, not just a mentor: The Skipper on "Gilligan's Island," says O'Kane, is not Gilligan's father "in any way, shape, nor form. The rules get bent a little, though, when you come to someone like Jesse Duke on 'The Dukes of Hazzard'; after all, he has been the guardian of nephews Bo and Luke Duke and niece Daisy Duke. They've all grown up, but they still live at Uncle Jesse's farm, where he continues to provide room and board."
O'Kane launched the site as a lark, he says, but soon realized that more than 80 TV shows, past and present, revolve around Single Dads. "The reality is not as carefree. It's scary, but it's the way things are," he says. "My real life is more like the way single moms are portrayed on TV. I can't afford to have a maid or a manservant to take care of the house."
He says he must be there whenever his kids need someone, "which is most of the time."
Through his Web site, he's met a sweetheart, a single mother, in Massachusetts. Right now, he says, the couple is "geographically challenged."
He adds, "She has two kids. We're always bringing up the 'Brady Bunch' scenario."
-- Getting There: The Single Fathers' Lighthouse at av.qnet.com/~rlewis3/index.html; Single Dad's Index at www.vix.com/pub/men/single-dad.html and TV Single Dads Hall of Fame at www.user.shentel.net/jimokane/tvdad1.html.
-- Linton Weeks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org