Tales of fathers, psycho killers, bulimic swimmers and non-believers

FATHER ALONG: Nobody knows how to be a parent. When people enter adulthood and see the rest of life yawning ahead, they look at this parenthood thing and cringe. How the fuck am I supposed to do that? A young friend once said he thought he might not be a good parent because wasn’t very good with his dog. I didn’t say anything, but I thought, “Dude – trust me. It’s different.”

I’m a father of seven and I’m still trying to figure out this shit. No. 7 is just as perplexing as No. 1. What worked for No. 2 doesn’t faze No. 5 at all.

But one thing I’m pretty sure about: You only begin to understand the profound depth of love when you become a parent. At least, it was that way for me.

And it seems like it was that way for Michael Lewis too, based on Home Game (W.W. Norton, $23.95). Lewis sees himself as a Yuppie curmudgeon and was dragged kicking and screaming by his wife – former MTVer Tabitha Soren – into life as a daddy. Once he joined the club, there was anger, resentment and self-pity. But then he seemed to get it.

That ideal family of television situation comedies does not exist. Families are complex organisms and parenthood ain’t pretty. The best we can do is try and certainly it’s a parent’s duty to protect children and let them be children as long as they can.

Lewis has the usual neuroses and then some. The majority of parents probably fall in love with their child at first sight (if they haven’t already loved the idea of the child in utero).

In Lewis’s case, the first baby arrived and . . . nothing. Or, at least, next to nothing. He doesn’t feel the overwhelming wallop of emotion he’s been told to expect.

So Home Game is sort of a running diary of growing into love. No one will accuse Lewis of being overly sentimental, but he does achieve a cumulative, deep resonance of love in this book.

There’s a holiday coming up on June 21 that honors fathers. This might be a great gift for the old man. If he isn’t much of a reader, it’s cool; Home Game clocks in at just under 200 pages, and it has pictures. Oh – and did we mention that Michael Lewis is a brilliant writer? He’ll get pop over the hump.