I am not a proud dad.

Let me restate that. I am a very proud dad. My kids are mostly grown up, and, with only one exception, they still have the body parts they started out with. None of them have a police record, thanks to the plea in abeyance thing, so, yeah, I am a little proud of that.

What I mean by the comment that I am not proud means that I am not picky. I will take whatever lame-o gift one of my kids comes up with. Shoe polish; any seven-in-one tool; duct tape in my favorite team's colors; a back-up lawn mower clippings bag from a yard sale. For me it's a badge of honor. I don't need it wrapped. I don't need a bow. You will never see my eyes roll or hear me say "It's the thought that counts." I like dad stuff.

I once got a coupon that had been folded and put in a plastic Easter egg. It was for 20 percent off all out-patient surgery so that when I get that thing removed I will not have to pay full price.

I couldn't stop smiling for a week.

The two-for-one adult braces card was awesome as well, though I don't know if that means for every tooth I have straightened I get one fixed for free, or if it means that when I get my over-bite adjusted my wife gets her hardware at a discount. Either way, cool and cool!

I keep all of my coupons written in crayons for hugs, free channel turning and lawn watering. Real coupons are great as well. The expiration dates don't really matter I have found. I have a pair of free tickets to Ghostbusters that I have had since 1984 and I plan on using them as soon as the remake comes out.

Coupons make your wallet look fat. Real dads are judged - and I don't care what Dr. Phil or Modern Macho Man Magazine says - by the size of their wallets. This becomes more important once your spouse has moved her way through "trophy wife" and into her "grandma" phase.

Coupons have saved the day for me more than once. Last week, for example, I re-gifted a fourth-tire-free coupon when we were late for a wedding reception. The groom didn't look at me funny like his bride did, because he knew a 75-dollar value when he saw one. He'll be a great dad.

And what is with this "Ties are silly and stereotypical gifts" thing? The neck tie is the quintessential, classic, typical standard — the strong, silent, always in-stock acknowledgement of a dude's masculinity.

It is a fine gift for a dad, and no one is going to deny me that. Please don't pretend that it's a joke that the tie is ugly. All ties are ugly on purpose. A guy in a bad tie is a father or a grandfather, and he wears such a tie with honor like a teen wears his prom tux to church the next day.

In fact, dads don't need a tie that is super soft or made of silk because they are probably going to check the oil with it anyway. The more plain and heavy-duty the fabric, the better. If it can be run under the faucet after taking the garbage cans out to the road or having been peed on while changing a diaper - that's a good tie.

And what real man says "No" to socks? Dads love socks. Though I myself prefer wool and polka dots, checks, chevron stripe, checkerboard, paisley or anything day-glow, I will wear them all - usually several times in a row because they never get matched back up and I won't see them again.

The present itself doesn't matter. Just remind me that I'm a dad, and that's the real gift.

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