Trailing in all the Father of the Year polls, I decided to take my 14-year-old son, Kellen, to a swimsuit photo shoot. Fourteen is about when you start realizing that the annual swimsuit issue is not just something that gets in the way of your NHL coverage. Fourteen is about when you realize that the NHL coverage is getting in the way of your swimsuit issues.
Kellen is like a lot of teenage boys—a terrific kid, but inexplicable by science. How is it possible that sagging jeans four sizes too big somehow stay up on what are only rumors of hip bones? How does a person sleep only slightly longer than a drugged mastodon? How can a kid navigate a snowboard at 50 mph and then trip on a tiny crack in the kitchen tile?
So, Kellen and I found ourselves on a plane bound for Hawaii's North Shore, his young id unable to imagine the glories that lay ahead. He had finally stopped telling his buddies he was going. None of them believed him. His mom wasn't too sure about the trip, either, but we said we were doing it so we could both learn to surf.
"Yeah," said Kel. "Surf."
She didn't buy it for a second.
We landed at about 3 p.m. and got to the hotel about 4:30. "Kel," I said, "if you want, we can try to make the sunset shoot."
"Sure," he said, shrugging. "What else do we have to do?"
We walked about a mile along a deserted beach until we came to a craggy point. We climbed that and, beneath us, discovered thong paradise. There, on an impossibly beautiful beach, were impossibly gorgeous models, either 1) posing with nearly nothing on, 2) getting ready to pose with nearly nothing on or 3) changing nearly nothing swimsuits behind nearly nothing towels held by, sometimes, one another.
I looked at Kel. His eyes widened to the size of saucers. He tried to stay cool. We strolled down to the shoot, pretending that the all-you-can-see feast spread before us was nothing new. This was my fourth shoot, so I was a little used to it. But for a 14-year-old, six-foot, 150-pound man-child perched sweetly on the windowsill between Legos and Legs, it was knee-buckling, life-altering, vertebrae-snapping heaven. It got worse. The models started coming over to him. Turns out they thought he was kind of shy and cute. Pretty soon, women hot enough to ignite concrete were shaking Kel's hand with their right hands while trying to cover up their nude top halves with their lefts—and these were not the kind of halves easily covered up with one left hand.
Kel's eyes widened to the size of Frisbees. It got worse. One model was changing out of her suit behind a towel. When she kicked off her bikini bottom, it went flying in the air, did a 2� gainer and landed on Kel's shoulder. He grinned. She grinned. In many states she could do three to five for that. I was thinking that if she did it to me, I would gladly do the time.