I have spent the past week watching over my daughter as the virtual sole caretaker. Through it all, I was aiming for greatness.
When it comes to watching over and caring for their daughters, fathers seek to create a lifelong bond with their female offspring built upon trust, protection and fond moments of truly connecting on the deepest of levels that will remain with us for the rest of our lives.
This is not easy. Perhaps this ideal is impossible and is best portrayed not in reality, but in the dreamscape of television and movies. Some fathers in the real world aim to equal fictional icons like Danny Tanner on “Full House,” those two dads from “My Two Dads,” or maybe even Steve Martin in “Father of the Bride.” I, however, shoot for the best display of fatherhood ever committed to film: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s heartwarming and awe-inspiring depiction of daddy dearest in his role as John Matrix in 1985’s “Commando.”
Most people who have seen this movie remember it fondly for its high body count and fantastic (some say cheesy, I say fantastic) one-liners dispensed from Arnold Schwarzenegger at a pace nearly as rapid as his fully automatic machine gun spits out deadly rounds at his victims-to-be. What many forget is that this story is perhaps the greatest exhibition of a father’s love for his daughter ever, fiction or reality.
While this theme ultimately centers upon merciless revenge enacted upon hundreds of people for conspiring to kidnap his daughter, Schwarzenegger truly shows what it means to be “dear old dad” in the early and oft-forgotten scenes of this cinematic masterpiece.
If you watch the first 10 minutes of the film, you will lay eyes upon scenes that every father desires to reenact with his own daughter, no matter how old they are. Matrix takes his daughter Jenny (played by Alyssa Milano) out for ice cream. She playfully shoves the cone of frozen dairy product into his nose as Schwarzenegger sheepishly smiles and returns the favor. They laugh. They love. They bond.
Matrix and daughter Jenny play in the swimming pool and, being the strongest dude in Hollywood — and the world — Schwarzenegger tosses Milano from his shoulders up into the air and splashing back into their backyard pool several times over. They laugh. They love. They bond.
Later, Milano whips up a batch of sandwiches made from leftovers in the fridge. Arnold obliges his daughter’s effort and chokes down the bread and mystery meat while cracking a joke about Boy George (“Why don’t they just call him Girl George?”). We laugh. They love. They bond.
Perhaps most touching of all, they are seen feeding a young deer in the hills of southern California and nurturing the sweet fawn with a tenderness that almost, ALMOST, undoes the evil wrought by mankind unto deer in cinema-lore like Bambi. I cry tears of incredulous joy. I love. They love. They bond.
We never find out what happened to John Matrix’s wife or why she is not featured in the movie, but can presumably believe she was attending a week-long workshop in Cambodia as my wife was during my own personal Commando adventure.
Well, this is a high standard to reach, but I made it my goal. Being that I had a week to match Schwarzenegger blow-for-blow, I thought I stood a pretty good chance. We swam. And we swam some more. And, like John Matrix, I threw my baby daughter as high as I possibly could. In doing so, I am sure I gained her trust by showing that I can catch her before she plummets to the bottom of the pool. And we bonded (I think).
We ate ice cream. Being that there was an inordinate amount of hot fudge on our homemade sundae, I opted to avoid the messy cleanup that shoving this in Gemma’s face would incur. She still managed to spill enough during the eating of ice cream so that a ring of fudge formed around her mouth, which counts as a Matrix-Jenny point in my book. And we bonded (I think).
As wild deer are almost unheard of in urban Dhaka, Gemma and I pretended to feed some goldfish in our small manmade fountain located in front of our apartment building and I chalked that up as being close enough to the Matrix-Jenny principle. And we bonded (I think).
Luckily for us, our own Commando reenactment ended much earlier than the actual movie, where Alyssa Milano is kidnapped and held as ransom to force Arnold Schwarzenegger to kill a president of some unknown Caribbean banana republic country. And we all know how that ended up.
In all, it was a great week with my baby girl and I look forward to continuing my journey toward reaching the heights of fatherhood that only few like John Matrix have reached before.
Here’s kind of what it looked like: And, unlike Schwarzenegger, I wrote a lame blog post about it, so perhaps I have one-upped the living legend.