My dad’s been a chemistry teacher for nearly 20 years. He fits the bill exact—a little bumbling, a little overenthusiastic, but endlessly in love with his craft. His passion for steady state quantum mechanics and keto-enol tautomerism reactions—though sadly lost on me—have defined him as a scientist, as a man.
And now he’s writing a chemistry textbook. But something new and tight and human—unlike the lumpy texts he’s been teaching out of for years. Each time I call home now, he’s bursting with the electricity of new research. Did you know Dalton wasn’t the original atom guy? And there’s this experiment he can’t get over—he’ll draw it for me so I can see. And oh, is he enjoying the writing.
It’s amazing. My dad—who’s also a poet with a fondness for Ted Kooser and Wallace Stevens—can’t seem to contain himself within this project. It compels him forward to the point where I don’t think he could stop if he wanted to. (But why would he want to?!)
And here’s the thing: this is a story any one of us could tell about our fathers, our friends, ourselves. (Though probably minus the keto-enol tautomerisms.) We all have a project—a thousand projects—that swim around, just waiting to break the surface. Most of them die quietly in the detritus of daily life—but when they do break the surface, great things could happen. Or, at the very least, great happiness.
Which is why I’m willing to exploit my dad’s story to talk about a campaign meant to sell pants. Dockers (yes, the khakis) has put together what they call the “Wear the Pants Project.” It’s a social media campaign to motivate men around the nation to pitch a project they’ve wanted to get off the ground … with the chance to win $100,000 (after tax mind you!) to fund that project”. Or, a weekly “Man Grant,” which is essentially $2,000 (in services, tools, resources, and cash) each week from now through the end of November 2011.
According to their mission:
The projects can be whatever a man (or woman) wants to do—from launching their own business, to producing that movie, or designing and building surfboards—just provided they are stepping up to the plate and doing something they love.
The contest details can be found on the Wear the Pants Facebook fan page but the rules are pretty simple. Pitch your project in under 400 words and then get your friends, family, and mysterious patrons to vote for you.
I’m usually wary of contests like this. Good causes and corporate interests are an uneasy pairing in my book. But if it means that someone out there can gain one tenth of the satisfaction I see in my dad when he’s telling me about his work, then yeah. I think I can get behind this one. (But if the winner ends up being a guy whose passion is khaki-sewing … I’m out.)
Interested? Check out the full contest specs here.