Register Monday | December 5 | 2022

Hot Dads in the City

"There are so many of them. Hordes in Montreal alone, it seems."

The lexicon for sexiness—or lack thereof—covers a broad spectrum of age groups. There are the infamous Cougars, for example: older, single women on the prowl. Identifiable by their leather pants, Cougars can be found in many St. Catherine Street bars wearing leadlike eyeliner and surrounded by cigarette butts ringed with orange, burgundy or purple lipstick (which may or may not match their hair dye of choice). To call a lady a Cougar is not very kind. And most young lads who go around doing so would not dare utter such a name to her face. Cougars, naturally, are fierce.

There are the renards d’argents, too. A specialty in Quebec, these silver-headed men fancy themselves foxy; they slyly roam the streets looking for—and strangely often getting—action. A successful renard d’argent might remind you of Sean Connery. A less winning example might be Michael Douglas (on and off set).

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the ever-commented-upon Yummy Mommy. Ever since a heavily pregnant Demi Moore bared her nude profile on the cover of Vanity Fair, it has been indisputable that a woman with child is a sexy sight. The people who make maternity clothes caught on, and the pregnant belly was accentuated and revered. As it bloody well should be. When the babies are born, the moms glow with that calm, satisfied look of happy motherhood—their Yummy Mummy status remains

But what of the loving boyfriends and husbands of these glowing ladies? We know they exist—there is proof to that effect—but no one is talking about the Hot Dad. And there are so many of them. Hordes in Montreal alone, it seems. I have been strolling the streets inhaling the springtime air—full of promise and those little bits of white pollen—and admiring, taking note of the many Hot Dads that live in this city.

The Hot Dad is young—maybe tanned and relaxed, wearing lazy-looking flip flops—and doesn’t hold a baby like a football in midair. He lies in a park with the wee one on his chest. He is a strolling proud papa, happy to be wandering the Plateau, the épiceries of NDG, the espresso bars of Mile End avec bébé. He is hip and cool, but doesn’t look like he is trying to be either. The Hot Dad is not afraid to wear a Snuggly. Maybe it is just that I am starting to notice the upper echelon of the cute-guy spectrum. You know, the more solid, future-conscious guys. The boyfriend-material guys. Guys you might want to have a baby with (when you turn thirty).

Or could it be that there are just more cute dads around? In Montreal it is especially heartening to watch, because you can see that families are actually choosing to stay in this wonderful town. The Canada Census of 2001 established that the population of Montreal is actually on the rise. Gone are the boarded-up shops on the Main, gone are the $100 rents, the brewing referenda, the head-office migrations. This ville is a happening place. All those people who came to be hip for a while in their early twenties are still here: pushing thirty and pairing up and walking through Jeanne Mance Park with their little bilingual babies who wear American Apparel.

The Hot Dad is an especially interesting attraction because what makes him so very attractive is that he is paying absolutely no attention to you. And while this is usually an extremely irritating quality in a man who’s caught your eye, when it is a Hot Dad it is a bonus. In fact, if a Hot Dad actually did check you out, he would suddenly not be so hot after all. He would be a sleazy and unfaithful boyfriend, a neglectful father* unworthy of your attention.

The taken Hot Dad, though, is not focused on you, but on his baby—who is usually happily tucked away in the Baby Bjorn or (if a toddling child) has his or her legs dangling over dad’s shoulders. One of the nicest things to think when this Hot Dad breezes past you is that Hot Mom—you are just sure of it—is hanging out on some terrace sipping martinis or café au laits, having a laugh with her friends. Or maybe having some alone time sans papa et bébé. So really, what is so nice about Hot Dad is how nice he is being to mom. And what a nice time she must be having in nice surroundings. It is all so very nice.

Perhaps seeing more Hot Dads around means that more fathers are having one-on-one time with their kids. They are not too busy with the 9-5, or too scared of screaming infants to go it alone; they brave the uber-cool Plateau with a soother, a stroller and some breast-pumped milk. So maybe all that sensitive-men-of-the-nineties stuff worked and guys don’t have to be macho. These guys are hip, hot and happening Dads. They are not Adam Sandler (aka Big Daddy) wannabes using a baby to pick up chicks—Adam Sandler? Please. That Big Daddy would have a lot of competition in this town.

*Unless he is a hot single dad, which raises another issue altogether: Do you date the Hot Single Dad? My friend Ella recently bumped into a Moderately Hot Dad at a children’s softball game. He was there to watch his seven-year-old. Just when the Dad was being a bit flirty and talking to Ella, the daughter stomped over and yelled, “But Dad, you said you would look at me!” Such single Dads are to be approached with caution.

Emma Appleby is a fabulous force on the Montreal scene. Read more recent columns by Emma Appleby.