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Mario and Me

Courtesy of Penguin Group

For someone whose last name isn’t Lopez, I sure have a lot in common with Mario Lopez. For starters, he’s in amazing shape, and I have an amazing shape. But here’s the best similarity: We’ve both made a career out of good fertility.

As a dad writing about a topic traditionally covered by moms, I’m treated like the ultimate rarity, a four-leaf clover stapled to Halley’s Comet. As a result, I’ve got a dad column, a dad blog, and a dad book (next comes my dad cologne, Me and Uterus). Lopez is a procreation powerhouse as well. In November 2010 Mario Lopez: Saved by the Baby, a reality show about the TV personality prepping for first-time fatherhood, debuted on VH1. He recently released Extra Lean Family, a health-and-wellness book targeted to parents. Did I mention he also penned the children’s book Mud Tacos?

“It wasn’t a strategic move,” says Lopez, who comes from a large Mexican family. “Fathers who embrace the role of parent are looked at as an endangered species, so there are more opportunities for guys like us.”

Here’s where our similarities diverge: fame. He has 195,000 followers on Twitter; I have 125. (If only I could get everyone in Erie, PA, to follow me, we’d be even.) Although he does have a normal side—no nanny at the Lopez household, and the dude is home pretty regularly by 6 p.m.—certainly celebrity has improved his life as a parent. Doesn’t a reality-show camera crew following you 24/7 encourage you to be the best version of yourself? I mean, we’ve all had moments we’re glad aren’t on tape. I know I have. (See: this morning, yesterday morning, last Saturday, last night, probably tonight.) “That sounds like being on a first date every day,” Lopez says with a laugh. “That would get pretty tiring after a while.” Don’t the paparazzi sharpen that manly territorial instinct? “You’d be miserable trying to fight them,” he adds. 

At first I wasn’t buying it, but then it hit me: Parents are celebrities. We’re both in a lifelong club: Celebs can never become un-famous, and dads can never become un-fathered. We both have an audience that loves us, but for parents, our fan club won’t ever go away (well, at least until college). And friends and family are the best parts of a reality-TV crew and paparazzi: They keep us in check without selling our secrets to TMZ.

So for now, I’m sticking with anonymity. Of course, if I ever change my mind, I can always make a viral video of me smoking with an Indonesian baby on a weather balloon with Charlie Sheen.

Mario Lopez's book Extra Lean Family is ranked #10,078 on Amazon.com. Shawn's book Show Dad How is ranked #8,856. Not that he's keeping score or anything.

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