DAD: It’s time you stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about others. Besides, making you suffer the same forced generosity that my parents inflicted on me, well, that’s just how catharsis works.
SON: I love helping the less fortunate, Dad, but—and perhaps this is a prejudice of my own—a soup kitchen full of schizophrenics sets my alarm bells ringing.
DAD: I never said you had to volunteer at a soup kitchen, Son. I just thought that hot soup and slippery linoleum were good character builders. But if there’s some other place you’d rather volunteer I’d be happy to discuss the implausibility of your choice.
SON: What if I worked for a peace organization?
DAD: Is that something you’d like to do?
DAD: Then no.
SON: What about an internship?
DAD: Are there scary-looking homeless people at this fantasy internship of yours? Because the word “volunteer” comes from the Latin word voluntarius, which translates into “If I’m not in danger, I’m probably not helping anyone but myself.”
SON: Do you remember when I’d do something wrong and you’d pull out your old medical books and tell me to pick a number?
DAD: I do.
SON: Then you’d turn to the corresponding page and say, “Ohh! You picked a good one: elephantiasis!” You’d point to a guy whose eyes were concealed by a black strip but who undoubtedly got recognized at parties by his basketball-sized scrotum and the wheelbarrow that contained it.
DAD: If you’re thinking about volunteering to be the wheelbarrow, then I think that’s a wonderful idea!
SON: Actually, I was just imagining how great it will be when I have kids of my own.
DAD: Son, you have no idea.