Why couldn’t my bicycle stand up by itself? It was two tired!
It lies rusting in my garage, a reminder that everything once young and shining will rot.
I’m so good at sleeping, I can do it with my eyes closed!
Each night is a dress rehearsal for my inevitable fall into the abyss of eternity.
And each day I walk closer to the precipice while distracting myself with an office job that doesn’t matter, a family who treats me like an oaf, and an inane ritual of watching spandex-clad men give each other brain damage.
I wouldn’t buy anything with velcro. It’s a total rip-off.
My collection of dumb trinkets gives me a fleeting jolt of amusement, followed by the dull ache of time’s skeletal hand slowly tightening its grip.
Have you heard my joke about construction? I’m still working on it!
Other things I’m “still working on”:
- My jogging routine
- My unfinished basement man cave
- My screenplay, The Sad Dad Goes to Hollywood
I sleepwalk through life, a cold, twitching monster who recites the phrase “I’ll start tomorrow” like scripture, the twinkle in my eyes growing duller by the day.
But, yeah, I’ll finish my joke about construction any day now, and everyone will love it. Sure.
I like telling dad jokes. Sometimes he even laughs! He’s developed that kind of hollow, mechanical laugh of someone who’s just going through the motions.
I know that one day I will become him. And as my mind withers into dust, some fat, middle-aged version of my son will pity me for a moment before stuffing his face with Cheez-Its.
A furniture store keeps calling me… but all I wanted was a one-night stand!
While I chased ephemeral pleasures in my youth, a kingdom of dependable furniture stood in plain sight that I was too blind to appreciate. Then one day the calls stopped.
I called back and pleaded, “Please! I no longer want a one-night stand. I’ll take one of those nice leather couches that last forever!”
“The furniture store is closed,” a voice replied. “We are now a graveyard. But unfortunately, we’re fully booked… people are just dying to get in!”
“Who are you?” I asked.
“Me? I’m nobody. In fact, I used to work at a corporate shoe chain… and let’s just say it was sole-destroying!”
“I don’t care,” I shot back. “I want that couch!”
“Couch? I suggest you look ahead. In fact, I had a neck brace fitted years ago… and I’ve never looked back since!”
“Damnit, who the hell are you!?” I demanded.
“Never mind that. But ask yourself this,” he replied. “Why are elevator jokes so good?”
“Because they work on many levels!” we shouted in unison.
I dropped the phone and collapsed on the ground, shaking and crying. “Some ASSHOLE is stealing my jokes! And he’s doing it wrong. You’re supposed to add a SAD part at the end!” I shouted to an empty room and a gnawing sense that I would never get that couch.
“I am terrified of elevators. I’m going to start taking steps to avoid them!”
My son looks up from the dinner table and interjects: “Yeah, that was the last thing Grandpa said… right before he died on an escalator!”
I feel pride at first, then the creeping realization that I’ll soon be replaced.
When does a joke become a dad joke? When it becomes apparent!
As my shtick becomes thin and tired, I struggle to transcend the self-imposed limitations of my genre.
“Turns out it’s easier to rattle off dismissive one-liners about how nothing matters than it is to build something beautiful,” I say to my wife. “But I’m tired of feeling perpetually hopeless and pretending like my thoughts are the universe’s fault. It’s not original.”
“Don’t break character,” she says. “It doesn’t heighten your dad jokes well, and it’s not what your audience expects.”
“What do they expect, then, Susan?”
“The usual. Darkness. Despair. Nihilism. Maybe a quip about how pizza is a little cheesy and it reminds you of your own creeping cultural irrelevance. Maybe something about how atoms make up everything but they’re mostly dead, empty space? Oh! I know. ‘Make up everything’ could be a pun about how we all lie to ourselves constantly, and…”
She rambles on with joke pitches, but I tune out.
And it dawns on me that our genres are like our accidental children: with us to the end.