Wake up, Dad, I have something to discuss with you. This may sound harsh, but you’ve left me no choice: I am firing you from our father-son acrobatics duo. Please know that this is not personal and I am not angry with you. Just disappointed.
We could have been one of greatest acts of all time. A middle-aged son spinning and tossing his aging father around like a bag of laundry? It would have been an entertainment spectacle like no other! I believed in this project. I believed in it so much that—despite having no acrobatics training whatsoever—I quit looking for a job. I devoted myself full-time to developing our act. When I repeatedly asked you to participate and you eventually stopped saying “no” as much, I assumed that you were just as committed as I was.
But apparently I was mistaken. Now, when you say things like, “Put me down. I just want to enjoy my retirement,” or “I’m 72! You’re hurting my legs!” I have to question your dedication to father-son acrobatics.
For forty-five years, you toiled as a CPA, eventually founding your own successful accounting firm. I don’t understand why you can’t you bring that same work ethic to a late-in-life second career as a performance gymnast. You claim that you “don’t have time” to practice five hours a day. Yet, I notice you have time to keep finishing those non-fiction books about trains. You say you’re “too scared” to do simple a forward roll. Well, excuse me if I have trouble believing this from the guy who served in Vietnam! You say you think your arm “might be broken” from when you flew into the bookcase (which, despite what you may say, was BOTH of our faults). Well I hate to tell you, Dad, but something else “might be broken” too: my trust in you.
Right at the beginning, we (I) decided that you needed to lose thirty pounds. To date, you have only lost fifteen. You are still too heavy for me to twirl around like a pizza for the acrobatic move I invented called “Pizza Dad.” In fact, every time we attempt this, you end up flying right into the bookcase.
Sadly, “Pizza Dad,” like so many other acrobatic feats I envisioned for our unique act (“The Sire Flyer,” “Daddy Strong-legs,” “Frisbee Dad,” etc.) remains unrealized. In fact, the only trick we can reliably perform is the one where I unexpectedly shove you, and you trip over a low-to-the-ground object like a chair or a suitcase (“Pop’ll Topple”).
No audience will want to see “Pop’ll Topple” more than eight or ten times, which means that after months of training, we don’t have an act at all. All we have to show for our efforts are matching unitards and a few minutes of stage banter that are way less funny than they could be since you refuse to use curse words.
This is why I am forced to let you go.
Though you have been fired, please don’t worry. I will not let all of my time and your money that I’ve invested in this project go to waste. I still believe in the idea of intergenerational acrobatics, and I plan on moving forward with the project.
That is why today I will begin auditioning older Caucasian men that I can easily heft to fill the “father” role in the act. Unfortunately, I will need you to return your monogrammed unitard and ID card. I will also need you to hide during the auditions because in the Craigslist ad I said that my real dad died.
Note: I still love you and this does not affect your status on our father-son snowboarding team, which you are still on and can’t quit.
Tom O’Donnell’s young-adult novel Space Rocks! will be published in February of 2014.