Back in high school, one of my dreams was to become a stand-up comic.
I would sit in class and watch my fellow schoolmates and teachers and take mental notes of bits I would deliver to an adoring crowd. I pictured myself in a bolo tie and shoulder pads, clutching a microphone as I paced the stage and occasionally paused for a sip of water in between jokes. I watched stand-ups on TV, stayed up on Saturday nights for Late Night At The Apollo, rented videos featuring Dennis Wolfburg, Paula Poundstone, Dennis Miller, practiced my impressions on my friends. I became enamored with a person's ability to have an audience rolling the aisles, and decided that one day I too would be up there, in the spotlight, shrouded by a fog of cigarette smoke and the drunken haze of onlookers, delivering punchline after punchline, the mother of immaculate timing and funky suspenders.
And then, of course, I realized that my stage presence peaked in sixth grade, and I am now more terrified of speaking in front of an audience than I am of being eaten by a shark (my previous Number One Fear). Which is probably why I'm a writer.
If I ever were to perform a stand-up routine now, however, I'm pretty sure my jokes would be all about having kids. In fact, if you'll indulge me for a few minutes, I think I'll practice a few lines on my dear readers. (And my apologies if this sounds like a Seinfeld routine; I'm on my second cup of half-caff, the kids are pinching each other instead of eating the banana and M&M pancakes I just made them, and the dog keeps scratching to come inside but his paws are covered with wet grass and I just don't feel like getting a towel and wiping them off right now....)
So what's the deal with you kids eating off the floor? What, does your food taste that much better once it's got some bacteria, crumbs and dog-hair stuck to it? Was it missing that extra kick of Play-Doh flecks? Maybe I should stir some dust bunnies into the sauce next time and save you the trouble of flinging it onto the ground, clamoring down from your booster seat and eating it from the tile.
And what is it with you wanting to watch the same movie ten times in a row? Is your short-term memory really that crappy? Don't you remember the story-arc, climax and conflict-resolution you literally just saw three hours ago? Do you really like seeing Bambi's mother getting popped off by a heartless hunter over and over? Or hearing Mater's catch phrases ad nauseum? Because I sure don't.
What is so funny about interjecting the word "Poopy" into every freaking conversation? Seriously, is it the sound of the word itself that tickles you so, or do you sneak such language into discussions about the weather and your day at school just to see if I'm paying attention? I know you've only been on the planet a few short years, and you have much to learn about the art of subtle comedy, but give me a break here. If I don't laugh the first time you say it, I sure as hell am not laughing the ninety-seventh time you do. Pick a new word to overuse. Preferably one that doesn't identify bodily orifices or functions.
Who in God's name came up with the phrase "Nanny-nanny-boo-boo?" and has someone shot them yet? Is this the best taunt you can come up with, kid? Whatever happened to insulting someone's mom? Or his haircut. Nanny-nanny-boo-boo? Are you kidding me? Come back and tease me when you've learned the fine art of the intelligent jest. Or at least when you can properly identify my current source of insecurity and exploit it with some aplomb (which right now would be my giant ass).
And what's the deal with all the splashing? The tub, the pool, puddles, the milk in your bowl of Lucky Charms....Why must you send droplets of every liquid you encounter flying across the room? Do you like having dirty, sopping wet shoes? Is the appeal of stepping in an oily, mucky puddle with cigarette butts floating in it so great that you can't hear my threats of annihilation if you even think about sticking your pinky toe in the water? Forget Disney World this year--next time you want to go on vacation I think I'll just bring you to the grocery store parking lot after a heavy rain. Eh? Who's with me?
....Okay, so maybe it's a good thing I never invested in those bolo ties.