Do you know how that goody-two-shoes kid Billy, from "The Family Circus," sometimes draws the strip on Father's Day, giving his cartoonist-dad the day off?
You do? What kind of an idiot are you? Billy isn't real. He's not even anatomically correct. He certainly can't draw anything.
My point is, this is nothing like that. My name is Dan Weingarten, I'm 19, I'm anatomically correct, and I'm writing this Father's Day column because they're paying me. I will use the money to become intoxicated.
(See, you believe that because you are prejudiced. You think all young people are irresponsible. Well, we young people today are more mature and level-headed than that. I will probably actually put the money in the bank, for when I need a new liver.)
I've never written humor before, let alone for The Washington Post, and my first impulse was to try to copy the style of a man who I have to say, frankly, is the most ingenious, funny, creative, famous columnist I am the son of. And so I have decided to employ a Stanislavsky-like system I call "method humor." To write like my father I have become him -- putting on a ratty bathrobe and mismatched socks, sitting at my computer smoking a pipe containing $1-a-pound panhandler-scented tobacco, muttering incoherently and occasionally cackling maniacally. Oh, and I am eating olives and jamming the pits into the pockets of my pants.
Unfortunately, this isn't working. I just feel stupid. So I'm going to go at it on my own.
My father is Jewish, and, as everyone knows, Jewish people are funny. My problem is that I am only half-Jewish. So, I am going to write the column double length, and then remove the unfunny half. Those reasoning and problem-solving skills come from my mother's side.
I am indebted to my father for many things. The first, and most obvious, is that he has toughened me up by embarrassing me in public as often and as thoroughly as possible. For example, he seldom calls me by my name, preferring "Fatboy," even though I am about as fat as a rectal thermometer. At Chinese restaurants, using all the knowledge he has obtained from the phonetic "Learn Chinese" phrases on the back of fortune cookie fortunes, he loudly attempts to converse with the waiters in Mandarin, often insisting that he is right and they are wrong. That is Life With Father.
Basically, this constant diet of public humiliation has desensitized me to all personal criticism, the way that, after sandpapering your behind nightly for 15 years, it might not hurt to ride a bull.
Where was I? Sorry, I am easily distracted. Like roughly 76.3 percent of persons in my generation, I have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder by the most highly qualified professionals who also happen to be in one's parents' HMO plan. This means that I sometimes bananas have troubled staying focused on Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia. Oh &@!%, now my Tourette's is acting up, too.
I got excited about writing this column mostly because it is going to give me an opportunity to really annoy Eric Shansby, the precocious 18-year-old college student who illustrates these columns for more money than I am getting paid to write one. After I finish this column, I am going to call Eric and yell at him, the way my dad does most Sunday nights, and tell him everything he comes up with is wrong. And if he gives me any lip, I am going to tell him to shut up because he is just a kid. I am my father's son.
I'd like to end with a true story that summarizes the special relationship my dad and I have. It happened several years ago, after he published his first book. One day he came to my sister and me, flushed with pride. The Web was pretty new at the time -- at least to him. He had somehow managed to find Amazon.com, where he discovered that his book had gotten its very first reader review. He patiently explained to us what the Web was, and what Amazon.com was, and how, through the magic of interactive technology, regular people out there were able to review the book online.
It was an appreciative, funny review. It was titled "I ALMOST DIED LAUGHING (I'M AN ASTHMATIC)," and it said, "This is the only book I've ever recommended -- and I'm a librarian!"
My dad looked at us proudly. We looked at him proudly. And cracked up.
Yeah, we'd written it.
Dan Weingarten's e-mail address is email@example.com.