I’m putting together a book all about moving from being an insufferable human to being an okay-ish human (and all it takes is cancer and kids with old people diseases). It is intended to be a humorous book with a lot of the short stories that have appeared here breaking up sections about my illness, my firstborn’s illness, being a real moron for the first 25 years of my life… hopefully my sons will read it one day and it will explain a lot for them (if they aren’t baffled by my constant attempts to throw them off the scent).
Having a real tough time coming up with something new to post to the blog this evening though, so here is a first draft excerpt from a book tentatively called Insufferable
There was a weekend tradition growing up of visiting this strip mall based Chinese restaurant. “Tradition” here might mean “compulsion”, but either way this restaurant was the gold standard in quality food taste and dining experience. There were placemats with the Chinese Zodiac at every seat, amazing art hanged on the walls, I threatened more than once to murder people if they took the last egg roll at the table; it was a wonderful place to be on a Saturday dinner taking place at 4:00pm.
The crew of the restaurant was always friendly and after eating there for years, we wound up spending most of our meals just catching up on the goings-on of the family that ran the shop. It was a place my whole family felt at home. It was the first place we took our newborn for a dining-out meal. The crew taught us that a high chair can be flipped over and it will support a baby carrier at just the right angle for parents to keep an eye on a napping baby. Amazing place.
I also learned, while sitting in their big red leather corner booth, how to add “in bed” to any and all fortune cookie fortunes following a meal.
This was a lesson taught to me by my father when I was ten or so. I had no idea what it meant at the time. It taught me a great lesson though; make humor. A ten year old saying “You will find great fortune this year…in bed” surrounded by family both immediate and grandmotherly is pretty funny and I will undoubtedly cause the same emotional damage on my own children. Most of my childhood was filled with my mom rolling her eyes at my father’s antics. The eye roll was always followed by a laugh though, so everything was fine.
I did not think about the phrase, or learning it from my dad for that matter, for years. Then one day I’m eating a fortune cookie (despite really not liking them, for some reason if food is in front of me I just eat. Like a cow) and I added the ‘in bed’ phrase after it. My wife (girlfriend at the time) giggled. Then I realized that I learned the joke from my dad. Then I realized my dad knew why ‘in bed’ was funny. Then I realized much to my horror, that my dad was (shock!) a real person. My mom was too. They knew the things I knew and they laughed at inappropriate jokes just like I do and they shouldn’t know what this stuff is!
My world exploded over a vanilla flavored cookie from California.
Recognizing that other people have stories, have backgrounds, have experiences just like you do was not exactly a strong point of my teenage years. Figuring out that people experience the real world at the same time you are, go through the same experiences you do, feel the same emotions you do; there was a hefty fog that lifted when I put that all together.
Unfortunately it all happened when I realized I had been completely oblivious to the dirty jokes that were pretty much always happening around me. Thanks fortune cookies!