Every year when I celebrate a birthday, the one thing that bothers me is that it’s mine. Especially since sitting by myself at the kitchen table wearing a funny hat usually draws the following questions from my family:
“Mom, is it time to take Dad to the hospital?”
“Is it Bastille Day already?”
“Cake? Is it somebody’s birthday?”
The answers are, of course, “Yes,” “No,” and “Never mind.”
The concern comes from the fact that I’m a year older. I got that for my birthday last year; I was hoping for something different, but no, I never get anything I want. For example, past birthday presents from my wife and kids include hemorrhoids, a slipped disc in my lower back and a waffle iron, and I don’t eat waffles.
Just once I’d like to open a present that’s wrapped – in paper – and maybe whack at a piñata filled with beef jerky.
Something like that would be, you know, like a birthday.
So, for me and every other dad out there who celebrates his yearly death march by baking his own cake, the following is the Perfect Dad Birthday. Clip it out and stick it to the fridge. It’s the only way anyone will see it.
Perfect Dad Birthday
8 a.m.: Get out of bed, although you’ve been awake two hours waiting for someone to bring you breakfast.
8:05 a.m.: Eat the last three slices of ham from the lunchmeat package sandwiched between two Ding Dongs. Make your own coffee.
8:30 a.m.: Watch TV.
10 a.m.: Put on pants and go outside to sit in the treehouse you spent an entire week and $700 to build five years ago and the kids have played on at least twice. Lose at “Hero Academy 2” on your phone and try to find something on YouTube.
Noon: Sit at the kitchen table and pretend to have a lunch conversation with your family, members of which are at a friend’s house, playing Xbox and at the gym.
1 p.m.: Attempt to fix the lamp your wife asked you to fix six months ago.
1:10 p.m.: Discover you don’t have the right part so you go to the hardware store and come home with a chainsaw.
1:53 p.m.: Realize you forgot to buy the part for the lamp and cut down the neighbor’s tree instead because, damn it Tom, it’s hanging over the property line.
2:36 p.m.: Have a fistfight with Tom.
3 p.m.: Police arrive, arrest you and Tom.
5:18 p.m.: You’re both lectured by the police chief and sent home to face harsher punishment.
6:42 p.m.: Arrive home. The family doesn’t ask where you’ve been, why your face is swollen, or why you arrived in a squad car. They just want to go out for pizza.
10 p.m.: Cry yourself to sleep.
Happy birthday. The end.
Jason Offutt’s newest book, “Chasing American Monsters: 251 Creatures, Cryptids, and Hairy Beasts,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.