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“So you’re 15. For some reason that sounds a lot older than 14.”

“I know. It’s weird.”

“It’s absolutely insane. You’re approaching a time in your life when many young men mistakenly believe they pose a physical threat to their fathers. Have you considered swinging on me?”


“Do you want to take it to the mat for some Greco-Roman style wrestling?”


“You’ve got, like, bushels of hair in your armpits, dude. It’s freaking me out.”


“I just. I can’t. Piaget. The. You understand, right, that I used to wipe your baby ass?”

“I gotta believe that’s true, yes.”

“Like 1000s of times—I wiped your ass.”

“Got it.”

“And now you’re, like, I don’t know, this guy.

“Who’s going to drive your car in 6 months.”

“It’s like this surreal, um, totally not a pipe type of situation.”

“What’s the big deal? So I’m 15.”

“Man, you’re gonna go to college in like 3 frickin years goddamn!”


“And then when you’re done, I’m done. You understand that, right? That’s what your grandpa did to me. He wrote me a check for $1500, told me good luck, and never gave me another thing—not a single penny.”

“Grandpa says you owe him $600.”

“That’s between me and your grandpa. See? That’s exactly what I was talking about. You wanna wrestle?”

“I said I don’t want to wrestle.”

“Wait. No. I think wrestling’s maybe just a metaphor for, like, I don’t know, wrestling to communicate or something but, see, it’s bigger than the standard generation gap. It’s more like this goofy postmodern goop where I want to tell you something but the words don’t mean anything.”

“Circle purple monkey drum.”

“Exactly! Now you’re talking! Listen, boy, it’s like this. When I look at your face and I see this this—this man, I feel like I’m choking on something, like I can’t breathe.”

“Do you detect, in my becoming a man, your own inevitable decline into old age and death?”


“And the absurdity of death creates this crisis of meaning that you’re metaphorically representing with the desire to wrestle me?”

“I think maybe yeah.”

“But why me? Why wrestle me?”

“Because I love you! Listen, man, we gotta get this done before you go waltzing off into the world and I fade away into the dying of the light. I love you. I mean, damn, it’s so goddamn strange. We’re all just these weird ass sentient goofballs in this bizarre world of crazy shit like hammers and bananas and vacuum cleaners and switchblades and we stumble all over the place and, I don’t know, walk through doors and get haircuts and watch fireworks and give people money for eggs and toothpaste. And for what?!? Who the hell knows? Nobody fucking knows. But here’s the thing and I think this might be the thing that makes me choke. Honestly, I don’t even care about for what. And the reason I don’t care about for what is because of the simple fact that I get to do it with you. I get to do this whole charade of ridiculous nonsense with you. So what I mean when I say I love you is that the bushels of hair in your armpits are existential facts that overshadow the threat of meaninglessness. Absurdity itself is buried in all that armpit hair. See? I love you. Do you understand?”

“Only as far as understanding is possible in a world with no grounding foundation. But I love you too, Dad.”

“Fair enough. Happy birthday. Let's go raise some hell.”