My friend Todd Hubb who is a thirty-something, mop-haired, world famous motivational speaker called an emergency meeting this morning to discuss the future of our sketch comedy duo Silly Putty. We sat down in our regular McDonald's over coffee and muffins.
TODD: We stank last night.
ME: I know. I walked out along with everyone.
TODD: And I had to perform by myself for six hours in an empty room.
ME: I hate fundraisers.
TODD: We need to do something to make the experience better for our audience.
ME: One option could be us stopping performing comedy altogether.
TODD: And then what? What are we going to do with our lives?
ME: Why do we have to worry about our lives so much all the time?
TODD: I gave up being the number one, bestselling motivational speaker in America for this crap.
ME: Why are you worrying about that? Who cares?
TODD: I did this for you. To help you find your way in life.
ME: You could have tried a little harder. My life is in the toilet.
TODD: It's you.
ME: Me? What are you talking about?
TODD: You're the one ruining our shows.
ME: No, I'm not.
TODD: Yeah. You're an abomination. It's like watching a three-legged dog who can't bark or see up there on stage.
ME: What's that supposed to mean?
TODD: It's supposed to mean whatever you want to make of it.
ME: I just think you're being unfair to all the three-legged, blind, mute dogs out there. They don't deserve to be compared to me. Especially not when performing topical sketch comedy.
TODD: You know what the problem is with you? You despise yourself and the audience can sense it.
ME: And you know what the problem is with you? I hate you.
TODD: At the start of last night's show, you smashed twelve beer bottles against your head and it wasn't even in the script. You were supposed to be playing Mother Theresa. Where's the self respect?
ME: I was improvising.
TODD: Nobody was laughing, and it was painful to watch.
ME: It was painful to do.
TODD: There's only one way to fix this.
ME: We put in a bullet in Silly Putty like that kid did to Old Yeller.
TODD: Eric, you need to forgive yourself.
ME: What for?
TODD: For abandoning your wife...
I was quiet.
I said nothing.
I stayed mum.
TODD: and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
I took a sip of my coffee. I put my paper cup down.
ME: What's there to forgive?
TODD: You son or daughter should be about ten months right now. You don't feel guilty about abandoning a baby? Your own baby?
ME: I have these daydreams where my kid is like eighteen and in college somewhere and he's been thinking about me his whole life, wondering what I'm like. Am I an adventurer like Indiana Jones or a philanthropist like Bill Gates or some speaker who changes the world like Gandhi or maybe I'm Barrack Obama.
Todd kept listening.
ME: And then I surprise him with a visit and my kid is all like "I knew you were special. I've always known you were someone of great importance to our world... to our history".
TODD: You are nothing like that, you moron.
ME: I have eighteen years to do something with my life. That's a lot of time. I'm not even going to start to try for another five.
TODD: What will happen is that in eighteen years, when you do meet up with your child, they are going to be sorely disappointed. And probably ashamed to be related to you.
Todd was a bit mouthy today.
TODD: Why don't you see your kid now? Be a father now.
ME: Yeah, but then I don't get to be that amazing dad when he's eighteen and old enough to recognize how awesome I am. I really want to be that cool dad who gets to hang out in his college dorm.
TODD: So you can mooch off him. Wow, in eighteen years, you are going to be an outstanding father.
ME: Shut up! You're totally raining on my parade. These are my goals in life.
TODD: Those aren't goals. They're all routes of avoidance. In eighteen years, you'll still be a horrible father because you'll have made a conscious decision to hide from your child for two decades. He or she will never forgive you. You will never forgive you.
ME: I can try. I've got two decades.
TODD: I'll never forgive you.
ME: I am never going back. Never! Do you hear me? I was exaggerating when I said I daydreamed about going back in eighteen years. I will run for the rest of my life. I don't care about no baby! So leave me alone!
TODD: If you agree to travel back to your hometown with me and meet with your wife and child, I'll make it worth your while.
ME: You don't have anything anymore. You've got nothing, like me.
Todd lifted a cheap, ripped, plastic lion mask with the rubber band snapped off. He gave me a smile weighted down with sadness and regret.
TODD: You're right. This is all I have. I've got nothing else. I found it the day after Halloween.
I reached for it.
ME: When do we leave?