Your Mother and I are Proud of You, Son

Cowritten by Dan and Carolyn
Syndicated from

Whenever I broke up with a girlfriend, my father would take me aside and tell me, "Son, don't be too broken up, there are other fish in the sea." I understand this is a difficult time for you, but through it, remember that due to pollution, the melting icecaps, changing ocean currents, and the general depletion of the fisheries, it's entirely possible that that was the last fish in the sea. Now that you've let that one get away, you might as well hang up your nets.

Fortunately, there's a bright side to all this. She was quite a catch - and with the general fish shortage, some other guy's going to be all that much happier when he finally lands her. What? Oh. No, there's no bright side for you, but if you were the other guy, you'd really be happy. And how can any day be a bad day when you've made somebody smile?

Don't look so down. I didn't say I was 100% certain there were no other fish in the sea. In fact, I'm pretty sure if you really scrape the bottom, you'll find something. It will be a lot of work, but if you explore some of those trenches that light hasn't reached in a million years, you'll discover some really fascinating eyeless monsters, some real bottom-feeders. Why, I hear that if you throw a dead whale down there, it's a regular eyeless feeding frenzy, and things will crawl and squirm and conglobulate over there for miles just to get a piece of the action.

What's that, son? No, I'm not saying that you're a dead whale. Maybe more like a beached whale. Mobility is a definite possibility the next time the tide comes in. Or maybe with some help from a crane, or a forklift. Heck, even a bulldozer or a tug boat. We'll have you out there swimming in that sea in no time. You see, it's like my father always said, you've got to have a couple of irons on the fire. Some options open. Of course, in my father's day, there was a lot more iron. Iron pots, iron pans, nails were iron, railings, hinges, hooks. These days everything's made of plastic, glue, polycarbonate steel. No, iron's not so easy to come by any more...

But man can't expect to catch a whopper with every little nibble. Sometimes the line isn't strong enough or the hook didn't catch. Of course, that's not what happened here - she pretty much swallowed the hook. It must have taken some serious bungling to screw up that one.

Take your mom for example. Do you think I caught her on the first catch? Not a chance! It took years of catch and release, catch and release to land a beauty like her. Of course, you won't have that luxury. The most excitement you're likely to get is hooking the seat of your own pants.

Now don't cry - you've learned a lesson here, which makes you a winner. At least in a metaphorical sense. Sure, in every practical way, you're a loser, but take what you can get. We used to say "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." Now, with all these new environmental laws, a bird in the hand is worth a couple years in the federal clink. And we don't so much have bushes anymore. Sort of shrubs. Or patches of scraggley weeds the lawnmower can't chew up. So the modern saying might be , "Prison's a bitch, but at least you don't have to mow the damn lawn." See? That's a way to look on the bright side.

Is this talk helping? No? Don't look at me like that. My job's not that easy. It used to be a whole lot easier to cheer up your kids when they had something to be cheerful for. When I had a bad day - one of the worst days of my life, up to that point, which probably makes it like a pretty average day for you - my dad gave me a nickel and told me to go to the candy store. At the candy store, you could get a big brown bag and head to the bulk section. You'd grab the trowel and fill that bag with so much candy you needed a wheelbarrow to carry it. So I wheeled that barrow up to the register, and give the man behind the counter my nickel - and he gave me a penny back. That was a great day.

So here, son, is a nickel like the nickel my father gave me. Now get out of here.