171: joe studebaker (father/son surprise)

hey son, i’m glad you’re enjoying your birthday. that cake was pretty delicious, wasn’t it? your mother got that at whole foods. so have a seat, i have a bit of a surprise for you. i know you think this is pretty lame but trust me, this is a great surprise. are you ready? okay … april fools! i’m not really your father! haha. no for real, i’m not really your father. my name is joe studebaker, not harold stevens. i’m from richmond, virginia, and about three weeks before you were born i was hired to become your father for an elaborate april fools prank. your mother and i decided the best time to spring the surprise on you would be your sixteenth birthday, so … here we are! this is probably all a great shock to you but it’s all true. look, i brought the contract even. this was back when we used dot matrix printers, haha. see, look, the contract legally binds me to be your “father” until the age of sixteen, wherein we reveal that it was an april fools joke. see, your mother signed it and i signed it. pretty crazy, right?

now this is probably all a bit of a shock. i understand. to answer a few questions: no, i am not your biological father, nor am i your adopted father. your mother owes nothing to me other than the weekly stipend she paid to me since hiring me, as well as occasional room and board. you’ll read that in the contract, page four, paragraph six, subsection twelve. the contract allowed me to, for all intents and purposes, impersonate your father, vis a vis looking like i was “in love” with your mother, taking care of you, stuff like that. no sex though, oh no. i’m married! my wife lives just down the road. i have two kids of my own. no, this was just my job for the past sixteen years, and it was a really great one. really really great. but, as of this day i am no longer employed by your mother and thus will be taking my leave. it was really great getting to know you all these years, danny, really it was. watching you come out of your mother’s womb, helping to rear you into the handsome young man you’ve become. i’m honored, truly, and i loved watching your mother fawn over you from day one. it’s really a treat, really, truly.

well. you should get back to your birthday party. it looks like it’s getting pretty crazy! trevor and donald have been playing halo non-stop since they got here. those guys really need to learn how to talk to people! hah. anyway. i’ve got an uber picking me up in about five minutes–sherry and i, sherry’s my wife, she and i are going to vegas for the weekend! yeah. we’re also looking into moving back to virginia. we’re both from virginia. so … we kind of want to go back. it’s been a real honor being a part of your life, i mean that, but … i think you can understand that it caused some issues with my marriage. sherry likes new hampshire but neither of us expected to live here for sixteen years! i mean, god, my kids are adults now! julie is off to graduate school, kevin is just starting his freshman year at northwestern. it’s crazy how time flies when you’re pretending to be another child’s father. now that this is over with i can spend more quality time with my actual wife, you know, see my julie in those plays that she does. kevin does watercolor or something, i don’t even know. i don’t even know, danny! how insane is that? i barely know my own children but i know exactly what crayon you’ll pick out of a box of 64 crayons. every time. light blue. i know your favorite food is ramen, i know the month you finally stopped peeing the bed, all that. i know everything about you danny but i know nothing about my kids.

so … i … hope you’ll understand that i’m not coming back. sherry and i are going to find a life away from here. i hope this doesn’t discourage you, son… danny. the time i spent with you was beautiful. really. helping toilet train you, teaching you how to play catch. that summer in the hamptons! oh my god i never thought that would ever happen to me. i’m just a guy pretending to be your father, you know? but, that was all your mom. she could afford that, not me. she … she’s a wonderful lady. you remember that, okay danny?

well. i’m … i’m gonna go. you take care. don’t eat all the birthday cake, okay boy? haha. okay. have a … have a good life.

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