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When Brian Sack's mother passed away, he was left with a letter and a pink cardigan. The cardigan was promptly placed in a drawer, but the letter was pure gold. In just a few pages of fancy cursive, her posthumous dispatch offered the kind of guidance you would expect from a mother to her young son. And while he didn't necessarily follow all the advice, he never forgot how very important those words—and that letter—were to him. Decades later, on the verge of parenthood himself, Brian decided to write something for his own child, wanting a legacy, and not just a pink cardigan, to leave to his son. But far from the usual collection of advice, Brian has written a sharp, sage, warts-and-all survival guide to life.
With quick wit and self-deprecating honesty, Sack draws from his experiences, tapping them for the humor within. Holding nothing back, he:
- Gives the skinny on relationships—don't let the woman you love wander alone in France
- Commiserates about the death of the meritocracy—wanting to sing doesn't mean you can
- Recounts his awkward entry into fatherhood—you'll overcome your aversion to poo
- Offers firsthand advice—avoid any bipolar lady with a drug-sniffing wonder-cat
- And argues that the Empire State Building is not a phallic symbol—no matter what the professor said
Every chapter takes on subjects ranging from the universal and mundane to the life changing and inevitable. With its funny and heartfelt musings from a father to a son, In the Event of My Untimely Demise is a delightful life primer for all of us.
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About the Author
Brian Sack offers humorous commentary on the Glenn Beck Show and Not Just Another Cable News Show, as well as on his award-winning blog, banterist.com, and in publications such as McSweeney's, The Independent, and Glamour.
Read an Excerpt
In the Event of My Untimely Demise
Change Starts at Conception
To preserve yourself as the center of the world, to stay your own best authority on everything, your own expert on all topics, infallible, omniscient. Always, every time of the month, forever: Use birth control.
Any dad will tell you the birth of their first child is one of the most incredible, momentous events of their lives. It's an unforgettable milestone, not only because it signifies his transition into fatherhood, but because he sees a tiny shrieking head coming out of his wife's vagina.
Until that defining moment, a father-to-be has spent nine months hearing from everyone who has ever had a child. New parents, old parents, it doesn't matter. The fact that they have already entered the realm of parenthood entitles them, obligates them, to share their little secret. It goes pretty much, actually exactly, like this:
"Things are going to change."
So, take it from me, another parent with a secret to share: things are going to change. Hopefully you will have already been aware of this.
It should not be news to an expecting parent that a baby is at the very least a major lifestyle disruption. It's one of only a few occasions, such as a first wedding or domicile relocation, that warrant a mass announcement. Even photo cards. It's an event so momentous it qualifies you for tax breaks. It gives you the right to unapologetically miss work. It is, in most every way, an extremely important event followed by approximatelyeighteen years of other, not insignificant, events. It is the beginning of an amazing adventure; like Homer's Odyssey, but with less sailing.
You should certainly be well aware of this by the pregnancy's third trimester—in layman's terms, the time right before all hell breaks loose. By this time, your wife has a studio apartment where her stomach was. Even being tired exhausts her. If watching your waddling, uncomfortable, ragged wife moan down the hallway doesn't suggest even vaguely that your life is going to change, you probably shouldn't be having a baby. The cruel irony, of course, being that by then it's far too late to have reached that conclusion.
However, you can be forgiven for not having the slightest clue as to how your life will change. That particular wisdom only comes from experience, from baptism by fire.
Though I will endeavor to shed some light on what one can expect with the creation and introduction of a dependent life form, please be aware that the reality of parenthood is terribly difficult to express, and I can't truly do it justice. It does not lend itself easily to words, nor can it be better explained through songs and gesticulating. Like weightlessness and Tommy Lee driving a boat with an erection, parenting is something that demands it be experienced firsthand to be fully appreciated. Trying to explain parenthood to a nonparent is like trying to explain the sun to a drunken hillbilly. Sure, they'll nod and smile and stagger away with the basics—big and hot—but they won't really grasp the sheer magnitude.
To force an analogy that needlessly incorporates Australia: Parenting is like emigrating to Australia inthe 1800s. A person heard about it through word of mouth and written accounts and was vaguely aware of an exciting, interesting, and challenging new environment. But he wouldn't think much of it until one day he found himself headed there. After a long, tiresome journey, he'd arrive, and only then realize that he had absolutely no idea what he was getting himself into. The animals bounce, the seasons are backward, and everyone around him speaks the same language but uses totally different words. And there's really no going back because it was a one-way trip.
Nevertheless, I feel it's important you have some perspective on the changes brought by parenthood and how something that does nothing but soil itself and weep at odd hours can have such an absolutely staggering impact on your life. There are many roads to having a baby, especially in this day and age, but to facilitate matters we'll stick with the traditional one: You find someone you want to marry, they feel the same way, and sooner or later you decide to have a baby. You will then do your thing, with the knowledge that if you are successful, you will wind up adding a baby to the equation—thus changing your life in some fashion. There are no major changes yet, aside from the meticulous planning of coitus—because at that point you're merely trying to have a baby. That endeavor can range from a laborious undertaking to, in my case, a terrifyingly effortless three minutes. But there is no actual baby. It remains a distant notion. Just as a bepimpled pubescent teen imagines how one day he'll lose his virginity, a maturing man imagines how he'll one day become a father. But losing one's virginity seldom comes to pass asone had imagined. The fantasy is a swollen-lipped, airbrushed Playmate swimming in satin sheets. The reality is your bum on cold vinyl and Maggie whacking her head on the rearview mirror as she steals your innocence in the passenger seat of a Scirocco; your rapid heartbeat the result not of passion, but terror that every passing vehicle's headlights will somehow illuminate you through the frosted windows.
In that same manner, becoming a parent is also something you can't possibly fathom—like being attacked by an enraged neon monkey in a top hat.
Though subtle, change starts at conception. Your wife, having peed on an expensive plastic stick, emerges from the bathroom with an expression of glee, one hopes, and waves the stick in your face. You consult the box it came in to make sure you're reading the stick correctly. If you have, congratulations are in order. Still, there are variables. The pregnancy could fail. And anyway, the real change is nine months away. Nine months is nearly a year, and a year seems like forever. Granted, the older you get, the less like forever it seems—but it's still significantly down the road. The only immediate change this early into the game is that mom-to-be cannot continue drinking and smoking like she used to. If she didn't know that, she probably shouldn't be having a baby, either.In the Event of My Untimely Demise. Copyright ? by Brian Sack. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Dear Son 5
Change Starts at Conception 9
High, Reasonable Hopes 19
Trust Your Gut 27
Fight, Cub 37
We'll Need to Talk 51
There Is a Light at the End of the Tunnel 59
Your Career 69
You Can't Take It with You 77
Get Up, Get Out, and Go Where the Toilets Are Different 87
Gray Is Good 95
Deferred Pay 105
On Knots 117
Meet the Parents 127
Respect Your Elders, Wisely 139
Friends, Indeed 149
How I Am Different 161
Mortality's in the House 171
What Old People Can Offer Us 179
Nobody Likes an Enemy 189
Live to Be Missed 199
Epilogue: Dear Son 207