Funny stories in under 500 words.

I'm Told That I've Decided to Become a Man

Time to grow up, everybody! This story is a funny tale about some good, fatherly advice, and was written by Douglas Collura. Doug lives in Manhattan and is the author of a spoken-word CD, The Dare of the Quick World, and the book, Things I Can Fit My Whole Head Into, which was a finalist for the 2007 Paterson Poetry Prize. He was also the 2008 First Prize Winner of the Missouri Review Audio/Video Competition in Poetry, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016.
My father sat me down and said in the mob enforcer voice he favored for our father-son talks, “It’s time for you to start making decisions for yourself and become a man, ding dong. Now, what do you want to do: go to work, or go to college?”

I could feel myself becoming more of a man by the second as I said, “Go to work.”

He smacked me. “What as? A traffic cone? You’re going to college.” Boy, I thought, this making decisions for myself and being a man stuff is tough. “I’ll give you another chance to prove yourself, oatmeal. What do you want to do this summer before you leave for college? Work and put money away, or sit around on your ass?”

I looked at his hand and said, “Work and put money away.”

He smacked me. “Good answer.”

“So what’d you hit me for?” I said, rubbing my face.

“You won’t become a man by lying, ying yang.”

“Then I take it back. I want to sit around on my ass all summer.”

He smacked me and said, “How predictable. I’ll give you one last chance to prove yourself, tree trunk. What kind of professional have you always dreamed about becoming after college?”

“Can you give me a hint?” I said, exasperated.

“First letter’s an ‘L,’ second letter’s an ‘A,’ he handles divorced people’s property, and he makes a lot of money,” he said.

“That’s easy,” I said confidently. “Landscaper.”

He smacked me twice. “I hope you’re starting to figure things out, soap dish.”

“Yeah, I’m figuring out what manhandled means,” I said, rubbing my face.

“The more you’re handled, the quicker you become a man,” he said. “I was younger than you when I learned that lesson. Just a kid, back when I’d invented a game the other kids loved to play. It combined aerodynamics, knot making, and an interest in the human form. That’s right. I’m the one who invented: Let’s Tie the Smallest Kid to a Rope and Swing Him around Naked. I was so proud, right up until the day the smallest kid escaped, and I found out that I was the second smallest kid. I was betrayed by my own baby. That’s when I realized no matter how many hands are smacking you, they’re all somehow your own, and I started to build the calluses of a man.”

“Gee, dad. That’s a beautiful life lesson,” I said. “If I promise to smack myself every once and a while, can I go?”

“Believe me, when I go, you’ll miss every smack.”

“I’m trying to picture that.”




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