Select Page

This morning while I was making scrambled eggs, my son asked me why I — at times — spoke in the character of Psycho-Dad. “Why is Psycho-Dad funny?” he asked me.

Psycho-Dad is an invention of mine, I guess. I’ll take “credit” for that. Psycho-Dad says what normal dads do, but in a deep, gravelly, warped, somewhat-chilling voice. He says what caring fathers say, but he sounds like a murderous former member of the Red Brigade when he says it.

Kind of like this:


It’s basically Ward Cleaver voiced in the tones of Will Arnett or — if you want to get ethnic about it — Danny Trejo.

My boy isn’t old enough to remember TV in the 70’s and 80’s. Every cop show had at least one episode with a kidnapper or mad bomber. There’d be a close shot of the criminal speaking into the phone, issuing threats and making demands. Ominous strings in the background. Very dramatic! Usually it was in a voice very similar to my sample above. TV might have done that in the 90’s too. Or the 00’s. Might do it today, as well. I wouldn’t know: I stopped watching TV regularly about 30 years ago.

Anyway, this led us to a discussion of what those dramatic moments on TV would be like if the kidnapper stated his ransom demands in a different kind of voice — something more like a typical dad.

Something like:

Of course, by now my kid is laughing so hard he’s turned red in the face and bits of scrambled egg are coming out of his nose. I thought I was very close to needing to use the Heimlich maneuver.  But he recovered.

We went on to imagine a whole kidnapping scene using Disney cartoon characters.

Together — over the remainder of breakfast — we basically remade Reservoir Dogs with Mickey in the role played by Harvey Keitel (Mr. White) and Donald Duck doing the nervous Steve Buscemi thing.  I think Goofy was in the Chris Penn role as the maximally-psychotic “Nice Guy Eddie.”

Of course I cleaned up the language a bit. He hasn’t seen Reservoir Dogs. Yet.

See, these are the moments I hope he remembers. I think if I can give him anything that’s future-proof, it’s the gift of a sort of warped and twisted creativity. That will always come in handy.

Last week as we were leaving a conference, I saw him playing with the shadows his hands made on the surface of the parking lot. Bingo! Suddenly, he said he had an idea for a story. The story was about a guy who suffers a head injury then suddenly doesn’t recognize his own shadow. He freaks out as he thinks he’s being pursued everywhere. The only peace he can find is in darkness.

The discussion went on for some time. We came up with all sorts of plot ideas for the guy at war with his own shadow. Then I suggested he write his ideas down so he can start developing them as he learns more.

He looked up at me, impatiently. I could imagine him thinking: Ehhhhhh. . . . sounds like work . . . I KNEW you were going to say that! 

So, I’m happy he’s showing signs of creativity. And I think his shadow-boxing idea is kind of an offspring of Psycho-Dad.

Someone finding peace in darkness.