Publication date: June 1, 1995
Type: 2-page menu parody
Object of Ridicule: Caffé Ladro, Seattle coffee shop

Chad's Career-Path Goof-up

Hello. I'm George Clark's talentless son Chad. Welcome! And I'd like to briefly remind you that I am in no way responsible for any errors of grammar and punctuation you might come across in this piece because I recently had a little goof-up in my career path and I've not been feeling my best.
Boring little story goes with that. Not long ago a courier brought me an urgent fax from my Dad: SEE ME IMMEDIATELY. We hooked up in the conference room and he sat me down. "Hello, son. Mrs. Abercrombie informs me that you've been acting a bit out of sorts -- listless, watching television -- for the last 30 years."
Cunt! "Not to worry, Dad. Indeed, I've not been feeling my best. I suspect I just need a little R&R so I can recharge my --"
"I'm going to be making use of you here at the firm starting today. Teach you the family business. Soon you will come to understand the considerable pride and satisfaction that ensue naturally from a hard day's ridiculing of others."
I smiled patiently. "I don't want to sound like I'm not flattered by your offer, Dad. Because I am. Really. But --"
"I know what you're thinking. But don't worry. In my many years here I've hired thousands of unemployable persons. Fact is I'm quite good at it." He pulled a document from his briefcase. "Had this little project on the back burner for a while. Going to put you in charge. You're gonna generate a cute little parody of the Caffé Ladro menu. Use it to make incisive comments about these troubled times of ours. And we'll put a fat man on the cover." He squinted as he read the legalese. "The parody must be mean-spirited, trenchant, and must specifically slander by name real persons, places and things."
Yawn. I nodded crisply. "Consider it done. Dad? I have no talents."
"I know that about you. Don't worry: I'll take care of the tasks that require a talented person. Writing, graphics, generating the menu. You'll take care of the rest."
So. So once again I am called upon to consult my muse for the benefit of my fellow man. Sigh. I raised my hand.
Dad: "Uh ... yes, Chad?"
"I've decided that my first decision is we will use the word 'sperm' in the menu. It is a cost-effective, sure-fire laugh-getter." As I myself have proven conclusively through my readings of Masters & Johnson. And needless to say Dad chuckled heartily, as then did his Executive Board and his masseur.
Two hours later a courier brought me a draft of the bogus menu for my approval. I looked it over responsibly. Yes, I remember thinking. Yes, indeed. I bet a lot of this is very funny.
We printed up 400,000 of them, and I smuggled them into Caffé Ladro and waited. Sure enough, when owner Jack Kelly read the menu a thoughtful tear came to his eye; and when he came to the sperm reference there came a few that were not quite as thoughtful ... that's the power of parody. And I was on hand to observe the massive, rapid customer exodus and my eventual arrest and weeklong stay at the County Jail, where perhaps I was sodomized while I slept.
The spoof soon proved more successful than even I had dreamed. Inexorably, the neighborhood around Caffé Ladro began to go bad: Hooters, Butch's Guns and Truckstop Liquors all closed up shop and sought classier environs. No more customers of course meant no more Jack Kelly customer chit-chat, which had the curious effect of actually increasing business for a brief time. Finally, when the Health Dept. closed the place down and sealed it in plastic, Kelly declared bankruptcy and moved away to who-knows-where. My guess: I imagine he went back home to live with his parents in Canada, because if he is in fact Canadian then no wonder he couldn't cut it. Canadians take note: don't mess around with Chad Clark.
Dad outbid everyone at the Sheriff's Auction because when he called in his bid he pretended he was Bill Gates.
So now Dad owns a coffee-shop: good for him. And me? Dad gave me a hefty promotion: I'm a barista now. Apron, hair-net, facial piercing. I'm recognized in the community; I even have a coffee named after me.
And it's true: I feel different. I feel ... I feel young again. By god, I feel like a teen: my life is shitty and I wish I was dead.

Caffé Lardo