How Dad Jokes Are Born

A riff on losing grip of the creative process

Our cats, like most cats, have their own peculiarities.

Their relationship with water is remarkable. When our son showers, the kitten stands on the toilet beside the shower and cries. Is she afraid? Does she want to rescue him from the water? We will never know.

Trevor, will go outside in any conditions - rain or snow. He does not like having water thrown in his face. He delights in walking in the mist. I guess he's a bit like me in that way.

When it comes to drinking, they are especially precious. They both love having a glass, mason jar, or cup filled to the brim and left in the bathtub. It is their favourite place to drink.

Recently, I needed a mason jar to hold some baking soda. There was one in the bathtub (of course). I dumped the water from it and went to move on to the next task.

What happened next is a mystery to me. Somehow, the glass slipped through my fingers. Was I not holding on tightly enough? Was it slippery? Did I just let go without knowing it? There was a disconnect between what was going on in my nervous system and the physical reality of this small, glass mason jar.

I watched as it arced through the air. Everything stood still. I had time enough to think: Oh shit, that’s going to make a mess.

I had time enough to think: I hope it bounces.

Two distinct thoughts within tenths of a second. My thoughts seem to move faster than gravity.

Then, the inevitable happened. The jar hit the tile floor and shattered upon impact. 

It’s funny how quickly we can tell that something is going wrong.

It’s remarkable how quickly things can get away from us.

It’s laughable how I hoped that despite knowing that the jar would shatter, that I hoped things would turn out otherwise.

A lot of creative projects have gone much like this - they’ve been a mason jar, arcing through the air towards a tiled floor. 

Why has this happened? We let go of the glass. Something slipped away. I thought the jar was in a place it wasn’t. Either way the results have been unpredictable.

That seems to be how dad jokes are born. Mason jars flying towards a tiled floor. Maybe the next one will be funny. Maybe it will bounce.

Some glass jars of creativity have bounced. Most have shattered. 

And in the end, I’ve come to enjoy the process of cleaning up what remains.