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Spoofs & Satire

Three Simple Ways to Abandon Your Family

When enough is enough, when federal investigators are on your trail, or you’ve decided to marry that cocktail waitress after all—it’s time to leave.

Go Out for Cigarettes and Never Come Back

1. Start smoking at least three months prior to attempting your deception. (Six months is actually preferable.) This will lend you the credibility that’s fundamental to success. For example, you wouldn’t claim to be going out to buy a newspaper if you’ve never before shown an interest in reading the paper. Each puff will cement in your family’s mind the notion that you’ll have to regularly go out to replenish your supply of cigarettes.

2. Don’t smoke inside the house. This will betray the hostile feelings that have been building up toward your family for many years. Smoke outside on the porch, so they’ll think you still care about them. This way, when the big day finally arrives, they’ll be far less suspicious that you’re leaving forever.

3. In the days preceding the execution of your plan, be sure to make repeated offhand remarks such as “Boy, I am certainly running low on cigarettes” and “One day soon I will undoubtedly need to make a special trip to buy more cigarettes.” Don’t improvise. Write down your lines beforehand, rehearse them in private, and deliver them with the utmost sincerity. No cue cards.

4. It’s now time to pull off the con. “I’m going down to the corner store to get cigarettes. Be right back.” Ideally, you’ll be saying this to your wife. You can’t trust your children to get the message right, and the correct message is essential. You don’t want your family to think you’ve gone on a week-long hunting trip with your buddies, as you’re prone to do when that smothered feeling gets too overwhelming. It must be a simple run to the store for cigarettes or everything is ruined.

5. (Important: If your wife replies, “Cigarettes? Since when have you started smoking?” then call off the plan at once. You’ve been doing something wrong. You must now wait at least another three months, preferably six.)

6. Assuming everything has gone smoothly in Step Four, you can get in your truck and leave. You’re a free man again. Congratulations.

7. New life, here you come.

8. But first, stop at the store for a pack of smokes.

Fake Your Own Death

1. Take your family camping deep in the woods. Make certain it’s a time of year amenable to outdoor activities. To go camping in the dead of winter will only cause warning bells to go off in the minds of your so-called loved ones. Curb your impatience and play the waiting game. Or online poker.

2. The flowers are in bloom, the birds are singing, and your weary spirit, burdened for so long by familial pressures and responsibilities you had never imagined, is ready to soar again. As you’re making camp with the wife and kids, remark on the beauty of nature, the timelessness of the earth itself, and the ever-present danger of ravenous bears. Especially the part about the bears. (This will be important later.)

3. Take everyone on a hike during which you happen to notice curious tracks in the dirt. Feign interest long enough for one of your family members to ask what kind of animal it was. “A bear,” you say, looking pensively into the woods. “A ravenous bear.” Your previous hunting trips will grant you authority in this situation, even though you spent all your time in the cabin getting drunk.

4. Take your family fishing at a nearby stream. Catch several fish (salmon, if possible), cook them for supper, and casually mention that bears can scent a fish for up to eight miles. As darkness falls, proceed to tell tales around the campfire. Each and every tale should prominently feature a bear.

5. As your children retire to their separate tent, tell your wife you’ll join her in your own tent after a quick trip to water the bushes. Take off your sweatshirt, quietly rip it to shreds, and deposit it where you’re certain it will be found in the morning. It wouldn’t hurt to leave your hat as well, and possibly a shoe. Resist the urge to create a commotion. Don’t shake the bushes, don’t scream bloody murder, and above all do not make growling sounds.

6. Escape into the woods and attempt to find your way back to civilization. This will be extremely difficult in the dark, with little or no food and water, and only one shoe. There’s also the very real possibility that you’ll encounter a ravenous bear.

7. When you eventually reach some dust-filled hamlet, you may consider yourself liberated at last. It was a long journey, both literally and figuratively, but it was worth it. You may want to stop at the only gas station in town and inquire on the availability of a job and a room to rent out back.

8. If you’re still hopelessly lost in the woods at this point, might as well make the best of it and become a mountain man. It’s better than being back home, and you know the food will be better.

Alien Abduction

1. It’s late at night.

2. You’re driving home.

3. Call your wife and tell her you see a strange light in the sky.

4. Hang up in the middle of the call.

5. Leave the car on the side of the road.

6. Hitch a ride somewhere.

7. Anywhere.

Ralph Gamelli has been published in The Big Jewel, McSweeney’s, Monkeybicycle, and Yankee Pot Roast. This is the part where he’s supposed to put down some little joke, but as always he refuses to bow to societal expectations. More by Ralph Gamelli