PASADENA, CA—Looking out at a sea of expectant faces, new father Dan Rudloff commemorated the birth of his daughter, Elizabeth, by holding the small, vulnerable child in his arms and blurting out a series of lies and half-truths about how happy he was at that moment.
"Oh my God," said Rudloff, staring down at the squalling, vernix-covered infant who will depend on him for everything from eating, to bathing, to keeping her head upright. "She's beautiful."
Realizing he was now forever tethered to this utterly helpless new life, responsible for its shelter, upbringing, education, safety, and all related expenses for the next 18—or, perhaps more accurately, 25—years, Rudloff rattled off a series of patently false pleasantries about being overjoyed with his new baby girl. The 32-year-old property manager even managed to form his lips into the strained approximation of a smile, despite suffering through near-constant visions of dropping the fragile baby or accidentally squishing her delicate internal organs with his clumsy, brutish hands.
According to onlookers, Rudloff took the resulting lull in conversation as an opportunity to shift his gaze from his wailing progeny and stare into his wife's opiate-sedated eyes, at which point the two shared the knowing glance that comes only with the realization that your days of selfish solitude, unrestrained drinking, sleeping in until noon, and enjoying any semblance of independence are now forever gone. After taking several deep breaths to maintain his composure, Rudloff came up with another sentiment he thought was expected of him
"This is the greatest day of my life," Rudloff said in an apparent attempt to convince friends and family of his delight so he could sit down, drink a glass of water, and gather his thoughts. "I've never been happier."
In fact, records indicate the new father had been happier on several occasions in the past month alone, usually following a satisfying meal. Records also suggest the greatest day of his life actually involved a particularly fun round of miniature golf that ended with the coital act that resulted in the child he was† now holding.
Nevertheless, Rudloff continued to grasp for more happy words to conceal his trepidation at not being able to casually leave the house for the next 13 years without making provisions for his daughter.
"This is so…," said Rudloff, thinking "nightmarish nightmarish nightmarish" as tears began to well in his eyes. "I never thought this day would actually come. I'm—I'm speechless."
Thus fulfilling the first of thousands upon thousands of new fatherly obligations, Rudloff posed for a picture.
Though not a habitual liar, Rudloff has skirted the truth to meet social expectations on previous occasions. Late last year, he expressed gratitude to his mother-in-law after receiving a Scottish sweater for Christmas; and from the ages of 14 to 16, he feigned an interest in playing JV football.
After estimating that he had held her for an adequate amount of time, Rudloff quickly scanned the room to find a suitable candidate to whom he could relinquish control of the infant before he completely lost it right there in front of everyone he knew.
"I can't imagine doing anything greater than this with my life," said the hapless father, hoping against hope that his daughter would not retain the memory of his trembling arms and grow to resent him, leaving home at 15 to cover her body in tattoos and piercings and hitchhike around the country, bedding any random trucker whose arms would give her the feeling of protection she never received from her worthless dad. "Here you go, honey."
Satisfied with his masquerade of cheerfulness, Rudloff gingerly handed the infant back to his wife.
"I'm so proud of you," Dana Rudloff said while thinking about an old college boyfriend she broke up with who went on to become a successful software designer. "You'll make a great father."