My name is William Joseph Redenbacher and I believe there is only one way to eat corn: unpopped. My personal preference is to steal it from a field at midnight and eat it raw while being chased by the farmer who owns the land (this infuses the cob with a sense of danger). But so long as those kernels remain taut and unpopped, however you consume your corn is A-OK with me.

God gave the Israelites corn and said, “Take this. And eat it only off the cob, with little tiny things called corn holders. Preferably these corn holders will look like smaller ears of corn, but they can also be plain or whatever. This is the only way you may eat it.” To pop corn is to shake your fist at God Himself and say, “I know better than you.” It is a sin, on par with murder, theft, and wearing cowboy boots to Church (they are too sexy and you simply do not do this). I would sooner rip the bowtie off my chest (which actually is a growth on my skin in the shape and color of a bowtie that all Redenbacher men are cursed with) than disgrace this crop by advocating for its consumption in an impure form.

So imagine my surprise when I walked in on my son, Orville, heating popcorn kernels on our stovetop. It was one of the biggest betrayals of my life, seeing as he knew I recently started mass marketing my own snack, “William Pretzenbacher’s Salty Yum Yums.” He told me, “It’s okay Dad, people can eat pretzels and popcorn.” I laughed in his face; take me to this magical utopia world where consumers purchase both pretzels and popcorn, because sweetheart, we ain’t living in it. I had only been stabbed in the back this maliciously once before, and it was in high school when my best friend gave me a swirly so bad that the principal made me pay for the damage to the plumbing.

I also know for a fact that Orville made this popcorn as an attempt to murder me. In a moment of weakness, I tried one piece and a kernel got stuck in my gums so badly that I demanded my wife take me to the Emergency Room. If they didn’t have disposable toothbrushes available to patients there, I doubt I would be alive writing this today. Also, the popcorn tasted real shitty. As they whisked me away in the stretcher, I looked at Orville and said as best I could given the oral emergency I was undergoing, “Did you put dog shit in this popcorn? Because it tastes like dog shit.”

It may seem like I am too hard on my son, but that’s only because I want him to excel at what I know he is best at: strapping a harness to his back and pulling a wagon full of passengers who throw wet pretzels at him. Why must the pretzels be wet? Well, wet pretzels make a more satisfying sound when they smack into the flesh than dry pretzels. And that kid can take a wet pretzel to the back of the neck like no one I’ve ever seen. He’s a natural.

I will admit that part of the reason I want him to continue working the Orville-drawn carriage is motivated by my desire to bolster sales of William Pretzenbacher’s Salty Yum Yums (the passengers have to get their wet pretzels from somewhere, and I’m certainly not going to let them bring theirs from home).

Plus, people really love pelting him with wet pretzels. It must be something about his appearance. Probably the bowtie and glasses combo. Total nerd shit. I mean, yeah, I have a bowtie too, obviously. And yeah, I also have glasses, albeit with a much, much stronger prescription than Orville’s. (I ruined my eyesight when I went to a burlesque show as a young man. My eyes shot out of my head upon seeing a particularly sultry entertainer and the doctors say it stretched my corneas to the point of permanently damaging them.) Yet I am not a nerd; I’m totally jacked from all the giant bags of salt that I have to carry to keep my pretzel side-hustle afloat. I can bench like 12 bags of them (which is about 300 pounds).

Just as a father has duties to his son, a son has duties to his father. A father’s job is to provide a roof over his son’s head, for instance. And a son’s job, in turn, is to be indebted to his father for the rest of his life. I’ve held up my end of the bargain, now it’s time for Orville to help papa peddle some pretzels.

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