Albert Elmore Rufkin spent the first thirty years of his life following the conflated advice that his mother had oft spouted:
If you have champagne tastes and a beer pocketbook? Make Lemonade Flavored Champagne.
Albert had no real idea how to execute this abstraction, but his mother's enthusiasm was contagious and had propelled him will into his twenties. By his mid-thirties, though, he was starting to wind down, doubt everything and wish that he could drown his sorrows in cheap beer and lemons. Fuck the champagne AND the lemonade. Maybe the saying had been wrong after all.
He didn't even consider suicide. Well he did, but not too seriously. The buoys that strung his days afloat across the dark swirling channels consisted of 1.) taking kids to school, 2.) walking the dog at midday, 3.) regular satisfactory performance reviews at work, 4.) deadlines and accomplishments and incremental pay raises, 5.) soccer games, 6.) band concerts and 7.) parent-teacher conferences.
Most days included 5 of these 7. Bad days included recurrences of more than one. One remarkable Thursday these seven buoys of the middle aged channels recurred in 16 consecutive conflations. Thursdays don't get much worse than that.
The thing that made suicide so distasteful was:
a.) how much negative action it required and
b.) how many negative effects would reverberate.
On the day that his garage door opener stopped working as he backed out, late to the middle school for morning drop-off, he cussed loudly.
Another Damn Robot Stopped Working.
His 13 year old son raised his eyebrows quietly and said nothing. Generally his father did not cuss, but when he did there was a faint whiff of beer and lemons in the air and he avoided getting involved in the conversation.
Before the car was out of the driveway? Albert Elmore Rufkin had not only decided that he was more like a robot than a human, but he had decided to develop a Human-to-Robot Transition Technique. If he could invent a path for middle aged humans to become more robot than human -- well the benefits would be obvious. All of the rest and peace afforded by suicide? Would be realized in the mechanization of routine, the elimination of exhaustion, the quieting of emotional turmoil.
Better yet? There would be no blowback from anyone.
A robot dad might be the best kind of dad you could imagine.
For the next five years he collected old computers, practiced a form of meditation well-known for it's "emptying" qualities and read copious amounts of Phillip K. Dick. By the time his fortieth birthday rolled around he was ready for the transition to be completed; his work had been so subtle and incremental that it only took one sick day, a rental generator and a padded corduroy recliner covered with 2 mil. plastic. (The plastic cover was a precaution that ended up being unnecessary.)
By the time he drove back to the high school to pick up his youngest child, his consciousness had been fully uploaded to four hard drives, his bodily systems were completely battery dependent, and no one seemed to be troubled (or even aware) of their newly reverse-frankensteined dad.
Finally. Lemonade Flavored Champagne.