Now, on the surface, there is no harm to that question. We ask our children that question as early as kindergarten, and they say the darndest things! "Veterinarian." "Doctor." "Pro Athlete." "Nurse." "Rapper." "President."
For me, for many years of my life, I answered this: "Talk show host."
Looking back on that answer, the earliest I could have possibly said that was age 14. So that was 30 years ago, and I think that answer and question had some sort of weird impact on my development.
Where in the world did that answer come from? Well, obviously, it was connected to Mr. David Letterman. I liked Letterman. My parents liked Letterman. We taped his shows on a VCR. ... I guess I wanted to be funny like him when I grew up.
But looking past my affinity to Mr. Letterman, did being a talk-show host make sense? What does it mean to be a talk-show host, and what does that entail? I am not certain. Is talk-show host even an occupation?
I guess so, kind of. You got Jimmy Kimmel. Stephen Colbert. Jimmy Fallon. Talk show hosts are vaguely out there, but if they are out there, I see only about seven in a world of 7 billion. OMG, mathematically, is it really an occupation?
It turns out that the messages we send our young, impressionable children could very well affect them when they are older. Ask any Catholic!
At the time, I thought I must follow my epic hero's journey to become Mr. David Letterman. But today, I must laugh at how silly and myopic that plan was. It's true that I didn't really take any steps toward becoming David Letterman, but I would still hear this comment: "Sure. But you never know."
Yes, you do! It might have been innocuous to say "talk show host," but I outgrew that idea by the time I got to college.
Maybe the question I'm bringing up is about dreams. Is there a problem with having unreachable dreams? But then I'm thinking, if you're going to have a dream why would you cap it out with David Letterman? Why not fly? Why not hit cleanup for the Cleveland Indians? Why not win the Indy 500? Why not be the new singer to Guns 'N' Roses?
As I have become a middle-aged guy, I do believe that it is OK to keep unreachable dreams alive. And for now, I no longer want to be David Letterman. I want to be Donnie Iris: