one million 1000000 likes FacebookOne million Facebook followers for Single Dad Laughing? Huh? That wasn’t ever supposed to happen.

One million?

Do you realize how many a million is? It’s a ridiculously big number. No human should have a million of anything that isn’t body cells or thoughts about pizza.

A million?

I mean… THANK YOU. ALL OF YOU. It’s awesome. I’m excited. But why? How? Not me. That shouldn’t be possible.

Twenty years ago I was a high school junior pushing 300 lbs. No self-esteem, bullied to the point of self-hatred, and I would have given just about anything to be popular and loved by my peers.

11 years ago I tipped the scales at 350 lbs. I was very good at acting happy and put together. I was good at acting like I didn’t care or wasn’t broken by my past. But friends, you don’t get to three and a half bills without ghosts still haunting you.

Fast forward. I started this blog. People started following it. And that led to some very interesting realizations of what popularity really is and isn’t.

I still feel the same way I did when I wrote my latest book, The All-Important Well-Fed Giant White Man. Instead of rehash it though, I thought I’d share the chapter of my book with you all that covers it. There are a few things that won’t tie together completely if you haven’t read the book, but it should be just fine standing all on its own.

CHAPTER 31
“Famous and Popular {At Last}”

Somewhere between the affair and becoming oh so fabulous and famous (which I’ll get to), I got both married and divorced to another woman. This is what I learned from that extremely brief stint in my life.

Don’t get married on the rebound. Weekly or semi-weekly therapy gets really expensive, and if it ain’t working after a year, it probably ain’t gonna work at all. Certain mother-in-laws have the ability to make life gloriously awful. Redheads can be extremely beautiful and extremely feisty. Have quieter sex when your brother and his family are staying as guests in your home. And, it hurts really, really bad to get close to a child and have her suddenly disappear from your life.

But this chapter is not actually about that part of my life. It’s about me becoming famous. And popular. And renowned. And celebrated. I simply felt I had to stick something in here somewhere about my marriage number two. After all, it did happen. I guess. And it was the worthlessness I felt as a twice-divorced newly single dad that pushed me to start my blog which very quickly brought me my fame.

Single Dad Laughing. That is my blog. I know I don’t even have to tell you the name of it. That would be like Tom Hanks telling you he was in Sleepless in Seattle or Kim Kardashian telling you she has a nice ass. You already know. Everyone already knows.

Am I coming off as a complete jerk yet? Good.

I started my blog days after my wife tore-off down the street in our minivan, leaving me standing on the driveway, holding my confused son, feeling like the most valueless and miserable wreck on earth.

Remember those evil righteous frowns I told you about? The ones that people around here hand-out like Halloween candy when someone gets divorced? Well, this was divorce number two for me. The frowns get heavier and fatter on round two, only they start being accompanied by what I call righteous eyes. Above that frown, the eyes would somehow bulge while squinting, and they would say one of two things. Either, “there’s obviously something seriously wrong with you,” or “Dear God, please don’t touch me. I don’t want your failure to rub off on me and ruin my life and marriage, too.” This is usually supplemented with a barely detectible nervous head twitch and heavy breathing.

And so, in the thick of my insecurities about being divorced twice at the age of 30, I started my blog. Within a few months, I was writing entries that were going mega-viral. People were reading by the tens of thousands and then by the hundreds of thousands. I was being blogged about and talked about and discussed and heralded all over the internet. My Facebook fan page went from a few hundred to more than 30,000 all within the course of a month or two.

And suddenly, I was famous.

Women would now certainly beg to be with me. Friends would line up around blocks. I would be mobbed everywhere I went. It was finally my turn to be and have everything I deserved after so many trials and so much hard work.

Except… I wasn’t famous at all, and I seemed to be the only one who didn’t know that.

This is what I remember from my “thought I was famous” stage of life.

  • I would walk around grocery stores and shopping malls looking everyone dead in the eye as they walked past, creepily and mentally encouraging them to recognize me and make a fuss over my existence.
  • I turned down all sorts of interviews by local television shows and radio programs and bloggers who were so much smaller than I was because I was too big-time to deal with such small-time nuisances.
  • A producer from The Ellen Show called after I pompously coerced my fans into flooding Ellen and Oprah with requests to have me on. After five minutes on the phone with me, he hung up and never contacted me again because I was an arrogant nitwit.
  • I quit my really high paying job because, well, I was famous and I didn’t need it. After all, fame comes with a healthy side of opportunity, and I knew there would be plenty of it.
  • If a woman I was dating didn’t become a huge fan herself, I lost interest. She needed to think I walked on water just like everyone else obviously did.
  • I drove my family crazy. I drove my friends crazy. I drove every woman I dated crazy. Their annoyance with me was obviously based in jealousy.
  • I got a license plate that said SDL on it because I knew endless people would see those initials and honk and wave because they loved my blog so much.
  • I expected everything to just work in my favor without much further effort or thought from me. I expected free stuff from everyone. I wanted everything done for me. Even little things became annoying like having to butter my own toast or fill up my own gas tank.
  • I wore sunglasses indoors so that I wouldn’t be recognized when I as in a hurry.
  • Everywhere I went without sunglasses on, I had an excuse why nobody there was recognizing me. These people are too young. These people are too male. These people aren’t parents. These people would never read blogs. These people are so old they probably don’t even know what the Internet is. These girls are too stuck-up and prissy to read my kind of stuff. These guys only care about tech sites. These people just aren’t (fill in pretentious and self-deluding blank, I probably thought it).

This phase lasted about a year, and if I’m being honest, I’m surprised I have any friends or family members left who will even tolerate my presence now. If any of them weren’t famous at all (the way I wasn’t) and started acting the way I did, I assure you I would have grabbed them by the shoulders, shook them nice and hard, slapped them up and down a few times, and told them, “get over your fucking self. No one gives a shit.”

But everyone in my life was too nice to do that for me.

My fatal poison was that every so often, and not often at all, someone, somewhere would recognize me. I’d get occasional emails from strangers that would say things like, “I saw you at the park yesterday.” Every once in a while I’d be at a party and someone I didn’t know would pipe in, “hey, I know you! You’re Single Dad Laughing!” and then they’d get everyone to start talking about me and my famous blog. Yes, all this happened just often enough that I was able to hold onto the illusion that I was actually famous. I led myself to believe that most people who did recognize me were too shy or respectful to say anything or to approach me. I believed that my fans were everywhere and simply too intimidated by my fame to accost me.

And, like I said. I wasn’t famous, and I was the only one who didn’t seem to know it.

Eventually, I accepted the fact that I had turned into a pompous, self-indulged douchebag, and I went back to regular life as the non-famous fairly enjoyable person I have always tried to be. My friendships immediately strengthened. Family dinners were more enjoyable. And I liked myself more. The funny thing is, once I got over myself, my blog started growing faster than it ever had before.

I’ve thought a lot about it since that span of my life. These are some of the many lessons I’ve learned or observed about fame.

  • The more I learn about fame, the more I don’t want it. I really don’t. Nowadays I turn down interviews, reality TV shows, and many other opportunities for no other reason than that the thought of actual fame scares the living hell out of me. I’ve seen what being almost famous can do to this giant white man. I’d hate to think what would actually happen if I somehow did one day become famous.
  • There are two kinds of fame. Fame for a person. And fame for a person’s work. I’d much rather have my work be famous and never be recognized in public at all.
  • Fame can’t be measured. Not really. The most famous movie star can walk right by your grandmother and she might not recognize her. But your grandmother would recognize you. That means, to your grandmother, you’re more famous than the movie star.
  • When people think you’re famous, they will guilt you left and right to use your fame and platform for their advantage or gain. This is especially true of people that were once, long ago, good friends.
  • Having kids and being in the public eye comes with its own set of unique challenges. I have to be overly protective of my kid which isn’t always fair to him.
  • Becoming popular doesn’t get rid of the crazy shit that runs in the background of your life. Instead, it amplifies it. Just take my word for that.
  • Famous people are like cops. They’re either really awesome or really big weenies.
  • Popularity doesn’t last without considerable ongoing effort to remain constantly fresh in the minds of others. This is true for famous movie stars, brands, musicians, athletes, and even the popular kids at school. I have a large blog following and I promise you, if I suddenly disappeared, very few people would notice and even fewer people would care beyond a day or two.
  • People are just people, no matter how famous they are. As a blogger, I’ve had the opportunity to sit across from Betty White, Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Zac Efron, and many others. Every time I do, I can’t help but humorously think, what is the big deal exactly? This person is just like any other person. They’ve all got to take their morning tinkles just like the rest of us. They all have their insecurities, and their quirks, and their bad days, and their weaknesses. Well, everyone except Betty White. I’m pretty sure she is actually my idea of perfect.
  • It doesn’t matter who you are, there will be people who resent, loathe, or straight-up hate you for your popularity. This is strangely even true for Betty White. Who I secretly hope adopts me as her grandson one day.
  • Nobody just gets famous. Sure, many of us will experience our 15 minutes of it without any effort, but the truly famous are there because of three things. Some sort of uniqueness. A lot of hard work and persistence. And more than anything else, a lot of
  • It is fun to be recognized by strangers so long as you’re not in a giant hurry. It is really fun when a stranger makes a big deal about you and starts screaming and getting all crazy about your existence. This has happened to me exactly four times, and all four times were while I was shopping at Walmart. I’m not sure what to take from that.
  • If you’re actually famous, having fans flip out on you four times is probably more of a daily number and definitely not a lifetime achievement number.
  • If you’re actually famous, you probably don’t shop at Walmart.

Perhaps more than anything else, I’ve learned that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being popular or famous. The danger comes when anyone truly thinks they are more important than any other human when fame or popularity happens upon them.

As for me, I’ve learned what I want, and it’s not fame. I do have to keep constantly fresh in the lives and minds of my readers. It’s how I make my living. But I don’t want fame from it.

I can say with integrity that I want instead to be remembered by my friends and family as the person who showed up when it mattered most. I want to be remembered as the person who never felt himself better than they, better than he actually was, and who always looked for the true beauty in others while being very much okay with them for exactly who and what they were.

I want to be remembered by my son as the dad who was always there, the dad who truly cared for him, the dad who taught him how to work and learn, and the dad who supported him in every dream his young mind ever conjured, never stepping into a “let’s be realistic about your future” mode.

I want to be remembered by the person to whom I someday devote the rest of my life as the man who always put her first, never went too long without buying her flowers, genuinely cared about the little things in her life, and who was always faithful. Oh, and as the most amazing lay she ever had. That would be nice, too.

I’ve spent a few years now reading the daily feedback on my blog posts and comments over social media. There were single days when millions would visit my work, thousands would leave loving and wonderful comments, and still it would mean nothing to me because I would go to bed those nights and stare across at an empty pillow next to mine, wondering how it was that if so many people loved me, I was alone at the end of the day.

To love and be loved in return. Nothing is better than that. No amount of fame. No amount of popularity. No amount of money. This is what I now know. Whether it’s with your children, your partner, or your family and friends. Nothing is better than to love and be loved in return.

I originally wrote that chapter a couple years ago, when my blog had hundreds of thousands of followers, certainly nowhere near a million.

I can honestly say nothing has changed. If anything, I’ve become more distanced from the “popularity,” and cherish the real people in my life all the more.

The numbers mean nothing. I am somehow thankful individually for each of you. I understand that I don’t have a giant following on Single Dad Laughing. I have individual and amazing people following along. Each of you individually means so much to me. Your support. Your kindness. Your awesomeness.

Thank you for being in this with me. Here’s to many more amazing laughter and tear-filled years to come.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

PS. If you haven’t read my book you totally should! It’s full of way too much information, and will make you laugh, cry, and throw the book across the room a time or two. You can find out more about it here.

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Dan Pearce is an American-born author, app developer, photographer, and artist. This blog, Single Dad Laughing, is what he's most known for, with more than 1.4 million daily subscribers as of 2017. Pearce writes mostly humorous and introspective works, as well as his musings which span from fatherhood, to dating, to life, to the people and dynamics of society. Single Dad Laughing is much more than a blog. It's an incredible community of people just being real and awesome together!