Dear Mom and Dad,

To think, I once regarded those two wonderful words in the same fashion as you ignoramuses.But first, dear mom: please do not let dad see this letter. Instead I request that you read it to him, as that act would not constitute direct communication between us. I am still not speaking with that man due to the 1998 incident in which your husband thought he could simply use one of my Dragon Tales tapes to record the Super Bowl. You might remember that was the same year I failed out of my graphic design program, which has only made the comic book version of my life less marketable to publishers.

You may be surprised to hear that I bring good news. As both of you know, I have delayed the beginning of my adult life significantly. It takes many years for a man to forge his will, and venturing forth too early can cause mistakes such as yourselves. It is clear that you did not take the time to plan your path in life, and all the evidence I need lies within the deep sobs I hear when I descend to the kitchen for my meatball sandwiches. But I have succeeded where you did not by finding a group that will accept me unlike the various youth organizations, adult learning annexes, and Boy Scouts of America agencies that have made it clear in writing that I am to no longer use their services.

Mom and dad, I am now a Shorty.

These are my real friends. You'll notice they've never casually asked if I could "put some of those old toys on eBay."Yes, this term may bewilder the uninitiated, so please let me explain. You are no doubt familiar with the Strawberry Shortcake characters, who have delighted and entertained openers of greeting cards since 1980. I am proud to inform you that these beloved figures are now starring in an animated television program that has changed my life drastically, and unlike my anime phase, I am not pretending to be a fan in order to associate with people who are much more popular than myself. Mom and dad, I am lucky enough to have discovered perhaps the greatest written work of mankind, one that delights, uplifts, and has taught me the true value of companionship.

As you know, my Asperger's Syndrome has made communication with the outside world difficult at best. Though you consistently deny this claim, three separate Facebook tests have confirmed my diagnosis, including one authored by the same writer of one that correctly identified Spence as the King of Queens character I am most like. And as I am not fit to climb any length of career ladder, buddying up to "workplace mates" is impossibility. But the trials and travails of Strawberry Shortcake, Ginger Snap, Plum Pudding and the rest have revealed to me the value of human connections and brought me into contact with fellow "Shortys" who also find phone conversations more terrifying than any roller coaster. On that note, please know that I would like you to order my dinner pizzas from now on.

Please note that I would like this installed at my next birthday party. I have left the bounce house catalog on the kitchen table and marked the specific page.Since I require advanced written permission before visitors are admitted to my room, you have not seen the various Shortcake-related posters, collectable figures, and linen sets currently found within. To field your most obvious question, yes, the Strawberry Shortcake program is intended for children five years and younger -- but only if you listen to the marketing. Supervising director Ken Billingsley -- of SWAT Kats fame -- has triumphed over adversity by bringing his brilliant vision to the screen after more than 30 years in the industry. I know Mr. Billingsley is a kind man, as every fan script I have sent him has been returned in an unopened state. To this day I thank him for teaching me the value of copywriting my own work.

Online, I am not your son, but Pumpkin Pie, a gourd maven who keeps his friends close and his enemies closer. I would prefer that you would refer to me as such, and also assist me with installing the vanity license plates that will help spread the gospel of Strawberry Shortcake to fellow drivers. That will have to wait for my return, though, for as you read this, I am headed to the third annual CakeCon in none other than Dayton, Ohio. Mom, I hope that dad was able to join you in the reading of this letter, as he entered the bathroom with his usual pint of whiskey this morning, and is still locked in there as I am writing this. How long does that man need to take a single bath? I hope his lack of concern for others does not further contribute to this family's downfall.

- Pumpkin Pie

– Bob "BobServo" Mackey

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