Daddy's Little Girl
My 17 year old daughter is hot. In fact, according to her friends, Melissa is 'Smokin' Hot'.
Let me tell you, that can put a father's brain into all out war.
Of course I've noticed she's attractive. I watch how the male population in the stands watches her walk to the diving board at swim meets. It's awkward at best, cringe-inducing at worst.
I know boys. I even was one once. That instinct toward girls is uncontrollable. It is driven by desires we can never get our hands around, so to speak. It comes from the depths, rears its ugly head, and retreats until the next shapely babe walks by. I get all of that. To a lesser degree, I am STILL wired that way. I just am not happy when my daughter is that babe.
And in spite of her friend's exhortations, she seems clueless as to the effect her looks have on guys.
She is a book worm, an athlete, a warm, caring, even empathetic young lady who loves her mom, dotes on her grandmother, and even finds time to give the old man a hug every now and then, telling me she loves me.
Her flaws are not even worth mentioning.
I remember one time, about a year ago, I paused outside her bedroom door. She was listening to music. It was a song from my era. I was shocked to hear her break into song and sing along with the artist, Janis Ian.
"I learned the truth
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
who married young and then retired
The valentines I
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth..."
She sang it with passion and verve. Clearly not the first time she was listening to it. I was stunned. Did she really feel like an ugly duckling who didn't belong, resigned to stalk the sidelines of life, staying on the fringe, selling herself short, like Janis Ian sang?
I had raised my hand to knock, but thought better of it. The song, and her singing, continued. With a slightly broken heart, I walked away.
That night I spoke with my wife Rachel about what I'd heard. Rachel was clearly the source of Melissa's beauty. Thank God her gene pool had enough chlorine in it to kill my mongrel swimmers from our daughter's blood stream.
Rachel grinned at me and shook her head.
"Men will never understand what it's like to be a woman, or a girl, for that matter. You may see beauty, a nice body, a smile that makes traffic cones move out of the way. We look in the mirror and see a zit, a blemish, an eye that is juuuust slightly off kilter. We look at our ass and see Bolivia. Our tits? Forget about it. Never big enough. Never firm enough."
I sat and listened. Something Rachel had been encouraging me to do more of.
She continued. "You see 'hot babe'; we see guys watching us and think they are probably talking about how big our ass is.
You can tell us all you want that your motivations and desires are pure lust and admiration, but that pings off a girl's skull. One criticism, one little crack about tits or ass, and that bad boy buries deep and follows us to the grave. I STILL remember Jack Brokaw telling m my tits were too small. In SECOND GRADE, for Christ sake. Who was I supposed to look like, Anna Nicole Smith?"
I looked at my wife's ample bosom and swore to track down Jack Brokaw through the internet and firebomb whatever year Iroc Z he was driving.
"Okay," I began. "I actually get most if not all of that. I didn't then, in high school, of course, but having lived with and loved a thoughtful, intellectual and analytical woman for 24 years, I've picked up a lot."
"Ok, you're getting some tonight. Keep going."
I laughed. "I guess I'm concerned with where she got some of this mentality, this seeming unwillingness, or even inability, to recognize that, imperically, she's very attractive."
"You're still not getting it. It's not because of guys. We got enough pawing, and awkward removals of bras and probing fingers that were clueless in high school to still realize you guys worshipped us, that you clowns needed us A LOT MORE than we needed you."
"Now I'm lost."
"That comes with having a dick. It's the other girls that keep us down. It's the herd mentality. It's in every girls best interest to not have any of their friends be a beauty queen, astride a pedestal, to then take ALL of the boy's attention, leaving none for us ugly ducklings. So we keep the pretty ones under our thumb. It's been that way for centuries. It's how we maintain civility in the troops when the only real goal is to get a guy to like us."
My head was spinning. I rubbed my eyes with my knuckles. "So what ever happened to the sisterhood of women? One for all, that crap?"
"Oh, it's there. But that doesn't come upon us until we've had our hearts broken, or our noses broken, or our lives torn apart. Only as wounded gulls do we flock together in empathy, in support. When we are young and the ass still defies gravity, and the nipples point skyward, it's all for one, baby. The camaraderie acquired later in life is kind of feminism driven, and you don't see many legit feminists at Melissa's age."
I soaked it all in. Rachel's good natured rant allowed me to understand HER a bit better, but I don't think I was any closer to getting the current teenage girl scene.
remember those who win the game
Lose the love they sought to gain
To those of us who
knew the pain
Of valentines that never came…"
About six months prior, Melissa had her first date. I opened the door to a normal, non-descript looking kid, about six inches shorter than me. Brown tousled hair, pinkish skin, and eyes that peered up at me, almost fearlessly.
I tried to make my face neutral, but I'm sure my own eyes were imparting the following, "Don't even THINK about it, Pal".
It's a father's right, and I felt little or no guilt making the kid squirm.
But tonight, after Rachel's thought provoking insights, I wondered why Melissa wasn't dating the star QB on the football team, or the stud forward on the basketball team. What was this little Bob's Big Boy troll doing taking my daughter out?
Then I got it. Girls are taught to never shoot too high. Keep their expectations realistic. To "settle". And those pernicious lessons are imbued by young girls from multiple sources.
Self confident, strutting young ladies are looked down upon as tramps, easy, obvious, whores even. Objects.
Of course I didn't want my Melissa to be like that, or to be perceived like that. Nor, apparently, did she.
I went to bed that night with Rachel, and she lived up to her promise. WAY up, as she usually did. She was an incredible lover.
I had one desire left unquelled by my loving wife. I wanted Melissa to follow, as closely as possible, in the footsteps of her mom.
Great women are not born. They are created.
"We all play the
game, and when we dare
We cheat ourselves at solitaire
Inventing lovers on the phone
Repenting other lives unknown
That call and say:
"Come on, dance with me"
And murmur vague obscenities
At ugly girls like me, at seventeen..."