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First Date

First Date

Ratings: (0)|Views: 1,673 |Likes:
Published by Tom Matlack
What happened the first time a boy showed up at my door to take my 16 year-old daughter on a date.
What happened the first time a boy showed up at my door to take my 16 year-old daughter on a date.

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Published by: Tom Matlack on Nov 17, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/07/2012

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First Date
 
“You have a pseudo-beard, a necklace with a snake, and are way overtwo hundred pounds,” my 16-year-old daughter Kerry said in apleading voice.“What are you saying?” I asked, with just a hint of a grin.“He’s totally scared of you, Dad. If you screw this up I will kill you.”“I think as the assistant man of the house,” Seamus, my 14-year-oldson, chirped in, sensing an opening. “I deserve one question.”“Yeah, right.” Kerry sneered sarcastically.“And as assistant man of the house in training, Cole deserves aquestion too,” Seamus continued, referring to his five-year-old brother.“What could you possibly ask?” Kerry, now staring at her brother withthe look of a defense lawyer insulted by a plea bargain offered up by aprosecutor for her falsely accused client, asked.“You know, Cole could ask the kid’s favorite land animal,” Seamussaid, with a straight face. “I want to know what farm animal he’d like tohave sex with.”For my daughter’s sake, I tried not to laugh. This Saturday afternoonwas a really big deal in her life, and mine. But I had to look away; myteenage son’s humor hit me in that crevice of your brain that getstickled at exactly the wrong moment, causing laughter at funeralswhen everyone else is crying.What brought me back was thinking about my little girl, of what shewas like as a baby and toddler and teenager. How mighty the strugglehad been to get to this moment.County Kerry, or
Ciarraí 
in Gaelic, in Ireland is known for the mixedblood born of Spanish occupation and giving rise to a tribe of darkcomplexion and wild temperament. A “Kerry Girl” is a free spirit. MyKerry may have long blonde hair and blue eyes, but she is a Kerry Girlfor sure.#As a baby she never slept, but I tried, spending the wee hours of themorning listening to Van Morrison and rocking her in a futile attempt toget her to stop screaming. Not long afterward, her mom and Iseparated. Kerry would come visit me in my rental apartment on Friday
 
nights, and we’d grab a pizza in the Federal Hill section of Providenceand settle in for a night of pillow fights.Given an opening in any public space, the girl would run. She was fast,too. For a time her mom lived on Cape Cod, and when I visited I wouldtake Kerry to Nausett Beach, a huge expanse of sand and boomingwaves, and set her down. She’d be off chasing sandpipers through thesurf. Since there was nowhere for her to go, I would jog behind, makingsure she didn’t dive into water over her head.On another occasion I made the mistake of attempting to take Kerry,then three, and her baby brother Seamus in a snowstorm to see myparents in D.C. The direct flight from Boston was cancelled, but wewere able to get out on a connection through Newark. Once there allthe airports shut down, and for several hours I tried to chase Kerryfrom one terminal to the next with Seamus in my arms. When weultimately made it to National Airport, Kerry ran so far ahead Imomentarily lost sight of her. By the time I made it to baggage claimshe was standing proudly and holding my mom’s hand, having foundher way with no help from me.As Kerry grew into a teenager, her wild side took root on the stage. Iapproached her junior high and then high school performances withgreat trepidation, but soon I realized that here, too, her fearlessnessleft me as a dad with nothing to fret about. In packed house afterpacked house she performed so effortlessly and clearly enjoyingherself on stage that I finally had to decide that if she wasn’t going toget nervous, then I had no reason to, either.What continued to trouble me, however, was what I heard from Kerry,and saw in our culture, about how sexuality is currently practicedamong high school boys and girls. I wrote widely about porn,prostitution, hooking up, and teen sensations from Bella Swan to LadyGaga. Kerry and I had many long discussions about why only threegirls in her class of 125 had boyfriends and the rest had to put up withguys wanting open sexual contact. I was angered by what she told me,but helpless to do anything but admire her courage and strength incontinuing to articulate what she wanted and wishing the terms of engagement with boys were somehow different than they are.#So by the time the doorbell rang, I had stopped laughed and gottenquite serious. The runs on the beach, the scene at National Airport,even a trip to see Gwen Steffani for her birthday circled around in myhead. Yes, Kerry had gone to the prom. She had, I feel sure, engaged

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Helen Winslow Black added this note
"And then they were gone." Sigh :) Love this piece, Tom, can relate tho I'm on the other side of that equation with my 16-year-old eldest being male. p.s. ADORE the cover photo of you, tell me that's you. So cute. p.p.s. Did you upload the text in blue or is my computer going nuts?
Alison Krupnick added this note
This is lovely and touching and Kerry's lucky to have a dad like you.
kzklwin added this note
sweet ... very sweet and touching ... =D
Jed Diamond added this note
Tom, very sweet. Reminds me of my "wild" daughter, who at age 5 would run headlong towards the swimming pool, jump in, sink immediately to the bottom. I always had to be quick to pull her out sputtering for air before it was too late. Two minutes later she would do it again. I had hoped motherhood would bring "payback" for my terrors, but her daughter, Teanna, is quiet, responsible, and safe.
Helen Winslow Black added this note
"And then they were gone." Sigh :) Love this piece, Tom, can relate tho I'm on the other side of that equation with my 16-year-old eldest being male. p.s. ADORE the cover photo of you, tell me that's you. So cute. p.p.s. Did you upload the text in blue or is my computer going nuts?
Haruna Kisaragi Kontong added this note
You are so good with your daughter. Some parents just say no even when the 'little girls' in question are more than 18 years old.

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