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It was a busy day and I’m going to flirt with that fine line of cheating or not cheating. My vow was to write everyday which I am now currently doing very close to my nighty-night time. Length was never a criteria but it seems wrong to just pop in, say it was a busy day and then be off to bed.

I’m not exactly sure what the point of this whole year is but I get the feeling it’s not just about checking in.

So what I’m doing is posting below a short story I wrote last November for a short story contest. I didn’t hear anything about it so I guess I didn’t win anything. The theme was a “growing up” situation with your teenager, or it may have been teenage daughter I don’t quite remember.

I did some writing today which is one side of the fence and copying and pasting some past writing which is the other side of the fence.  Momma said there’d be days like these. Actually she didn’t say that at all, my mom wouldn’t know what copy and paste means, not in the present tense at least.

Without further adieu, I give you “Strapless.”

My daughter is 13 years old with a 16-year-old body and a 47-year-old brain. I try not to acknowledge them, I don’t like knowing she has them, but nonetheless they are there. Boobs. My daughter has boobs.

Who let this happen?

I have no doubt that if I know they are there, then every teenage boy within a 35 million mile radius also knows they are there.

Single fatherdom has its ups and downs. There is no, “Go ask your mother.” There is no one else to buy her feminine hygiene products. There is no one else to dry the tears left by boy cooties. But because of all this, we are probably closer than most fathers and daughters.

One of the biggest downfalls currently would be bra shopping. Now, she’s been wearing female support garments for almost two years, so we have done this shopping trip before. The difference today is we are shopping for a strapless bra.

Strapless.

Meaning nothing is holding it up. It can be easily pulled down, which is not what a father wants to hear.

Who let this happen?

Is it the same person that let her have boobs? Because I’m gonna kick his ass!

There’s a formal 8th grade holiday dance (so it’s the schools fault). Then this boy…

(NO!!! No boys!! It’s his fault, no it’s his father’s fault, need to go back in time and wipe out the whole family…

…who she’s been crushing on all year – quoted directly from her – “has indicated that he might like to ask her but he isn’t really quite sure about how he feels.” This is what she hears through 27 different people, only two of which are sort of friends. There is blame to be laid somewhere.

I’m still left dumbfounded that I agreed to this shopping adventure. I vaguely remember the conversation, but she had me in a Doritos-ice cream-caramel-macchiato-voodoo induced spell. I should have known something was coming when she brought out the daddy-I-want-something voice, but she lured me through the looking-glass by offering to treat me to Starbucks. It had the stale stench of trap written all over it, but I stupidly believed that maybe she discovered on occasion she should appreciate her life-giving father.

Rookie mistake.

There is still some confusion on where the heck a black dress that needs a strapless bra was obtained anyway. She speaks doublespeak fluently, and I was slayed in about 30 seconds in that joust.

So, on this day I have agreed to go strapless bra shopping with my 13-year-old daughter.

Groan…

It is a black, black day. And by black, I mean the color underwear she needs. Black should never be a color option for underwear made for girls under the age of 21! The word black drips with sex. Little black dress is the only phrase in my mind when I think about women and the color black. I am not a unique male in this fact.

“Are you ready yet?” I yell out. It’s a trip to the mall, yet she’s been getting ready for an hour. “I might see somebody there I know, dad,” is the answer I get to my stupid previous question of why it’s taking so long. Eye rolling and sarcasm should really be a teenage Olympic sport.

Finally, she appears. Dare I say she doesn’t look any different than she did an hour ago? Experience tells me to keep this opinion to myself. My brain may not always be in gear, but this was an obvious place to stay in park.

“Ya ready?” She asks like she’s been waiting on me.

With all the patience I can muster, saving what I can for later because I know I’ll need it, I say, “Yeah, let’s go.” I smile my best fake I-really-do-love-my-daughter smile and head for the car.

With vehicle in sight, all I can think about is her driving soon and then car dates and then what kind of dates happen in cars and then what gets touched in cars. My chest tightens, and I have to stop, close my eyes, and breathe deeply.

“Are you ok?” she asks with disdain, more annoyed that she has to do this with me than concern for my well-being.

I’ll never be ok again.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I say. I open my eyes and see her body. I think she got older in the last ten feet. I swear when I have grandchildren I’m pretending she found them in the cabbage patch. “Let’s go.” I sigh softly.

Pulling into the mall parking lot, I realize we have not discussed where to shop. I need to gear up mentally for this debate. Good thing I had my Wheaties this morning. My thinking is we are shopping in Wal-Mart in the grandma section. I’m sure her thought process is a bit more elevated than that.

I park, we exit the car, and without saying anything head in two different directions.

Here we go…

“Where are you going?” She asks with the exasperated voice that is directly linked to the why-can’t-you-read-my-mind gene, which incidentally gets stronger in adult females. She already knows the horrifying answer but wants me to say it so she can bristle in disgrace in public.

My answer here is crucial. It will set the tone for the rest of the afternoon, and that tone is already in a sour, questionable state. You might think that previous wisdom would kick in here, but trying to predict your teenage daughter’s moods is like throwing water on a gremlin.

Phrasing it very carefully, I say, “I thought we would start in Wal-Mart to check out sales.”

Her hackles were raised, but the word start seemed to tame the beast — for now.

Similar to getting a bird to take seed from my hand, I slowly coax her into following me to the bad, generic store that would have boring things. It’s no matter to her that those things do the same job of defying gravity that the high-end others did.

You might think getting her inside the store was the hard part, but you would be so wrong. I head right for the women’s section, because even though she doesn’t seem to realize it, I want this over as quickly as she does. As much as I want to have that special relationship with my daughter, this is just too special.

Realizing she is not with me, I turn to see her chatting with a boy. A boy! I can’t decide if I want to tackle him or run to sporting goods and steal a shotgun. Who allows boys to be in a place where my daughter may be potentially shopping for a bra? And shopping for a bra means trying it on which means she would be half-naked in a store where there is a boy! Who allows this madness??

Before I can decide which irrational solution to put in place, she is walking away from him but not before he has hugged her. I feel faint. The whole store begins to spin, and I am falling through a black well of darkness that suddenly opens beneath me.

Walking past me, she snorts over her shoulder, “You coming?”

I’m pretty sure I saw the devil laughing at me before I got my full vision back. With rubber legs, I follow her to the unmentionables section and watch her walk up and down each aisle, stopping twice to take an item off the rack.

Walking past me again, she says, “Nothing here.” The whole shopping experience took about 93 seconds.

Tail between my legs, I take the loss and just follow her out. It’s not like it is my first defeat.

Five steps ahead of me the entire time, she heads for the mall entrance. I hope she’s heading for a department store, but I know she’s not. She’s heading for – yep, I knew it – she’s heading for Victoria’s Secret. Who is this Victoria anyway? Probably some boy turned man who just wants to look at my baby half-naked in a dressing room!

She struts in with purpose while I sneak in with shame. Not that I haven’t been in the store, just not under these circumstances. I can feel every accusing eye in the store on me wondering what this pervert is doing here. Talk about double standards.

I spy her in a corner with some other girls. I recognize two of them, and they all look older than their 13 years. Walking over cautiously so as to not stampede the herd, I say, “Find anything?”

All the girls say hello, and I actually get a hug from one who finds my dorky dadness cute.

“I don’t need to look. I know which one I want. I went online last week to look.”

With my head mentally exploding, I ask, “When were you going to tell me that?”

“I just did.”

Her friends giggle, and that was the reaction she wanted – showing off in front of her friends, so she could show her power. I try very hard to remember my days as a teenager. The only difference was if I ever spoke to my father like that, there would have been a person-sized hole in the wall where he had thrown me through it.

I just smile and let her have her moment. “Well, you should try it on then,” I say softly and even toned.

One of the girl’s moms who had just walked up asks, “Did you bring your dress?” Baby girl looks at me, aggravated and panicked at the same time, and doesn’t answer. “You need to try it on with your dress, so you know if it’s ok.”

“Yep, it’s in the car,” I say. “I’ll go grab it.” My daughter gives me a very surprised, small, almost nonexistent smile so as to not tip off her friends that this father person actually did something right.

Dress in hand, she does her girl thing in the dressing room and steps out to model. Boobs – there is no denying it. Despite how I’m feeling, she looks beautiful, and I tell her so.

Reversing the process, she steps back out in street clothes, sidles up to me, and whispers in my ear, “Thank you for bringing the dress.”

I smile, “See? I know things.”

She pecks me on the cheek, and we head for the check out.

Her friends ask if she wants to hang out for a while.

She looks at me, turns back to them, and says, “No thanks, I’m gonna treat my dad to a Starbucks.”

It’s the most sincere thing I’ve ever heard her say.

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