Tag Archives: Dance

letters to my father part 3

No, there was no way. She wouldn’t do something like this. This spoiled the mystery. This took all the fun out of the cat and mouse game we were playing. Would she? This was really playful and sneaky, which was like her.

“Hello?” The voice on the end said. “Is anybody there?”

“Uh, yes, I’m calling about a dance lesson.” I said.

“Right, I’ve been expecting you. You are looking into ballroom right?” She’s been expecting me!

“Sure, ballroom sounds good.” I said. She’s been expecting me huh? I’ll play along. “So how long have you been expecting me?” I asked.

“About an hour.” She responded. Only an hour? That couldn’t be right. I’d been reading the letters for about three months now.

“An hour?” I ask, hoping that I had misheard. I knew my hearing was just fine, but I wanted something to pick up my sinking spirits.

“Yeah, an hour.” She responded. “Your friend called about an hour ago to reserve you a spot in our upcoming class this Saturday. It’s a good thing to, because that class is filling up quickly.” My hopes shot back up.

“This friend, did she give a name? First and last please.” Wait, asking for first and last names was kind of creepy, even if this person was a friend. “Uh, I have trouble keeping my friends straight.” I added. It was true enough. I had a hard time keeping up with old friends.

“She didn’t give a first and last name.” Great, now I was just going to have to wonder if it was my Sarah or not. “She just said if you asked for her name to call her ‘little stinker’. So you could say little is her first and stinker is her last.”

It was her! Sarah could travel back here, that meant she was probably out there right now, or she could be here right now watching me. Our game of hide and seek suddenly had new energy. She was here. She was actually here.

“Hello? Are you there? Sir, if there’s a better time for you to make this call we are open for a few more hours.” The patience of the lady who owned the dance studio was wearing thin.

“I’m sorry, no that is just fine. She plays these little games with me.”

“That’s adorable sir.” Said the studio owner in a voice that indicated she didn’t think anything about this conversation was adorable.

“She’s my little stinker.” She’s going to wonder where her nickname comes from when she’s a kid. It’ll be a great story to tell her. “Hey, did she sign up for the class? Or reserve an extra seat?

“No sir, it’ll just be you. You’ve just taken the last spot, and I happen to know the rest of the people taking the class. None of them answers to ‘little stinker’.” I guess it wouldn’t have been her style to show up herself. If she was going to she probably would have either said so in the letter, or given me no warning at all. Oh well, at least I know she’s here.

“Sir, are you signing up for the class or not?” The voice was now bordering on the impolite.

“Yes, yes, of course. When is it?” A few minutes later she had some credit card information, and I had information on when and where the class will be held.

During my nightly campfire I think about Sarah’s bait and switch with the dance studio. I wondered what I would do when we first met. If it was when she was a baby, when her mother gave her life, then it would probably me the ‘oh my gosh this is my kid’ stuff that other parents went through, but if we ran into each other now, when she was an adult, what would I do?

Could I ground her? She was putting me threw a loop, and I was still the parent, even if she had the upper hand, so I should be able to ground her. Did adult children ever get grounded? I guess once they moved out of the house you no longer had that power over them.

I take a pack of hot dogs and skewer a few, then prop up the skewers next to the fire. It took a while, but I think I had finally figured out the right distance from the fire and time to cook for hot dogs. I brought some buns, and munched on some baby carrots while I mused over my daughter. I couldn’t wait until I could read the next letter. When I was reading a letter from her, it was almost like talking to her.

I think when we meet I might do some sort of over the top ‘I can’t believe how much you’ve been yanking my chain’, but I’d probably calm down and want to talk about time travel instead. I hoped she managed it through some kind of future technology, and not through some sort of biological ability she had. I wanted to be able to come back with her. I could go see the coliseum in Rome, or the pyramids at Giza when they were actually being built.

We would have so much time to do things together, and I could be the one showing her how things work. Who knows, maybe I had taught her what she was now teaching me.

I take the hot dogs off the fire, put one in a bun, and take a bite. They are just right, and I’m saddened when I’ve eaten them all and my meal is at an end.

That reminds me of the letters. I’m halfway through, and the last two are going to be months or years apart. Will we just stop our cross temporal conversation when the letters end? What was going to happen during the long spaces in between the last two? I’m no longer as eager as I was to open the next letter, because it meant the end of our time together was drawing to a close.

I kick some dirt onto the fire to douse it, and slip into my tent. Unpleasant thoughts like that can wait until tomorrow.

Friday passed well for me, most days did. My relationship with my daughter was pleasant, sleeping outside made it a lot easier to go to bed at a reasonable hour, and my diet had become very manageable now that I had reached my target weight. My coworkers took notice of my much more friendly nature and good health. When it got out that I was going to start learning how to dance, some of my female coworkers even went so far as to mention that they had a few unattached female friends who simply loved dancing. I remembered my daughter’s plead about other women, and politely pretended not to understand what they were implying.

When I got home I ate and slept well, as usual, and set off for the dance lesson in good spirits when I woke up.

On the drive to the studio I thought about all the dance scenes I had witnessed in movies. Not the club scenes where there was no discernable reason or rhyme to the movements of the dancers, but the ordered dance scenes that were found in older movies. Great swathes of people executing choreographed and though out moves.

I understood ballroom wasn’t some spontaneous display of random movements, but it was more like a team sport where there practiced moves and plays that were executed in tandem. It was sort of a team sport where your partner was both a team mate and an opponent.

I arrived at the studio to find my grand thoughts of ball rooms dashed. In my head, the dancers had all been young men and women about my own age, all clad in gowns and suits. This was a foolish thought firstly because I was wearing a t shirt and jeans myself, and secondly because if I had thought about the matter more I would have realized everyone I knew who actually had some knowledge about dancing was much older than me. So I was rather shocked that the dance studio was filled with primarily older women. Any one of which could have been my mom’s mom, and all of which were as plainly dressed as me.

So this was my Sarah approved of this place, there was no way I could possibly get any of these ladies on a date. Once again amazed that my daughter had played a prank on me, and I had fallen for it, I signed in and joined the others.

The lesson started off with introductions from Sarah the instructor, who noted with some displeasure that I was present. It was awkward being at least twenty years younger than everyone else. Were all dance studios like this? How did young people learn to dance if they had no one there own age to dance with. No wonder my female coworkers had been so eager about me learning to dance, I must be the only person under fifty they had heard of who had knew how to do it.

The instructor split us off into two groups, male and female, and began teaching us a basic step. It was a simple step. You put one foot behind the other, lifted the front foot up, put it down, and then stepped in place with first your right foot, then your left foot. Back, front, left right, it was an easy sequence, but it took about half an hour to do it to a beat. You had to listen to the music and feel for the rhythm of the song. It wasn’t a hard task, and it showed how much of a beginner I was that it took me a half hour to do it. One of the few older gentlemen who had showed up told me not to worry about it, all young people had a lot of trouble finding the right beat in music.

I became somewhat envious of these older gentlemen as the teacher began to move the groups together and partner people up. There was an excess of women, so some of them had to wait their turn for a male partner. At this point the lesson became much more bearable. I wasn’t stepping on my feet anymore, and the older ladies were very appreciative of me.

“Oh don’t worry about it dear, just lift your hand a little higher, that’s it. See how easy that was?” One lady told me as we were learning how to spin our partners. She was by no means the exception either, the nice little old ladies were very enthusiastic about showing me lots of tips and tricks. Whenever I had got the hang of a move, and was waiting on the instructor to show us the next one, the ladies were kind enough to show me new moves of their own, or to practice some moves from earlier in the lesson. It was a wonder these women needed any lessons at all, they seemed to have already mastered everything the instructor showed us.

The whole session was about two hours long, and by the end of it, thanks to the wonderful ladies who took the time to educate a complete beginner, I could fumble my way through about thirty seconds of music without repeating a move. I also left with a new appreciation for the older generation. They knew some very useful stuff. The next time I was around an older relative I’d have to pick their mind and see what other knowledge I could benefit from.

It isn’t until I get home that I remember there’s something written on the back of the letter. After making myself a few BLT sandwhiches and grabbing an apple I pull it out and flip it over to read what’s on the back.

Are you always going to forget about your family like this?” I slap my forehead. Of course, I had forgotten about Grace. I had been so focused on learning to dance that she had completely slipped my mind.

I whip out my phone and dial her number.

“Hello?” She says. “Big brother is that you?” She calls me big brother like she’s missed hearing from me. It stings a little that she’s automatically fond of me.

“Hey Grace, how’s it going?” I ask, opting for a standard conversational question.

“Pretty good, what’s up?” She sounded perky.

“Not much, I just got back from a dance lesson and was wondering if you wanted to learn some basics with me.” Her response is rapid and strong.

“Absolutely! I love dancing, what kind are you learning?” She asks. I can imagine her crossing her fingers and hoping its ballroom.

“Ballroom, it’s pretty interesting, are you home today?” She doesn’t quite manage to hide the squeak in her voice. She sounds a lot like how I imagine my daughter sounds like.

“Yeah, are you coming over?” My family lives less than an hour’s drive from me. It won’t take long at all to hop in my car and drive.

“Sure am, I gotta take care of some things then I’ll be right over.”

“Awesome! Cya in a few big brother!” She hangs up the phone and I bolt down my meal before hopping in the shower. I had worked up a sweat learning to dance and was in need of a good rinsing down.

I have some time to think on the highways between our two houses. I use it to review everything I know about my younger sister. There isn’t much.

I think she’s interested in something artsy, maybe singing? I’m pretty sure she’s gotten into an out of state college, and I had a vague recollection of her having a boyfriend. I rack my brain for favorite movies, books, or TV shows, and come up with nothing.

When I pull into my parent’s driveway I’m nervous. This girl was just about a stranger to me, and she held me high regard. I felt like I was on a tall tower and that if I said the wrong word it could crush her. I resolve not to express any negative opinions until I know what she likes so that I avoid stepping on her feelings.

I ring the doorbell and then wring my hands. She answers it so fast that she must’ve been waiting next to the door.

“Hey big brother!” She exclaims, wrapping me in a forceful hug.

“Oh, hey sis.” I say, awkwardly hugging back. “You uh, ready to dance?” I ask.

“Totally! The parents moved a bunch of furniture out of the way in the living room so we can practice. Our two younger brothers won’t be back from softball practice for a few hours so we’ve got time. Come on in!” she leads me inside and downstairs to the living room. My parents are in the kitchen, I wave to them as we pass by. Not sure if I should stop and talk to them. They wave back, and them I’m past the kitchen and we’re in the living room.

“So, how does this work?” She asks. “I got a nice long skirt that’ll swish when you spin me.” She spins on her heel and her skirt arches outward, flowing gracefully around her. I make a mental note to ask about her boyfriend and make sure to threaten his life the next time I see him.

“Looks pretty sis. How’s um, Bryan?” I ask, trying to remember the kid’s name.

“Blake.” She responds, stopping her spin and looking somewhat deflated. “We broke up four months ago.”

“Oh.” I say. “Want to learn the basic step?” I ask.

“Sure!” She says, brightening back up. “How does it work?” I open a playlist on my phone of appropriate music to dance to, and we start off with the basic step.

She learns much more quickly than I did. In only about ten minutes she’s got it down, and can rapidly pick up the beat to any song I put on.

“That’s good sis, now let’s do some of those spins you were talking about.” She claps her hands, and I’m embarrassed with how easily she takes to spinning. It’s like she had come preprogrammed with dance knowledge. We work through every move I learned in half the time it took me to pick it up. This must be why there were so many more women than men at the dance class. Dancing seemed to come more naturally to women.

“I hate to say this sis, but that’s all I know.” I’m forced to say after about an hour. She pouts and says.

“Really, can we learn some more? There’s got to be stuff like this on youtube.” She has a point, and I do need to learn more moves. I can only go for about thirty seconds, and most songs I know last 3 or 4 minutes. I’d like to know at least one song’s worth of moves, if not several.

“That’s a good idea. I say.” Before I can even consent she pulls up a video on her phone.

“You were planning on learning new moves before I even showed up weren’t you?” I asked Grace. She blushed and nodded.

“I really want to learn this one.” She shows me the video on her phone, and that starts several hours of us learning new moves together. She takes to it like a fish to water, and by the time we finish she’s learning her part, and then teaching me my part. We master enough moves to go through one full song, and can do small changes to the moves to get through a second.

Our improvised dancing lesson turns into a ‘have you seen this ridiculous internet video’ contest. Our parents come in at some point and feed us dinner. The sun begins to set just as we start watching a spoof trailer for a movie that came out yesterday. I should get going. It’s going to be past dark by the time I get home as it is.

“Hey, I actually really want to see this. I think there’s a show in about an hour. Want to go check it out?” Grace asks. That’s an hour until the movie starts, two hours for the movie, and then an hour to get home and get settled. That’s four hours past dark, and it’s been a non-stop day.

“I don’t know Grace. It’ll be real late by the time I get home and I’m really tired.” Grace stops the video.

“Yeah, okay, I get it.” She says.

“We’ll go some other time.” I tell her. She nods again, but doesn’t open her mouth.

“When will I see you again?” She asks. I want to tell her tomorrow, but I’m going to need a day to relax before work, and then there was the next letter. There was no telling what Sarah was going to ask me to do in it. I couldn’t make plans before then.

“I don’t know.” She nodded again.

“Yeah sure, okay.” She says. No we’re just sitting around looking at a phone. It’s definitely time to leave.

“So, I’m going to head out. See you around?” She shrugs.

“I’m not so sure. I leave for college at the end of the summer.” That’s only two months away, and there were a lot of letters between now and then.

“Well, bye.” I say. Grace doesn’t respond.

I hadn’t done anything wrong. I tell myself when I get home. My daughter needed me to be ready for whatever she could throw at me. I needed to focus on her first, and then I could make some time for family. It wasn’t like Grace was going to drop off the face of the planet when she went to college. She would still have an internet connection and a phone. We would still keep up.

‘Like you’ve been keeping up the last six months?’ A little voice in my head points out. I can’t think of a response to that. Unlike Friday, Sunday is very long, and I replay the talk with my younger sister in my head many times.

When I walk up the stairs Monday to get Sarah’s next letter, I brace myself.

06/09/2014

Later, you’ll make this right. Now’s not the time to beat yourself up about it.” I breathe a sigh of relief. I still feel guilty, but I’m relieved Sarah isn’t holding it against me. “Now it’s time to put your skills to the test. You’ve been learning dancing, now you get to see if you can impress a girl you’re not related to with them. There’s a dance hall listed below that has girls your own age, go there, and put your training into action. I want you to stay there the whole night and make sure you have this skill nailed down.” It’s one of the shortest letters she writes me that still provides useful instruction.

I check their website and note that their next dance is the 11th . I stare at the screen, something is off about this one. I already know how to dance. I spent all of Saturday dancing with my younger sister to be sure. It’s too easy. I wanted to be harder, not only because I didn’t think Sarah would give me something to do that was easy, but because I wanted to make up for messing things up with Grace. I felt if I did something difficult that I would restore myself in my daughter’s eyes, and soothe my aching conscious at the same time.

There was something fishy going on here.

The night of the dance comes, and I head down to the hall in semi-formal clothes. The entrance fee is minimal, and I walk into the hall to take a look around. It’s the size of a basketball court, and it’s filled with young couples swirling around. Someone took my mental vision of what dancing should be and brought it to life.

I take a closer look at the couples dancing and see that just as the letter says these dancers are my own age, and not only that, they seem to be the crème of the crop in terms of appearance.

So that’s the catch. That’s why she told me to stay the whole night. This wasn’t about dancing. This was about loyalty. She had given me an in shape healthy body, taught me a rare skill that is rather attractive, and dropped me in the middle of a giant group of girls who wanted me to use this skill on them, but I’m not allowed to try and start something with any of them. My daughter had become my own personal devil.

I walk up to a gentlemen standing to one side and observing the dance.

“Excuse me.” I say. “How long does this dance last? The website didn’t say.”

“Four hours.” He tells me. “Don’t worry; they make sure everybody dances the pretty much the whole time. As soon as this song is done we’ll get into the mix. You get your money’s worth.”

“Great, thanks.” I say. Four hours, and I would be dancing with pretty girls the whole time. Fan. Tastic.

It occurs to me my daughter could very easily be one of the girls dancing. She could use a fake name and I’d never know. Not that it should matter. She seemed to know everything anyway. Still, I would have to be extra careful to be a model gentlemen and not pursue any lady.

I think my brain somehow broadcasted this thought to the women present, and they took it as a challenge. The entire night women are impressed by my dancing skills and try to lay claim to me for repeated dances. I politely decline, not wanting to spend too much time to any girl lest I become attached, and bounce around to different partners, all of whom are amazed at my dancing prowess. Evidently I’m one of the few men present that it took it upon themselves to actually learn how to dance before going to a dance hall.

I consider dancing badly to avoid unwanted attention, but I just know Sarah is going to hold that against me somehow, so I grit my teeth and dip, spin, toss, and twirl girls for all four hours until the last song is over. I hastily make my way to the exit, staring at the floor as I go to avoid any possible eye contact.

Five numbers. Even with all the rush and hurry of dancing, five separate girls give me their numbers. I walk up to the attic and lay them down in front of the chest like some kind of sacrificial offering.

I had wanted some sort of difficult task to prove to myself and to Sarah I was still dad material. I had got my money’s worth. There were five pretty girls out there waiting for me to call them, and instead of spending the evening chatting with one or more of them, I curl up into my sleeping bag, and try to convince myself that I had merely imagined them giving me their numbers.

The next day I take out my pent up frustration on my job, and once again have a most productive day. I storm into the attic after work, brush aside the numbers, and open the chest. I extract the letter and am amazed at its length. It’s certainly the longest letter to date by a large margin.

06/12/2014

Thank you daddy. I know how hard it was waiting for that one girl to call you, and now you had to restrain yourself from calling five. Thank you. I want you to know I wasn’t being mean. This had a purpose.” I had thought the purpose was to be mean. “You see, you’re about halfway to being ready for mom. You now have a healthy body, and a healthy social with fun hobbies. You have two more things to fix before meeting mom, and the first of those two things, is how to get a girl.” As I had done so many times before, I put the letter down. I was going to learn how to talk to girls, from my daughter, a girl whom I was supposed to eventually teach about boys. I couldn’t decide if I should feel emasculated or embarrassed. I decided to feel both.

Oh stop it. It won’t be that bad. I know what I’m doing.” That was hardly the problem. “So you see you had to learn to restrain yourself when it came to girls. You’re about to learn how to get a number. You needed to learn some restraint not to call them, and yesterday was a perfect time. You felt the need to prove yourself, so now you have, and now that we both know you won’t call a girl, I teach you how to get a number.” This was not a skill I ever thought I would put effort into learning.

I always thought that when you met the right person things just worked. Like in books or movies, if you really were compatible with each other then you shouldn’t need a bunch of tricks. “Because you know books and movies do such a good job of representing how things work in real life. That’s why we go to movies, to see how things work in real life.” She had a point, but still, I wasn’t going to be one of those guys who took advantage of girls, and I would’ve thought a girl would understand that. Love should be enough.

So love means never making an effort?” That’s not what I had thought, and did she have a mind reading device? Even if she could travel back in time, how could she possibly know what went on inside my head this well? “You’re an engineer. You believe in hard solid facts. Believe this, just going with the flow and letting your personalities mesh ends with you divorcing mom. Clearly, your way of doing things is wrong. Now, I’m not saying this is the only way, and that other people need to learn how to do this. I am saying if you don’t learn this, you might as well burn the rest of the letters because it won’t fix things.” Trust, so much trust, I should be a master at that fall backwards into somebody’s arm drill they did at team building events.

I know I ask a lot of you dad, and I know this is going to get weird, and I want you to know it’s because I know you can take it. I know you are a strong man who can handle this, and I wouldn’t ask it of you if I knew you couldn’t do it. You can do this dad.” She always knows just the right words to say to me.

Now, I’m going to get started. I’ll talk about this more in future letters. This is going to take a while to master, and I’ll feed you knowledge as you need it. I want you to just focus on what I’m going to say here. There’s a lot to this and I don’t want you to get overwhelmed.” She doesn’t want me to get overwhelmed, it’s a little late for that. I was very far down the rabbit hole at this point.

So, let’s start from the beginning. You walk into somewhere, let’s say a coffee shop. You see a girl sitting down at a table and you want to get her on a date, that’s the goal. You’ve never seen her before in your life. You didn’t know you were going to run into a girl here, what’s the first thing you say? I want you to think about it first before I give you the answer.” It was a silly question. Normal people said hi when they wanted to start a conversation. “Okay, you’ve said hi. She says hi back. She is wondering who this random person is whose talking to her and you have not made any positive impression on her. Now what?” That was a pretty rough assessment. Well, I guess I’d ask her what she’s drinking. “She tells you it’s hot chocolate and wonders why you’re asking about her drink. She is now wondering when you’re going to leave and the battle is lost. Dad, if that kind of thing, everyone would have game.” Just once, I wanted her to be wrong, like dead wrong about something.

I’m not being mean to you dad. I’m just showing you that there’s a better way to do this. Girls have really high expectations. She wants you to be funny, smart, confident, create a conversation that has a charge and romantic bent while still maintaining a comfortable conversational atmosphere that makes her feel safe around you. Also she thinks this should all just ‘come naturally’ so if she thinks you’re doing something you’ve been taught she’s going to bolt.” That didn’t seem fair. All those girls last night had handed out numbers without too much trouble. I shouldn’t have difficulty doing that again.

Dad, the ugliest, creepiest, and foulest smelling man in the world can get girls at his own rock concert. You can get a girl at a dance, great. What are you going to do once you’re off the dance floor? Look dad, you can debate this more with yourself later. Right now, you need to read what I’m telling you, and trust me that you need to know this stuff for mom. Sure you two will get together without this, but you need to put magic into the relationship, and knowing this stuff is the key to learning that magic. It’s a bridge into a beautiful. You may not like the way the bridge looks, but it’s going to take you where you want to go.” I resigned myself. She had me beat. I would think on this later and see if I could find some hole in her logic, but for now, she had won.

Good, now we’re going to talk about what you’re going to say to her, and how you’re going to build up to a kiss, because the road to the first kiss starts when you say hi.” I was barely halfway through the letter. This was going to be a long read.

I don’t know how my daughter knew all this, but her insight into this matter was extensive. She explained that there are several ways to start a conversation with a girl. There are practiced lines that you can use anywhere like ‘Hey, did you study interior design? That’s funny because as soon as I saw you the whole room became beautiful.’ These were not very effective, but they required the smallest amount of effort, and therefore the smallest amount of courage. She recommended using these only as an exercise for getting over any fear of talking to girls that I still had.

After practiced lines there were compliments. You had to pay the compliment in a certain way. Girls put a lot of effort into their appearance, my daughter told me, so compliment on something she’s done. Jewelry was ideal. Positive feedback about her dress or skirt was good. Hair styling was okay, and you could resort to stuff like fingernails if you had to. I thought it was creepy to start calling a girl pretty from the get go, but my daughter informed me that this did in fact work. They weren’t the best option, but they were a good back up.

Then there was the more effective method that she recommended, commenting on the situation. If you are in the same environment as someone it makes sense for you to comment on that environment. If you’re in a sandwhich shop it’s perfectly natural to ask what someone’s favorite sandwhich is. It’s the hardest to do because you have to make it specific to the situation. The more specific the better it would work. Instead of asking about her favorite sandwich, it would be better to point out that all of the in house specialty sandwiches would probably give a farm animal PTSD from all the meat and cheese on them. The less generic, the more she’ll like it.

That portion of the letter I understand. The next portion is far more….unorthodox. It starts with a question. “How do you go from never having touched someone before in your life, to kissing them?” It was a difficult question. I thought the answer was a mixture of blink luck and large amounts of courage. My daughter informed me this was not the case, and then proceeded to outline a very detailed method for progressing from no contact to kiss.

She said it was all about getting her more and more comfortable with you touching her. You started with the upper arm. It was surprisingly the least personal part of the human body. You would tap her on the upper arm, and point something out. You could do this a few more times, letting your touch linger a bit more each time. Then you went to the shoulders and the hands. Surprisingly she recommended playing a thumb war as a good way to get her comfortable with you holding her hands.

After she discusses the hands she ends the lesson. “So, that’s the easy part. You now know what you’re going to say, and how you’re going to start getting comfortable with physical contact. Next letter we’ll discuss a bit more about having a conversation, for now, here’s your mission.” I braced myself. “You’re going to practice using this stuff until the next letter, but first, there’s the problem of your shyness. On the back of this letter I’ve written ten of the cheesiest pick up lines I know of. You have to use all of them on girls before you can progress. One last thing before you flip it though. Remember, none of these girls will be my mom, but they will be somebody’s mom. Treat them with respect, and leave them with a smile on their face. You are here to learn, don’t do it at other people’s expense.” I flip the letter over.

Hey, can I take your picture so I can prove to all my friends that angels exist? This one doesn’t count unless you get the photo.”

“Are you religious? Because you’re the answer to all my prayers.”

“Introduce yourself and ask her what her name is, after she tells you say it followed by your last name.”

“Hey do you have a band aid? Because I just scraped my knee falling for you.”

“Come on give it back, give it back(what?) my heart.”

“You already know the interior decorator line.”

“Do you know what my shirt is made of? Boyfriend material.”

“Hey, didn’t we take a class together? That’s weird, because I could’ve sworn we had chemistry.”

“You’re so beautiful that you made me forget my pick up line.”

“Now for the kicker dad, if you can ask this then you will have truly conquered any fear of talking to girls. After you use all nine other lines, look for a girl with her phone on it. Walk up to her and ask for it to call someone. When she gives it to you, her mom, and tell her that you’ve just met her daughter and want her to know that she’s one of the most beautiful girls you’ve ever seen. You have one week dad.”

Thanks for reading letters to my father part 3! Part four is going to take a little longer, and should be out in about four days. Once again, thank you guys for all of the fantastic messages. I’ve read every one of them and they really do mean a lot to me. Consider this update a thank you.

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Letters to my father part 2

Making things burn, my daughter was certainly a complicated individual. I reflected. She was protective of my talking to other women, stern with enforcing my faithfulness to my diet, playful in her mastery of time travel. She demonstrated high emotional intelligence in her perceptiveness of me, and very supportive of my successes, and understanding of my failures. Now I could add mildly psychotic to the list.

Make things burn? She was once again being intentionally vague to maximize the affect it had on me. What could that mean? She had been keeping to literal definitions, so I assumed actual flames were going to be involved. I tended to avoid fire. Fire was dangerous. I paid good money in my taxes so that well trained men could come and destroy fires within minutes of pressing a few buttons on a phone. I had a fire extinguisher too, just in case they didn’t get here quick enough.

I would have to wait over a month to find out, which seemed cruel to me. She was intentionally leading me on to mess with my head. Whenever I went out for a walk or job, or even just some light callisthenic work I thought of her. At my job I had formulas and paperwork to fill my one track mind, but out in the open air, my mind was free to wander, and it always wandered to her. Every time I weighed myself, and saw another pound drop, or I added another mile onto my jogging route, I said a quiet thank you to her. It was all easy knowing that somehow, she knew I was doing it. I never saw her, and I still couldn’t know for certain she was personally watching me, but I knew somewhere, some-when, she was proud of me.

Time travel was also a frequent topic of mental discussion. It had occurred to me that it was possible she hadn’t come back by herself at all. I didn’t see her, and while there certainly explanations for that, the most obvious was that she simply wasn’t here. She could have sent back some kind of tiny remote control robots that looked like flies, or perhaps she had come back, planted a number of devices, and then left.

As far as I could tell she hadn’t physically done anything besides writing the letters and putting them in a box in the attic, but she didn’t necessarily have to come back for that. There could be portals or something that just dropped things. Like a tele-porter, but one that worked on times in addition to places. She could’ve used that same tele-porter to plant the bugs that she watched me with. Those bugs could then relay the messages forward in time and she could use the information to write the letters and send those back.

Wait, would she have to send them back multiple times then? Because these letters seemed to know not only what I was going to do, but how the changes would affect me. Did she need to plant the bugs multiple times? Or did the transmission from the bugs change whenever she sent a letter. If so, did she send all of the letters all at once? Or had she sent them one at a time, observed the change, and then written the next letter accordingly? Or could all of this just be total blind luck on her part?

My head was starting to hurt from thinking about the fourth dimension. I resolved my internal argument by going to a hardware store and buying a metal detector. If she was using some devices to watch me, there had to be some in the attic, and they probably had metal.

On June fifteenth I grabbed my new metal detecting toy and ventured into the attic. I took a good look at things as I first entered, making careful not of how everything lay. I tried to form a mental picture, so that if anything changed I would know. Then I realized I lived in the 21st century, and took a couple pictures with my phone.

Shaking my head at myself I then brought out my metal detector and started to go through the attic. There were a lot of nails, so my plan did not work out too well because the detector was basically always beeping. Disappointed at my failed attempt to foil my daughter I switch off the useless hunk of junk and open the chest. I rifle through it and pick out the sixth letter

05/15/2014A

“Lol dad, did you really think I’d let a metal detector spoil my fun?” The little stinker sure was proud of herself. “I’m insulted. It’s futile anyway. The only way you’re going to find me is if you do what’s written in these letters. They’re my trail of be crumbs.” She was right, but that wasn’t going to stop me from trying. “I know this isn’t going to be the last time we do this little dance, and honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just wanted to let you know I’m going to win :P.” She actually wrote the emoticon. I brush the ink with a finger and smile. I think her playful side is my favorite.

“Alright, enough chit chat, I know you’ve been wondering what my cryptic message from last time meant. It’s pretty straight forward actually. You’re going to learn how to camp, and that means starting fires.” I moaned. Man had invented the mattress for a reason. I hadn’t spent a night outside in my life.

“Now don’t get all whiny on me. You’re a big boy. You can handle a little nature, and you’ve got a little extra money from all that bad food you’re not eating, so you can afford to spend a little money on camping gear.” She wrote a list of equipment that included a sleeping bag, skewers, a tent, a sleeping pad, a backpack, a flint and steel, and hot dogs. She had even included a pricing list with brand names and models, probably just to show off. “Well, what are you waiting for dad? You’re sleeping outside tonight, and you’re not going to use your kitchen. You better leave for the store. Get going! Oh, and youtube how to start a fire.” This was making things burn? I felt kind of gyped. Maybe that second letter had something more to do with making things burn.

I resolved to read the second letter after I had made my dinner. I checked my watch. I had better get moving, I think the sun set in about two hours, and I wanted some daylight to work with. I could camp out in my miniscule backyard, but I didn’t have any flashlights. So I had to move quick.

I did the highly irresponsible thing and watched fire starting videos at redlights and stop signs, then googled tent information as I walked through the outdoors store picking up equipment. The clerk thought I was rather rude for not making eye contact, but I was playing with my daughter. She wasn’t physically there, but just like when I exercised, it felt like she was.

In under an hour I’m sitting my backyard with a bundle of stuff I’ve never used before, and a small pile of twigs and pine needles. I took a few extra minutes to clear a patch of ground and form a ring of stones for a fire pit, and I was ready to go.

Setting up the wood and pine needles was easy. I formed a small teepee of twigs, then a larger teepee around that, and a larger one around that. I had other wood next to my makeshift fire pit that I would throw on when the fire got going. I left an opening in the three teepees so I could put my nest in the middle once I got a little flame going.

Now for the hard part, this was the test. Everything else was trivial. I knew if I just threw wood onto the fire it would be fine, and I was positive I could setup the tent and cook a meal. The trick was I needed either light or heat to do all those things. That meant fire, which meant getting a spark. It suddenly made sense why my daughter said this was about making things burn, once you had fire, the rest wasn’t hard at all.

Sarah had thrown down a gauntlet, and I was going to beat her challenge with flying colors. With a sense of determination I pulled out my flint and steel. It looked like a key chain. Only instead of multiple keys there was just one key, and a stick of metal. I was supposed to scrape the key along the metal rod, and that would make sparks.

It seemed simple enough. I spent the first ten minutes trying different angles, speed, and scraping different parts of the rod until I got my first spark. Great, now I just needed to land that spark on the nest and it would all go up in flames right? Sparks were not as hot as I thought they were, it took another forty minutes until I saw some smoke come out of my little bundle of pine needles and twigs.

People used to do this every night for dinner? I hadn’t even started the fire, and I would have to wait another ten or twenty minutes for it to get hot enough to cook with. Finally, after throwing away the fire starter in frustration twice, and having to go and find it in the dark, because the sun was rapidly setting, I was not as good at estimating sun down as I thought it was, I finally got a little flame. Then in my subsequent leap of joy I stamped the fire out and spent another ten minutes getting it going again.

Finally, after almost an hour of striking a metal rod with a key I created a decent fireball that I could hold in my hand. I made sure not to celebrate until I had placed it in the middle of my teepee configuration, and the wood started to catch fire.

Then I leaned my head back and gave a whoop of joy. I had created fire! I was all that was man! I could keep this in the trunk of my car and always be able to cook meat or scare off wild animals or whatever else you did with fire. To start, I was going to cook myself a well-deserved meal. Then I was going to go read the little stinkers next letter and see if I could manage to gloat somehow.

The hotdogs were plain, without buns, and I managed to either burn, or undercook every single one, but they tasted like victory to me.

After wolving down several badly cooked hot dogs I strode inside to get the letter. I took it out of the box and went back outside. I was going to read this letter next to my very own, self-made fire. Next to the crackling flames I opened the seventh letter.

05/15/2014B

Daddy, did you really think your daughter was going to leave you hanging with some old school tech?” It had been underwhelming at first, but the more I had pursued the cave man fire making thing the more I had gotten into it. There really was something about this making something from scratch with your own two hands. I was proud of my little fire. “Don’t get me wrong. I love your little fire.” I glanced up briefly to see if she was watching, but I was beginning to get used to her little tricks, and I quickly returned to her letter. “And I love how you still look when I say things like that, but I had some more….. Interesting options for you.” What followed was a how to guide for making several substances which I was quite sure were illegal. My eyes bulged when I saw that they could all be manufactured with rudimentary household items that basically everyone has access to. “Now the next time you get to start a fire, it’ll be a lot quicker, and a lot more interesting. I’d recommend staying away from the more explosive list.” No kidding, some of this stuff just burned, but some of it looked like it could take down my house with just a pound or two.

How did she know all this? I hoped it was because my little girl was either a chemical engineer, or an avid internet server, and not because she was part of some resistance band that was trying to overthrow our robot overlords with makeshift weapons and bombs.

Don’t worry about how I know all this, but do worry how you’re going to spend the night our here daddy, because until you read my next letter, you’re sleeping outside. K, got to go, love you! PS- No sleeping pad.”

That’s it? No explanation? I was beginning to think there really was no reason for her ridiculousness. Or perhaps fighting our robot overlords really had taken over and I would have to spend a lot of nights outside under the stars.

I fold up the letter, and grab my sleeping pad. It’s just an extra cushion. The sleeping bag should be sufficient for one night on the ground. After returning both to their appropriate places I pitch my tent. It’s not difficult. They have instructions, and I think I’d have to return my master’s degree if I can’t pitch a simple tent. The sun has already set, so I make sure my phone has enough to charge to last another day or two, set an alarm, and coil up in my sleeping bag.

Now in my head, at this point I figured I should be drifting off to sleep. I did not figure what it would feel like to sleep on the ground without a pad. It shouldn’t have been that bad, but it felt sleeping on a tile floor that someone had spilled a bunch of small rocks on. I couldn’t believe how sensitive I was to the things! Every time I closed my eyes I could instantly picture where every single stone was boring into my body. Whether it was the size of a thumbnail, or a whole fist, it all felt horrible. I don’t know how people managed this back in the day. Did they just not have nerves on their backsides?

I lay my head down at about nine, but I don’t fall asleep until closer to 11:30. I just toss and turn, while fantasizing wildly about laying down on a nice smooth, rock free mattress.

When I finally do fall asleep I have dreams about being prodded and tossed about by large rock shape monsters. I’ve never been so relieved to hear an alarm go off in my life. I thank every luck star I have on the drive to work that I’m not sleeping on the ground right now. The fire starting was a cake walk next to sleeping on the ground.

Then a funny thing happened when I got to my cubicle at work. I find myself sitting at my desk, and I find my chair actually comfortable. My desk has some sort of plastic economical chair that came from some discount office warehouse. They were curved in a way that no one who had even heard of basic human anatomy would possibly curve a chair. These kinds of chairs were designed to keep workers like myself uncomfortable so we wouldn’t get sleepy. For all that, it was way softer than hard mother earth, and it didn’t have a single rock in it. I laid back and actually relaxed in the thing. I was pretty sure I could take a nap in it.

“I swear they showed the blind neanderthal that designed these things a sea slug when he asked what a human looked like.” One of my coworkers three cubes down declares. I smile. Yesterday I would’ve agree with him. Yesterday I would’ve been frowning and cursing modern industrial engineering. Yesterday I hadn’t spent a night on the ground. Today I had, and today, instead of griping, I was smiling. I got more work done by lunch time that day than I typically got in an entire day.

When I get home that night I see my camping setup outback. I hadn’t had time to take it down this morning. Before I go on my walk I go out and inspect the tent. I had zipped it up, so no wild animals had gotten inside. I lay down in my sleeping bag to see if it’s as uncomfortable as I remember.

It’s bad. It still feels like some bizarre take on Chinese water torture, but it’s not as bad as last time. I get up and go for a jog.

For the next two weeks between letters I sleep on the ground every night, and make a fire to cook my food. I become a master of lean-tos, scout fires, I even make a fire while it’s raining once. I had to use one of the illegal substances my daughter suggested, but it still counts.

While trying out a new kind of fire configuration that I think will maximize the amount of light I get from the flames, I think about the next letter. So far almost all of the letters have been challenging things. This next one probably will be too. If I get a sneak peak of it, that could give me an edge in completing the next ask. I could do some prep work, buy a few things, research a few things. If this was really about self-improvement then surely knowing what I was going to get into should help the process along.

The problem is of course that she’ll know. Of that I have no doubt. She’s already predicted every step I’m going to take before I take it, but then again I’ve been making it easy on her. I always opened the letters on the day she wanted me too. What if that was part of it. If I opened one too early would that let me get around this temporal sorcery?

I think of the letter she sent me when I almost broke my diet. This should be a girl I trust, and shouldn’t have to look at the letter. Then again, she’s playful and witty too, and I bet she loved matching wits with a worthy opponent. Wouldn’t she be thrilled if I could outsmart her? And wouldn’t she be disappointed if I didn’t try?

That was it, I should take a look at the letters. It’d be fun. As much as she protested me trying to figure her out, I could tell that was part of the fun for her. Let’s see what the little sprite had in store for me this time. I went into the attic and took out the seventh letter

05/23/2014, wait, that wasn’t right. The date on the cover was a week from today. The date in the corner should match.

I’m sure you expected a witty response here, but the truth is I’m disappointed.” So much for a fun little game with my daughter. She can’t be disappointed. I’m the parent. I was the one who was supposed to be disappointed. “Look at yourself dad, haven’t I earned your trust? You’ve lost twenty pounds, gotten into triathlon shape, and started becoming a man’s man. Why did you open this letter?” That wasn’t fair. She didn’t get to ask why. She knew why, didn’t she. “There are many parts of your life I’ve figured out, but why you haven’t trusted me I’ve not looked into, because I don’t want to know. I don’t know what made you break my request and open this early, but I hope it was worth it.”

I crumbled the edges of the letter in my hands, forcibly preventing myself from doing more.“And before you think this is some needless guilt trip, let me tell you it’s not father. Your next letter is going to require a lot of strength to accomplish, and you’re still too heavy and not strong enough for it.” This letter was really laying the hurt on. “I didn’t want you to open it until a week from now because you need one more week of strength and weight loss. I didn’t want to have to call you weak or overweight unless I absolutely had to, and if you had just waited I wouldn’t have had to. More importantly than that, the next letter is going to require a lot of trust, and you breech of that trust just now is going to make it harder. I still love you daddy, you’ll hear from me in another week.”

There are a number of things in life that only take a second or two to do, but the negative repercussions last for days or weeks. As soon as I had read that first sentence I knew that I had made such a mistake. She was right, I shouldn’t have tested her. Now I would spend the next week hoping that I was ready to take the next step. I wasn’t even halfway yet. I couldn’t mess this up now.

To add insult to injury for the next week I have to dodge texts and phone calls from my parents. There are some big events coming up, graduation ceremonies or something, and I had to focus on the tasks at hand. I redoubled my efforts to become who my daughter needed me to be. I redo my diet to make sure it is completely optimized for weight loss and muscle gain. I add distance to my runs, and start doing my calisthenics with weights. I’m not going to disappoint her again.

I climb the steps to the ladder with purpose this time. I will redeem myself this time. I open the chest and extract the eighth letter.

05/30/2014

I want you to know, I don’t blame you for this last week. You’ve had a lot on your mind, and it wasn’t your fault.” What, what was she talking about? I really didn’t want this to be another downer letter. “But that’s not what this letter is about, this letter is about letting go, and also becoming a mountain man.” So back country backpacking? That seemed the next logical step. You needed to be in good shape to do it, and it was basically the next difficulty level above just regular camping.

It’s not back country back packing. That would be cool, and we should totally do that when I grow up! But for right now you’re going to learn something less time consuming, but much more dangerous. Father, you are going to embrace your inner action hero, and go jumping off of a mountain into thin air, with nothing but a solid rope, sturdy knots, and an iron grip to prevent you from falling to your death. Father, you’re going to learn solo rock climbing.” What followed was a highly detailed set of instructions on how to setup a rock climbing system, and rappel down by yourself. With so many of her other letters she had told me to look things up or figure things out, with this letter she spelled everything out herself. She even revealed a hidden compartment in the chest that contained pictures, diagrams, and specifications for the ropes. I felt foolish for scouring this attic for clues, even getting a metal detector, but I hadn’t thought to check the chest for clues. She concluded the letter with the following message.

Dad, up until now you haven’t really had to trust me. You’ve sacrificed for me. I don’t want to belittle that. I know that a lot of what I have asked has been hard, but this is the first time, and I promise the only time, where you’re really going to directly put your own life in my hands. I wrote out exactly what I wanted you to do myself, because I want you to trust me.” Did I not trust her when she was an adult? Was that why she was doing this? Or did I not trust my wife. I shuddered to think what I had done that would require me to break this personality fault in such a drastic way.

I will say it again. I promise never to ask this of you again, but I am going to ask it this one time. I’ve made sure that these instructions will keep you safe. I’ve checked, double checked, and used them myself. They will make sure you don’t get hurt. Just think of me dad, and make a leap of faith.”

I go over the instructions, and then go over the instructions again. Then I go over them a third time, and reread the last time sentence in the letter ‘Just think of me dad, and make a leap of faith’. There would be no going back from this one. I had no experience in with this sort of thing. As far I knew, these could be instructions for very fancy shoe lace tying.

I think of all she’s done for me. Every single step has made me a better, stronger, more confident person. I like who she’s shaping me into, and she has guided my footsteps deftly, knowing every step and miss step I would take. It was time to figure out just how far this could go.

There are no eager and rapid internet searches this time as I purchase the necessary equipment. Looking up more information would betray her trust again. She didn’t need to write it for me to know. I’ve broken her trust once, I would redeem myself.

Once I’ve bought and assembled all the gear, and there is a good bit of it, I start up my nightly camp fire and prepare for bed. There isn’t enough daylight to do what she is asking. So I go to bed that night dreaming of great heights, and great falls.

She wrote me the letter on a Friday, so I have the whole weekend to do what she asks. On one of the extra pieces of paper she had stowed away in the secret compartments she included a map. I had brought all the hidden papers with me, and now consulted the map. I checked the coordinates with the GPS on my phone, and found the location it led to was not far from here, only a few miles drive. Who knew I had rock climbing locations so nearby.

I’m not thinking of time travel or what the next letter contains as I load up my car with my new thrill seeking toys, as well as a bunch of energy bars and water. The system doesn’t look like it will take more than an hour to set up, even with all the knots I was going to have to learn. But I want to take a long time to make sure I was going to get it right.

She wasn’t joking about taking my life in her hands. I didn’t have a second source of information to check her facts against, and I didn’t bring any friends or hire some mountain climbing professional to check my work. I was going to live or die by her hand.

On the drive out I don’t turn on the radio or play an audiobook on my phone. I just watch the terrain. On the walk up to the cliff, as I make my way through the forest, there aren’t any people, which is fine, because right then the silence is fitting. I arrive at the top of the cliff and drop my gear a few dozen feet from the edge. I want to take a look before I start setting up.

The edge of the cliff is a very sharp looking thing. About where I’m standing the dirt and roots of the forest give way to solid rock, and about twenty feet in front of me the ground just stops, like it was cut off with a knife. As I approach it I appreciate how final a cliff edge looks. It feels like an end. I crouch with my toes almost sticking into open air, and peer over the edge.

Far, it looks far, but my science oriented brain won’t be happy with such an in exact measurement. I pick up a rock and gently toss it over the side. One one thousand, two one thousand, thunk. It only takes two seconds to hit the bottom. That might not have sounded too bad if I didn’t know that meant the cliff was a little over 60 feet high. A fall from this height was a one way trip.

This isn’t helping, I’m only going to psyche myself out if I stay here, so I remove the Sarah’s instructions from my pocket and get to work. It’s slow going at first, there are only a couple of knots you need to know, but each requires several tries to get write, and there’s a lot of measuring and re-measuring. I have to untie and retie one specific knot 5 times before the system looks right. It’s not a terribly elegant looking thing, but it works. I tugged on every single knot and rope several times as hard as I could to make sure it works. As far as I could tell this thing was going to support my body weight.                 Then again, when I was thirty feet down the cliff I would be applying a lot more torque due to the distance and stretch factor in the rope, not to mention the possibility of falling a few feet and generating any more force. I wish I had some tools form the lab to test the strength of this rope.

I take a few paces back and look at the system, hoping its appearance will somehow make what I’m about do easier. I’m going to tie myself into the system, take a piece of the rope in my hand, along with a small little metal device that looks like it could open bottles, and jump.

Nope, looking at it from a few feet away didn’t help one iota. I’m going to need some help with this one. I really wish Sarah was here now. I didn’t know why she was insisting on keeping this distance between us. Couldn’t she say what she needed to say in person? If she checked over the ropes herself it would make what I was doing easier, and it would still be trusting her.

Unfortunately, not amount of wishing would conjure up my daughter. I take out the support she did give, me the most recent letter she had wrote, and read it again, focusing once more on that last line. ‘Just think of me dad, and take a leap of faith’.

I regret that I don’t have a picture of her to think of her with, or even a picture of her mom to try and guess what she looks like I mean she’s in the future so if I was just thinking of someone who wasn’t around I might as well just think of a generic sonogram or somebody’s grandmother. Those would probably be as accurate.

I push that unhelpful thought of my mind. Think of her, think of the good. Think of her support, think of her words. I already hear a voice in my head when I read her words. I don’t know if there’s any way it could possibly be hers, but I think of it anyway. I look at the letter in my hand and think of her words. I can hear her voice clearly say ‘think of me dad, and take a leap of faith’.

I focus on those words as I tie myself in. I make it a montra. I force all thought from my head except those ten words. ‘think of me dad, and take a leap of faith’. I walk to the edge of the cliff, now mouthing the words to myself. ‘think of me dad, and take a leap of faith’. I grip the rope firmly in my hand, and jump.

I fall for about a quarter of a second, and then I grab the rope hard, stopping myself after only a few feet of free fall. A few feet is enough though. ‘Think of me dad and take a leap of faith’, I say without thinking about it. I say it again to comfort myself. I did it! Hear I am, sixty feet of the ground, and only a firm grip is keeping from me giving the ground a bear hug at nearly highway speeds.

I no longer feel an ounce of guilt for opening that letter early. “I love you sarah!” I shout, hoping somewhere nearby she hears me. A few jovial moments later I reach the bottom and look up to the top of the cliff. I punch the sky in elation. Best father daughter bonding experience ever.

I start doing a ridiculous rhythm less dance at the bottom of the cliff when I think back on the first letter with today’s date on it.

Hang on a minute, she said the reason she didn’t want me to do this is because it required strength, and while the gear wasn’t pleasant to haul out all this way it certainly wasn’t anything I couldn’t have managed a week ago, and while rapelling was fine, I don’t think I could manage climbing back up by myself. She hadn’t explained how to do that and I certainly couldn’t fathom how it was done.

“Are you going to climb that route friend?” A male voice behind me asks. I turn around and see another mountain climber with the same gear I have standing behind me. “My crew is going to be here in an hour but I’d love to climb with you if you’re up for it.” Sarah thought of everything.

The next week passes quickly and well. I’m beginning to revel in this life my daughter has set up for me. I have a couple hobbies, a healthy body, and I’m starting to make friends to do outdoors trips on. It’s a good time, and while I miss my daughter, I feel good about our odd relationship, and when I take out her next letter it is with a sense of hope.

06/05/2014

Hey dad, thank you for this last week. It’s been good. You’ve done a lot of difficult things, and will still do a lot of difficult things, so I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for a good week.” It was like she had experienced it with me. “This next request is going to be a little interesting. You’ve got some great hobbies, and a healthy lifestyle, now we need to learn you a basic skill of courtship, ballroom dancing.” Alright! I had always wanted to learn ballroom dancing. This would be an easy one. As much as I appreciated what she did for me in hindsight, a nice easy slow pitch that I could knock out of the park would not go amiss right now.

There’s a catch.” Of course there was. “You’re going to have to teach your younger sister how to dance.” Grace? That wouldn’t be so bad. Grace was a good girl. “I know you haven’t figure out why this is difficult, so I’ll just let that sink in a second. Go on, put the letter down, think it through dad.” She’s got me trained well, I put the letter down without hesitating or questioning it.

Grace is a nice girl. She’s doing alright in school, got some friends, is always friendly when I come over. She’s still in high schools so we haven’t talked in a while. Didn’t she graduate recently?…..Oh, right.

Yup, that’s right dad. You’re neglecting your family. I’m your family too dad, are you going to neglect me?” Of course not, how could she possibly think I would neglect her. I would and have jumped off a cliff for this girl. “I know you’re dedicated to me dad, but you need to start showing the dedication to your family with the family members you have right now. I’m not always going to be a mature inter-time mastermind of personal growth that I am today. You made me who I am dad, and you need to start making your siblings the best that they can be. So here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to go take lessons from a local dance instructor. The number is written on the bottom of this letter. Normally I’d let you figure it out for yourself, but I want you to go to one particular dance instructor. These things require a special touch, and I want you to learn from someone that I’ve personally vetted.” Personally vetted huh? Good to know I was going to be in expert ‘daughter approved’ hands. “One more thing, there are a few words for you on the back of this letter. Don’t look at them until the time is right.”

When eventually she’s all grown up and writing time letters through ancient annals of history we are going to have a talk about not talking mysteriously and saying what you mean. I dutifully fold the letter and stick it in my back pocket after I dial in the number to my phone. Let’s see who this dance instructor was who so impressed my daughter.

“Hello this is Sarah at dance works, how can I help you?”