Your Daughter is a Slut, And Other Stories

There aren’t actually any other stories. Just the one story today. Perhaps there will be more later.

And I believe you will find this story lacks a point. Who asked you?  🙂

This is my dad; I am in the red and my sister is in the brown. I was much cuter in this picture than I am in the story.

Like all mornings, that Saturday in 1980, I didn’t wake to a cell phone. I was sleeping in, on a mattress and box springs piled next a mural that covered one wall of my room: a lush, green jungle path that I frequently wished I could walk into and disappear. I didn’t wake up and check any social media, or return any texts. Our first home computer was still three years away, and it would take months for my father to convince us that we needed it.

I woke, instead, to the sound of his voice, in the front yard, calling me and my sister to come outside. Neither of us were in any particular hurry to obey, as she was seventeen and cared about nothing and I was fourteen and cared most about staying out of her way. She always wore cutoff sweatshirts and running shorts and those dumb three-striped athletic socks on the weekends, hair pulled back in one of those nasty expandable combs that wrap around your head and fasten at your neck and I’m pretty sure cause personality disorders. Mostly I stayed away from her unless it was a weekday and she was giving me a ride to school, a favor I had to earn by French-braiding her hair, and even then she kicked me out half a mile away. But I digress.

Outside, in the sunshine, my father was waiting for us by the sidewalk, with the lawn mower. He could mow a lawn, my father, but his method that morning had clearly been interrupted. He was dressed as Yard Dad: ugly, baggy denim shorts and tube socks, Converse High-tops, and a threadbare white tee that he would take off at some point until he got tired of being mocked by his family and put it back on. As he was preparing for the sacred lawn mowing ritual this fine Saturday morning, he saw it.

Written down my front walk, in white block letters almost three feet tall in a message that spanned thirty feet were the words: “Your Daughtter is a Slut.”

He turned to us and deadpanned, “They left before I could ask them which daughter. Whoever is the slut, clean it up. The non-slut can help.” And went back in the house. Funny guy, my dad.

My sister looked at me the way you look at something gooey that is stuck to the bottom of your shoe. Without a word, she went to get a scrub broom.

I went to get the hose. I knew that message was meant for me.

I was not, of course. I was fourteen years old, eighth grade, and I had done nothing to earn these words that were evidently intended to be seen by low-flying aircraft.

I kissed a boy. And there was some awkward fumbling that only convinced me that I would never be doing that again (spoiler alert: I did). And then I told a friend, because that’s what you do, in eighth grade when you kiss a cute boy.

Then I made her mad – and I don’t even remember how. I only know that this sentence on my sidewalk was the first strike, one that started a ridiculous war that kept us both occupied for the next two years.

We didn’t have social media, obviously. I can’t imagine how it would have looked if we had. Instead, we used all of the resources available. I was already a fledgling writer, so I wrote poems and limericks about her on every stray textbook, desks, bathroom walls. (My insults rhyme, bitches – or are at least structured in verse form.)  She had a friend in every one of my classes – usually a boy, who would sit near me and spit on my papers and hiss endless streams of nearly unintelligible profanity at me until I got up and moved. And then he would follow me. About once a week, her drooling psychopath of a boyfriend would try to goad me into meeting her for the obligatory fight.

Not once did a teacher or parent intervene. It never occurred to me to ask for help. It also never occurred to me to stop launching what can only be called pre-emptive counter-strikes. Unwilling to risk being seen as a coward, I antagonized her every chance I got.

The fact that it didn’t end in a bloody, violent skirmish on 3rd street before a crowd of jeering onlookers is nothing short of miraculous; I believe she simply lost interest. High school and shifting priorities eventually allowed the conflict to self-resolve.

The words on my walk were written in shoe polish. Takes a little elbow grease to remove, but it can be done, at least so that all that remains is an unrecognizable shadow. With me spraying, my sister scrubbing, we had worked backwards up to “daughtter” when my father came back outside. My sister dropped the broom and walked away, no longer even willing to entertain the notion that she should be helping.

He stood there for several minutes, watching. Then he picked up the broom and asked “Anything you want to tell me?”

“Nope.”

“Someone you know did this?”

“Yep.”

“Have you considered you should be more careful of who you choose as friends?”

“Yep.”

“I gotta say – I feel bad for that other girl’s dad.”

That brought me up short. “WHY?”

“Because whatever her other flaws may be, at least my daughter can spell ‘slut’.'”

“What?”

“Cause it looks like his slut can’t spell ‘daughter’, is all. You know that’s wrong, right?  Yeah. I always knew you were smart.”

…and he started scrubbing.

Funny guy, my dad.

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16 Comments

  1. He’s not just funny, your Dad, he’s a fucking legend! Aah the memories of childhood, God’s way of keeping things in perspective when it all looks shitty in the here and now…honestly, would any of us go back given the choice? Not me!

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  2. So, it wasn’t your use-to-be friend who wrote it (or one of her cohorts?) If not, did you ever find out for sure who did – and why? I never had anything like that, but my house was toilet papered on nearly a monthly basis for about a year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, it was her and a group of friends, just because I made her mad. This was the beginning of a very long two years. I never got TP’d I don’t think, although I perpetrated a couple. Horrible to clean up! I do remember those days. Thanks for the read!

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  3. Your dad will reach legendary status with this post. You realize that, right? While sometimes I think it would be nice to return to a simpler time I read things like this and realize that there may not have been such a thing. At almost every age we all have something. Sounds like a rough couple of years but I’m glad you had some support.

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  4. Your Dad rocks, and it really sounded like you were telling a story from my highschool days. Thank you for sharing it I was right there with you from the bullying, a letter stating my “slut” status (when I was still a virgin) and having a cool Dad. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My Dad would be the same way, when I was getting bullied he went to every single house of those boys and they had to apologize to me. He acted like it was no big deal. To me he just gave me the sun, moon, and the stars. ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

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