‘Don’t worry about boys’
Being the agitated, Costanza-esque father of a young daughter, it’s difficult not to observe father-daughter relationships from afar.
Whether it’s between people in the store, people I know or even concocted relationships in film or TV, I find myself watching and listening. I try to find clues as to how to motivate, instigate or obstruct.
My current muse is Eric Taylor, the fictional head football coach of the Dillon Panthers on the now-defunct, critically-acclaimed TV series, Friday Night Lights. He is portrayed marvelously by the ageless Kyle Chandler. Rolling into season 2, he is the often misguided, although thoughtful, father of the 15-year-old Julie, who seamlessly transitions from snobby outsider in the football-engrossed small town to dating the high school quarterback and never wanting to leave.
She flirts with losing her virginity and inflicting minor trespasses against society (skipping school, shoplifting). Taylor and his wife (where has Connie Britton been all my life?) are, if nothing else, a bit inconsistent knowing that Julie is a “good kid” sowing her wild oats.
I think I can learn something from Coach Taylor. I could also probably learn quite a bit from F. Scott Fitzgerald. First, I’d want him to teach me the Charleston. Then he could teach me how to be a rad dad of the Roarin’ Twenties.
Frances Scott “Scottie” Fitzgerald (a girl) was born in 1921 when Fitzy was 25 and he had just published This Side of Paradise. She was the only daughter of Scott and Zelda.
A letter from Fitzy to Scottie was recently brought to light. Written in 1933 when she was 11 and at summer camp, the missive is rambling. Obviously, there was some sort of communiquéthat prompted some of these responses. I often wonder if I will ever communicate with my daughter in such an informal manner like we’re lounging in the drawing room drinking gin cocktails. Often, it feels that he’s talking more about himself than her.
My favorite part of the letter, after he declares he’ll pay the camp bill, is a list of … well, things she should and should not worry about:
Halfwit, I will conclude.
Things to worry about:
Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Worry about. . .
Things not to worry about:
Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions
Fitzy ends the correspondence with a post-script about pet names and a simple: “Love anyhow.”
But, first, the Charleston.
- Mad Dad