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The Middle Ages

A father writes to his too-long-absent adult daughter

When a daughter never calls, never writes, @erskinetimes steps into the void with a letter of his own

Dear Daughter,

We have not seen you for a while now, so I thought we might check in. Did you fall off the edge of the Earth? Were you smothered by one of those award show red carpets you used to work? Your mother worries, you know, and I am just curious. Well, I am more than curious. I feel abandoned.

Apparently you've dumped us for your career.

I can understand that, for you've always had a wonderful work ethic.

In fact, you are so dedicated, so efficient, so headed for big executive posts that friends have suggested paternity tests to locate your actual father. Let me end the suspense: Your real father is out there somewhere. And he is me.

Have you ever noticed the resemblance? We both talk too loud at parties and cry a little when we laugh too much at our own jokes. It is only with a mouthful of food that we ever achieve anything approaching mental clarity. We are both drawn to twinkly saloons and the kind of Formica-countered old dives where they quilt the burritos in tortillas the size of Sacramento.

How you ended up way out there in fancy Santa Monica is beyond me. Eating at one of the clangy restaurants there is like dining in the percussion section of a major orchestra. Only louder.

I went looking for you the other night, in some pretentious place on Main where the pizzas look like abstract art and taste of roofing materials. I sat there marveling at the menu — magnificently arcane and more over-thought than a grad school poem. The $14 glass of Chardonnay was the exact temperature of blood.

"Hello, Domino's? This is an emergency!"

Look, obviously your long absence has flummoxed us. I was never exactly a Fulbright scholar to begin with, so any slight drop in acuity presents a significant concern. If your laptop ever caught the mumps, I am how it would perform.

As we go about our daily routines, your mother and I are distracted — both by your absence and our pride in your career in the after-market ticket biz. The other day, I entered my work password into the microwave, then stood there cursing it for not working. I was so off my game that I actually used that cholesterol-free mayo your mother insists on buying in an effort to drive me from the house.

Listen, a lot has happened since you've been away. Lincoln was shot. Taiwan split from China. We had two more children — a princess, now 23; a boy badger, now 12.

Worst of all, in a recent column, I misspelled the word "tuchis" and now may be banned from using Yiddish in any of my future manifests. I protested to an editor that Yiddish represents almost 80% of worthwhile exclamations. Without Yiddish, I am Taylor Swift.

So there's that.

Meanwhile, the mortgage is lost somewhere in cyberspace, the bank outsourcing it to some service that collects mortgages. They made that very clear, only they haven't told me where to now send the check, so the money sits in the account just laughing at me, daring me to spend it.

So I did.

Yesterday I bought a very clean 2001 Camaro from an older woman who flirted with me about my blue eyes yet insisted only on cash. Off she went with the wad of mortgage money, leaving me with a car the color of Rodney Dangerfield.

Over this, your mother is not happy. She says it is the kind of muscle car driven by ex-cons when they case your house at 2 a.m. In response, I tell her it was the car of my dreams (when I was 18).

So that's where your long absence has left us. Not so bad, though we miss your roaring laughter ... the way your cheeks flush when you eat Thai food. How you always march too hard into the house, like a Scotsman stomping snakes.

There is, in your absence, the lack of a certain irreplaceable gleeful irreverence.

Each evening, your mother now waits by the window the way she did when you used to step off the bus in first grade, your hair full of rubber bands.

Bet that drove you nuts even then, her running out on the porch like you'd just returned from a monthlong journey to the moon.

Look, parents are not easy people.

But should the urge ever hit you, feel free to stop by some time. Our house is your house. Our hearts are yours too.

And your mother is still waiting by the window.

Love, Dad

chris.erskine@latimes.com

twitter: @erskinetimes

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