Tuesday, June 22, 2010


As of today, I am the father of a teenage girl.

Everyone tells me I’d better hold on for the ride.

If there’s anything like karma, things won’t really start heating up for another couple of years; I gave my parents the hardest time between the ages of 15 and 17, so maybe I have a slight grace period ahead.

But girls are different, they say. We shall see.

I recall my own thirteenth birthday pretty well. I wanted to go to Pittsburgh’s hippie neighborhood, Shadyside, and hang out at a pizza place we used to frequent, wearing a sign that said, “Today I’m thirteen.” Cooler heads prevailed and while my friends and I did walk over there (it was Good Friday, so no school), I refrained from broadcasting my new status in print.

That night, I had a birthday party—with girls—the high point of which was playing “Pass the Orange,” with frozen fruit. I got some decent loot, including thirteen whole dollars (crisp, numbered consecutively, in a bank envelope) from my dad, and two albums: Led Zepplin II and Jimi Hendrix “Band of Gypsys,” which Wikipedia tells me had just been released two days earlier.

My grade school was K-8, so during my thirteenth year, as eighth graders, we ruled the place; that attitude carried over to lots of things, making me feel way more grown up than I was—and certainly more adult than I’m ready to stand my own 13 year-old being.

At that age, I rode the bus all over town, and took part in events like the last game played at Forbes Field, where my friends and I gathered up a bunch of souvenirs, including a metal chair from the stadium’s box seats, that collected dust in my family’s basement for years.

I didn’t have a bar mitzvah, but my dad did give me a fountain pen. My kid didn’t get one, but we did buy her a fancy knife.


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