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The Happily Ever After Blues: Elizabeth Smart And Her Daddy

Elizabeth Smart and her daddy, 2011

I sighed the other day when I saw that Elizabeth Smart had gotten married.

You go girl, I thought.

What a day for the young lady who did a stint in Hell, with the Devil himself. Ten years ago, when Smart was snatched from her Salt Lake City bedroom in in the middle of the night, the world watched in horror.

Then, as the weeks/months slid by, all that remained of practical hope was its distant tail-lights slipping over the horizon and disappearing with the long lost kid forever.

She was gone, we figured.

And she ain’t coming back.

And then: how awkward and wrenching and strangely inspiring it was to watch the dad/her dad, Ed Smart, as he stood in the many eyes of the many TV cameras day after day, month after month, pleading with whoever had taken his daughter to return her.

Every lead, he said, is important.

Every tip, he told us, was appreciated.

Yeah right, we figured. What did you do with her, man, we grumbled, with our mouths full of supper, at the evening news.

We knew he had to be in on it. We looked at each other and shrugged. Hey, that’s just the bad reality of these things, it’s how they always play out.

Still, the father never stopped. He seemed to never ever give up believing that somebody, somewhere must have seen something. After a time, it seemed to us as if  he really believed she was out there somewhere, that she was alive and being held captive.

Sooner or later, there would come a break, Ed Smart kept saying. But, it was all kind of hard to watch.

As a father who holds his daughter’s tiny hand at night while we read stories in her bed/ as a dad who hears her voice in the morning and knows that she is who I was waiting around to meet all of my life until now, there is no way I can ever really fathom what sort of electrical storms were living inside of Elizabeth’s dad during the nine months she was gone.

Only now, today, have I even given it half a shot, and that only lasted maybe two minutes before I felt sick.

A lot of people began to doubt Ed Smart’s story.

A lot of eyes turned his way, squinting the squint of the grizzled suspicious old west sheriff. But Ed never let go of that limelight/that chance to talk some more about his Elizabeth, and about finding her and bringing her home.

He talked and talked and talked and talked. At night, out in his yard, he probably stared up at the stars and talked some more.

And in the end, that’s exactly what got her found.

Strolling down a suburban Salt Lake street in the company of her two kidnappers, Elizabeth Smart was somehow recognized by a passing citizen nine months after she was taken. It was, without question, one of the most surreal moments in the history of surreality.

Then, almost as swiftly as she has vaporized, she was back.

These days, the story is old.

These days, as the secrets of the world trip over themselves on the way through the door: shuffling madly/directly through our skulls in a never-ending gusher of statistics and polls and uninvited opinions from a zillion experts whose expertise is just a wad of goose fat bubble snot slung from inside your flat screen and out into the ether of your world, slapping down on to the skin of your cheek with the anti-grace of a seagull turd splattering the high-afternoon boardwalk: these days, the tale of Elizabeth Smart and her terrible ordeal sucks in and survives on the stuffy air of a land called Archives.

And that’s fine, I guess, because word has come down: she’s all grown up and married now.

And that right there is all the news her daddy is ever going to need to know.

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