Recently, my wife gave birth to identical twin girls. It was not what I intended when I humbled myself as a boy in church and dared pray for something as exotic as identical twins. Whether or not my prayer made a difference is open to speculation. My friend John says it’s chance. My father thinks it’s genetics. I do not like to think there is a God, because if there is, he or she has a quirky sense of how the universe should be run, though I can’t help but think that the God of my Universe would behave exactly in this manner: meddling in the strange matters of lust and leaving the easier problems of famine, disease, and violence to us.
Incidentally, violence and famine seem like easy problems compared to raising hot twins (my wife is a former Teen Miss South Carolina, and barring the infiltration of too many of my genes, the girls will most likely take after their mother). It’s problematic enough that suddenly everything that comes along with a new baby – diapers, food, clothing, orthodonture, etc. – has been doubled. But let’s be realistic: I can plan for all that. That’s just about money. What I can’t plan for is every football player, every band geek, every long-haired-dope-smoking-slacker (ah, my brothers!) who will be encircling my little girls like sexual vultures. (Coincidentally, the sexual vulture who eventually preyed upon the Forney sisters was named Elizabeth – she was a softball player at a rival school, and the three of them were busted in a meth distribution ring a few years ago.)Every football player, every band geek will be encircling my little girls like sexual vultures.
During my own predatory adolescence I was always baffled as to why the fathers of the girls I dated glared at me as though I were a war criminal. At the time I suspected it was because I was rather . . . well, faggy. Had I lived in a large city my long bangs, disposition towards pastel colors, and love of Siouxsie and the Banshees would have attracted absolutely no attention at all. Instead I grew up in a place where the Klu Klux Klan still holds the occasional “parade.” Intolerance was as much a part of the landscape as Mimosa trees and roadside vegetable stands.
Of course, it’s not like I had the privilege of meeting every dad in the county. My dating prowess in high school was so frail that I don’t have a representative sample of fathers to go on here: my statistics are culled from only two subjects.
The first girl I ever dated, the very perfectly named Barbie, had to escort me to meet her father; I was still a month away from my driver’s license, and this simple fact was probably what caused him to dismiss me with a snort and a shake of the head before he returned to waxing his boat. Without a car, what threat was I? He knew not to take me seriously, and his instinct was correct because Barbie soon dismissed me as well to trade-up for a college boy.
Shelley’s father sized me up quite differently. I know this because when I arrived to pick her up, the first thing he said was: “I don’t like you.” I smiled sheepishly and said, “Well, I’m pretty likable.” He glared at me. He must have sensed the sexual desperation oozing from my pores. He was a squat man with the arms of a longshoreman, muscles built by labor and not vanity. The way the light silhouetted him in the doorway, he appeared to be a mythical creature with the torso of a gorilla and the legs of a ballet dancer.