Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song, A medley of extemporanea; And love is a thing that can never go wrong; And I am Marie of Roumania.

The following featured entry was originally written and published by Greg! Hogan! on the weblog, The Collective. He is Heather! Anne!'s most fabulous father.

While Heather Anne was growing up, more than once one of her classmates’ parents inquired, “You’re Heather’s natural father and your name is Greg, so why does Heather call you ‘Chuck’?” The answer to that question is the same as the reason I’m writing this: I have no idea.

Shortly after Heather was born, I moseyed (technical term) down to the local hunting and fishing emporium and inquired of the proprietor as to the most intimidating firearm that might be used to ward off pimply faced, squeaky voiced, young men with immodest intentions toward one’s first female offspring. Given the beauty of this little baby, I knew that it wouldn’t be long before the wolves were at the door. (Spoken figuratively of course. I mean I knew she wasn’t Romulus, and we lived in the thriving metropolis of Flowery Branch Georgia not ancient Rome, but who wants to take chances with wolves at the door whatever stripe of metaphor they happen to be). But I digress -- while spitting nasty streams of foul smelling brackish colored snuff juice into a Waffle House coffee cup, carefully lined with a folded paper towel, he winked with a disturbing twinkle in his eye, smiled where I could see all nine of his teeth and offered this pearl of wisdom, “ You gonna need sumptin with a big ol’ barrel dat’ll be entimedaten ta dem little sons o’ bitches. You ain’t afraid of blastin em in the ass er ya?”

I thanked him for his progressive and most illuminating perspective and decided to go a different direction. I would be the friendly, cool dad who befriended Heather’s young suitors, and while they were confused by the welcoming reception I would use psychology to twist their pliable minds. It wasn’t that I had the desire to permanently damage their young psyches. I just wanted to temporarily maim to the point where they could not function. But only to the point that they would require moderate amounts of psychological assistance in the future in order to have satisfying sexual relationships. (All father’s should have thanked me.)

Honestly, I don’t remember Heather’s first crush. She was all over the place. I’m sure it was someone in a boy band: BozIIMen, or NSYNC, or Hanson or New Kids on the Block. It could have been Zack, Slater or, heaven forbid, Screech. Or it might have been a girl – i.e. Michael Jackson or Sheryl Swoopes. Or maybe it was Mr. Rogers. Hell, who knows. It could have been Mr. Green in the library with a candlestick.

Or maybe it was Craig who lived down the street and played basketball with her all the time. I think she liked to shoot hoops with Craig because she could beat the pants off him, and he’d go into the woods with the snakes and get the ball when it rebounded down the hill. And Craig didn’t mind getting beaten by Heather because he did have a huge crush on her. I think she may have been oblivious to it. Some things don’t change. And it was Craig who helped Heather understand that, like Bill Clinton, she is black.

I knew Heather was susceptible to a crush when she indicated that she had discovered that there was a significant difference in the sexes when at the dinner table one evening she declared, “I’m not afraid to say penis.” And with great delight she proved that she was not afraid by repeating, “penis, penis, penis, penis, penis.” “That’s great. I’m happy for you,” I said, “Could I get another pork chop?” Her mother just groaned from the floor where she had struck her head against the potato box when she fell from the table.

The better story is the long list of young men who had crushes on Heather. She was like Tristan Ludlow in Legends of the Fall. “As much as he (she) tried to protect them he (she) was the rock they broke themselves against.” (Rent it if you haven’t seen it). Another great quote from the movie that applies to our Heather Anne, “Some people hear their own inner voice with great clearness and they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy, or they become legends.” (No charge for that one). I’ll leave it to your judgment as to which act of the play we’re witnessing today.

The list of would be suitors is long, distinguished and disparate. There were the jocks, the nerds, the “I’m with the band” guys, did I mention the jocks and the wannabe jocks. It wasn’t that she wasn’t interested; it’s just that they were so inept in their displays of affection. They rolled our yard, destroyed our mailbox, and of course nothing says I love you like writing on the hood of your mother’s car with lighter fluid.

But the story of a journey isn’t about where we start but about where we are in this moment, and where we plan to travel from here. So here’s how I end this story of Heather Anne’s first crush. (Both my kids hate my stories.) Crushes and loves are an important part of the journey to where our life ultimately leads. We have crushes and loves because we dare to dream. We dare to dream of what might be. While we are strong and independent we also want to belong. There is an old cliché that people come into our lives for a reason or a season or a lifetime. A cliché becomes a cliché because it has proven itself true over time.

So my precious Heather Anne, celebrate your crushes and your loves. Whether they have been your crush or your love for a season or a reason. Celebrate the one that is yet to be found for your lifetime. Celebrate the one’s you’ve had. The one’s you lost. The one’s you’ve wished for and missed. The one’s you’ve been too busy to see. Embrace and celebrate them all. Every love teaches us more about ourselves and who we are. Each love takes us one step further down the path along our journey to our dream. Don’t stop dreaming. Love is worth it.

I love you,

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