My daughter wore a very small black dress for her birthday dinner. I have a history with it. I bought it when I travelled to New York. I was guided by a photo and specific instructions from her. Unable to find it in stores, I eventually found it on Amazon, which dropped it off at a drop-off point in Long Island where I was staying, and spent an hour at night looking for the drop-off point.
She looked devastating in it. She wanted to see the gardens at Talisman and as we made our way through the restaurant, men stared at her. I wanted to shout at them, “She is only 16!” The whole night, I sat there feeling a mix of feelings; pride and fear.
Proud that she was turning into a resourceful, respectable, and self-aware woman. Fearful that now she would meet all sorts of men, some terrible, and that she would hurt at times. Fearful that she would leave me in two years to chase her dreams and build her community as I grow old and arthritic and not be able to chew my food.
Our waiter was very kind to us and very attentive to her. Made her feel special. We both had the Chicken Al Limone and creamy mash, which was one of the best meals I’d had in a while. She ordered a mocktail to make her feel sophisticated and ladylike. My son, who barely talked to us because he insisted on bringing his goddamn tablet for dinner, had something fishy.
In the end, they brought out her cake from the kitchen under the hullabaloo of song and dance that she had warned me against. She turned and stared at me murderously and lovingly. I hate song and dance too but come on, it’s sweet 16! I wanted to make her 16th night memorable. I - egotistically, as a father should - wanted none of her boyfriends to match this night but also to give her a decent benchmark for them to do.
What a beautifully heartbreaking night at Talisman it was. Felt like we were all crossing the Rubicon.