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PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, and events are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to real persons, places, or events is coincidental.

 

Copyright 2018 © Linda Lingle

All rights reserved

 

Wrote this one for Pop.  

Dear Tooth Fairy,

Here are two teeth.  Michael Q. Lewis knocked them out this afternoon when he was trying to hit a homerun.  The bat slipped out of his hand and hit me in the mouth instead.  Mommy cried, but Daddy said that I could get good money for these teeth if I put them under my pillow and went right to sleep, so that is what I am going to do.

 

If my teeth really are worth money – and I’m sure they are since my Daddy said so, I am going to get Michael Q. Lewis to knock out all of my teeth so I can get a baton like Mary Katherine Baker’s.   Love, Kristen

 

Dear Kristen,

Your daddy was right.  At the current rate of exchange your teeth are worth 25 cents apiece, so I am leaving 50 cents under your pillow, just like your daddy said I would.  However, do not get Michael Lewis to knock out the rest of your teeth.  If you do, your mother will be very upset, and you won’t be able to eat.   I will speak to your father about a baton.   Love, The Tooth Fairy

 

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Phillips,

Please arrange to meet me at my classroom tomorrow afternoon at 3:30. There is a matter concerning Kristen’s behavior about which I would like to speak to you.   Nancy Putnam

 

Dear Daddy,

Miss Putnam is mean.  She made me sit all by myself at the back of the class when all I did was walk in on Michael Q. Lewis when he was using the bathroom.  Miss Putnam said a young lady should never enter a bathroom when it is occupied by a young man, but I don’t care!  Michael Q. Lewis pushed my head down when I was getting a drink at the fountain, and nearly drowned me!  So, I had a right to see the look on his face when I flushed his ratty old mittens down the commode.  Your good little girl, Kristen

 

Dear Kristen:

I left a Betsy Wetsy, and a pair of skates, and a shiny red wagon under your tree just like you asked.  I did not leave you a puppy because that is not my department.  

 

Rudolph and I very much enjoyed the milk and cookies and the carrot cake you set out for us.  But, next time, Honey, you needn’t stick three whole carrots in your mother’s fruit cake batter when she isn’t looking since Ruldoph enjoys raw carrots even more than carrot cake.   Merry Christmas, Santa

 

Dear Daddy,

Mary Katherine Baker told me that there is no such person as Santa Claus so I punched her in the mouth for spreading lies.  This is why I will be in my room when you get home from work.    Kristen Phillips, Santa’s friend.

 

Dear Kristen,

I know you are worried about having your tonsils out tomorrow, but you needn’t be.  Dr. Masters is a fine doctor and, whether you think so or not, he does know what he is doing.  Mommy and I will be by your side the whole time, and you know that we would never let anything bad happen to our little girl.  So, in the morning, when we leave for the hospital, if you just think of all of the fun you’ll have describing your operation to all of your friends, before you know it, you’ll be back home, in your own bed, enjoying all of the Peach Melba ice cream you can eat!   Love, Daddy

 

 

THE SIXTH GRADE CLASS OF

DANIEL WEBSTER GRADE SCHOOL

REQUESTS THE HONOR OF YOUR PRESENCE AT THEIR PRODUCTION OF

ALICE IN WONDERLAND

 

Adapted by Kristen Phillips

 

And starring

Mary Katherine Baker

Michael Q. Lewis

Fred Ferguson

Ralph Norris

Patricia Shields

Beth Mitchell

Frank Dancer

Rose Williams

Carol Cutler

Peggy Matthews

Janet Wolfman

and

Kristen Phillips

as

The Queen of Hearts

Dear Kristen,

Your mother and I just wanted you to know how much we enjoyed your play tonight.  You did a fine job of adapting Lewis Carroll’s much-loved story, even though you did editorialize a bit.  (I do not recall Carroll having the Queen of Hearts tell the Mad Hatter to “blow it out his ear,” but then it’s been awhile since I’ve read Alice.)

 

If you keep going down the road you’re heading on, Mom and I suspect that you will be a good and important writer someday. In the meantime, just keep doing the best you can do, and Mom and I will continue to be proud of you.   Daddy   

 

PS – I hope you apologized to Mike Lewis for laughing out loud when his pants fell down.   Really, Kristen, you must learn some self-control.

 

Dear Daddy,

Mother absolutely refuses to let me wear nylons to my eighth-grade graduation, even after I told her all of the other girls are wearing them, and that I will look like a BABY if I have to graduate in knee-highs. Could you speak to Mom for me and tell her that I am GROWN UP now?  Please, Daddy, do your best, because if I don’t get to wear nylons like the rest of the girls, I will be the laughingstock of the entire school and will have to leave town in disgrace.   Your mature daughter, Kristen

 

Dear Kristen,

When Mom and I decided that you were old enough to wear nylons to your graduation ceremony, we did not intend for you to interpret that as a license to plunge headlong into maturity.  Wearing nylon stockings to an occasional important affair is one thing, but to parade down the aisle of the church, all decked out in lipstick and rouge, without first clearing it with your parents, or at least with Sister Margaret Rose, is quite another.

 

I know that you are anxious to grow up, Kristen, but you must try not to rush it.   If you do, you will miss out on the many other wonderful experiences life has to offer a young woman like you, who is just beginning to travel down the road to maturity.  You can never go back and enjoy those experiences again if you hurry past them now, so slow down a bit, Honey.   There will be plenty of time for lipstick and rouge later.   But for now, try to content yourself with being 14, because 14 is a wonderful age to be.  Love, Dad

 

Dear Dad,

Everyone is mad at me and I don’t know why.  All I did was write the truth and now I am an outcast.  I mean, is it my fault that there were hairs in the Salisbury steaks that the cafeteria served last Tuesday?  Is it my fault that I have a sacred obligation as a journalist to report this news to my fellow students in the school paper?  Is it my fault that Mr. Wildeman was absent the day he was supposed to proofread the paper before it went to print?  Sister Mary John the Baptist says that it is and now I have to stay after school for an entire month, and all because I told the truth.   There is absolutely no justice in the world.   Your ace reporter, Kristen

 

Dear Dad,

Do you think you could possibly let me have $22 so that I can buy some pom poms to try out for the Junior Varsity cheer-leading squad?  I think I have a good chance of making it, Daddy, and if I do, you will get a good return on your investment since those pom poms will last me an entire year, maybe two.   Your rah-rah girl, Kristen

 

Dear Daddy,

This has been the most horrible year of my life.   First, I practically get thrown in jail for writing about Salisbury steaks.  Then, I lose out on being a cheerleader by only one vote, and now I have no date for the junior prom.  I suppose I should have said yes when Michael Q. Lewis asked me, but now it is too late.  He is taking Mary Katherine Baker, and I will have to sit at home and watch television with you and Mom when I should be enjoying the best years of my life.  What a gyp!   Miserably, Kristen

 

Dear Kristen,

How hectic these last few months have been!  First, there was your senior prom.   You looked so lovely as you floated down the stairs in your chiffon and lace that I knew life would never be the same for you.

 

Then graduation.   I can’t tell you how proud Mom and I were when you walked on stage to accept the Father James O’Neill Medal for Creative Writing Medal and the Dr. Mel Wolf Award for Excellence in Journalistic Reporting.   What an accomplishment!

 

After graduation, your first job.  Mom cried as you walked out the door all dressed up in your new uniform, and I must admit that there was a lump in my throat too.  If I live to be a hundred, I will never forget the joy on your face when you came home from work and spread your first night’s tips out on the kitchen table  -- all $2.10 worth.

 

Now, college.  Tomorrow you’ll be leaving us -- leaving behind your old life and starting a wonderful new one.   A part of me wants to wish you well and gently push you out the door. Yet, another part of me wants to keep you forever young, forever my little girl.  This is an exciting time in a young girl’s life, and a terrible one in a father’s.  Letting go is always hard.  Still, I am trying, Kristen; your mother and I both are.   But you must try not to become impatient with us if you find that we’re not quite as eager to let you go as you are to be free.  Your old and loving, Dad

 

Dear Dad,

Well, I seem to have settled into the routine here.  Classes started yesterday and, wouldn’t you know it, I got into trouble right off the bat.  I wanted to take Freshman Comp, Major World Writers, American Lit, Creative Writing and Theories of Drama, but my counselor insisted that I take Biology, French and some kind of Math instead of the Lit courses.  I tried to explain to him that I will never use Biology, French and Higher Mathematics, even if I live to be 100, but Mr. Mathias said that the whole point of college was to get a well-round education. It  sounded like a bunch of baloney to me, Dad, and I told him so, but he pulled out the big guns and told me that I wouldn’t be allowed to graduate without Biology and Math, so I had to capitulate.  But I’m not happy about it.

 

As if that wasn’t bad enough, guess who I ran into in my first Biology class.  Michael Q. Lewis!  I came clear across the state to get away from that guy, and here he is, attending the very same school I am!  I know he came here just to irritate me.  But maybe some good will come out of this since he is a Biology major, and although I would rather die a slow, horrible death from boils than ask him for help, there are ways to get around that, and I’m praying that I’ll think of one.

 

The food here stinks, so if Mom had a mind to mix up a batch of her famous raisin cookies and send them along, I’d be able to stave off starvation, at least for a little while.  Your co-ed daughter, Kristen   

 

 

Mon Cher Pere,

Comment allez-vous?  Je suis tres bien, merci, except that I hate French!  And Math!  And Freshman Bio! I guess my heart just isn’t into getting a well-rounded education. 

 

I joined The Banner, that’s our school paper, and I’m real excited about it even though all I’ve done so far is sharpen pencils and fill up glue pots.  I’m supposed to be an apprentice and they’re the only things apprentices are allowed to do around here.  I keep telling them that I have the soul of a Don Marquis and the potential of a Jack Anderson, but they weren't impressed.  Maybe next semester, when I finally get to write something, I’ll be able to prove my point. 

 

Meanwhile, Dad, I promise I’ll try harder with French if you promise not to be too disappointed about my grades.   Aime, Aimes, Aimons, Aimez, Aiment, Kristen 

Dear Kristen,

Thanks for the copy of your school newspaper.  Mom and I have been eagerly awaiting its arrival ever since you phoned last week to tell us it was on the way.  Thanks, too, for taking pains to point out the exact location of your feature article.   I’m sure we would have found it even if you hadn’t starred it, boxed it and guided our paths to it with a series of well-placed arrows, but it was nice of you to have made our task easier and so much more adventuresome.

 

As for the article itself, the reviews here are mixed.  Mom, of course, loved it unequivocally.  She thinks you’re another Art Buchwald and is at this minute in the next room writing her own letter, probably offering you her services as your agent.

 

My reaction, however, was somewhat more restrained.  There can be no doubt that as a college sophomore you have greatly improved your writing skills.  Your style and pacing are excellent, and your prose is crisp and clean, and just the kind of high-quality stuff that I like to see from you.  But the subject matter you chose to explore, and the way you chose to cover it, did give me a bit of a start since I am not entirely convinced that it was ethical of you to try to snare a spot on the Boys’ J.V. Basketball team when, as I suspect, you had no intention of playing ball, but merely wanted to get a story on sexual sports discrimination for your paper. 

 

The fact that you didn’t make the team came as no surprise to me since I have never known you to be interested in the sport as anything other than a spectator.  What did surprise me was the way you slanted your article to give the impression that you were among the first cut simply because you are a woman.   Had you been a gifted athlete who was barred from the team because of your gender, that would have been one thing.  But it is quite another thing, Kristen, and not at all discriminatory, if you were passed over because you don’t know the first thing about how to play the game.  If you had been honest with yourself, and with your readers, as a good newspaper person must be, you wouldn’t have tried to pass yourself off as a female Wilt the Stilt just because you got lucky and landed a jump shot.

As for Mike Lewis not speaking to you, well, I can’t say that I blame him.  I mean, really, Kristen, it was bad enough that you sauntered up to him during tryouts and slapped him on the butt in front of his friends.  But when you described his embarrassment in great comic detail for your column, you went too far. 

 

I know all this criticism must sound pretty harsh to you, Honey, and I’m sorry if it does.   But it seems to me that if you truly want to be a good writer, you must learn how to temper your enthusiasm with integrity, otherwise you’ll end up writing for some rag of a yellow newspaper, and you’re far too talented for that.

 

So, the next time you get an assignment, sit down and plot a straightforward course to your goals.  And when you have accomplished them, you will feel good about yourself, and about your writing, and you won’t have to wonder why “the entire universe” seems to be against you, including your old dad, who loves you and who only wants the best for you.  Love, Daddy McCritic

 

Dear Dad!

Michael Q. Lewis and a bunch of his cronies snuck into my room tonight and tried to sabotage my Smith-Corona!  Beth and I were returning from the shower and caught them just as they were about to smear a jar of Peter Pan peanut butter all over the keyboard!  We hollered for help, but no one came, so we had to single-handedly defend the honor of my typewriter, and we did!  

 

Michael Q. Lewis will never get the smell of Jean Nate bath oil out of his clothes if he lives to be a hundred!  And Zeke O’Brien will be eating peanut butter and goose feathers for a long time to come.   This is the most fun I had since I’ve been here!  And I can’t wait until tomorrow night when Beth and I are going to confiscate their jock straps and run them up the flagpole.  With their names attached, of course!  I’ll let you know how it all turns out if I don’t get arrested!  If I do, send bail!   Your defender of truth, justice and the American typewriter, Kristen

Dear Dad,

Michael Q. Lewis bet me that I couldn’t keep my mouth shut for ten minutes straight and now I have to go to the Junior Spring Formal with him, which is why I need thirty bucks.   Michael told me to see if I couldn’t dress up my jeans a little for the formal, so I’m going to rent a sequined tuxedo and knock his eyes out!  Your Never-Say-Die Daughter, Kristen

 

Dear Kristen,

Enclosed is the money you requested and a few dollars more.   If you really want to knock Michael’s eyes out, I suggest you take this money and buy yourself something becomingly feminine.  Otherwise Michael may make you sit in the car.  Love, Dad.

 

Dear Dad,

Being editor of The Banner isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.  Not only do I have to contend with missed deadlines and printers’ strikes, but now I also have to put up with a new Business Manager named Michael Q. Lewis! Please, Dad, tell Mom to send cookies. Her raisin-filled crescents are the only things that will keep me sane.   Kristen

 

PS – I bet Lois Lane never had it like this.

 

Dear Kristen,

I can’t tell you how proud we are that you finally sold one of your short stories!  Mom and I have told all of our friends and we are making plans to buy out the May issue of North American Miss, as per your request.   In the meantime, Honey, keep up the good work.  And let us know when we should schedule your autograph session.  Your self-styled agent and your loving PR man, Mom and Dad

 

PS – Mrs. Lewis called us with the news right after you did.   It seems that Michael was phoning her about the same time you were talking with us.  Did you know he’s going to Boston to study medicine next year?

 

Dear Kristen.

If you love Michael and want to spend the rest of your life with him, go ahead and grab him.  Just because he proposed right after he blocked your catch and tackled you to the ground during the annual Banner staff picnic and football rally is no reason to turn the man down.  I admit he had no business kissing you when you were at the bottom of that pileup and couldn’t see who was doing what.  But you were the one who, sight unseen, volunteered to marry the man who had bestowed that kiss, so you can’t really blame Mike for wanting to hold you to your word. 

 

Seriously, though, Kristen, I think you know that Michael loves you, and probably always has, and I suspect he’s right when he says that you will never find a better man.   When you finally decide to let him off the hook, give him my best and welcome him to the family.   Love, Dad

 

Dear Daddy,

No girl has ever had a better father.   I love you, Daddy, and I want you to know that you will always be the number one man in my life.   Thank you for a beautiful wedding.   Kristen Phillips Lewis

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