Whenever my daughter gets into the car, she, like most of the women I’ve known in my life, assumes complete control of the radio or, in this case, Apple Music. “Dad,” my daughter said a soon has she buckled her seat belt. “Play Taylor Swift.” Notice the absence of the word “please.” 

“What song?” I asked. 

“’Karma’- but the clean version.” My daughter is very sensitive to profanity which is unfortunate since her dad curses like a sailor. When you have your kid at forty-five, it’s tough to get suddenly start censoring the colorful words that’ve been flowing out of your mouth since you were thirteen. Then again, that’s probably why Natalie can’t stand to hear it.

“Nope,’ I said, “It’ll only let me do the regular one.” But since Natalie had heard the explicit version a million times, I let it play anyway. I guess I’m a bad father. After the song was over, my daughter issued her next Swiftie request, but couldn’t remember the name of the song, just a snippet of the lyrics. 

“Natalie,” I said, mildly frustrated, “I can’t play DJ right now, I’m driving.” 

“But Dad…” 

“Siri,” I said, “Play ‘Heartbreak Radio’ by Roy Orbison.” 

“What’s that?” 

“Just listen,” I said, turning up the volume as Roy’s multi octave voice burst into song.  I have no problem with Ms. Swift but, after months and months of being forced to listen to her entire musical oeuvre, I wanted to expose Natalie to something different, and Roy was certainly that. Bopping my head to the rockabilly beat, I sang along. 

Hometown sweetheart. Hung around in the dark. 

Only make a move or two. I was just a young fool. 

Never been to night school, Didn’t know enough to be cool. 

So she found another lover, They went undercover. 

The way she stole my heart was a Crime 

In order to keep the peace Callin’ out the police 

Find her’fore i lose my mind.

The woman i love done gone and Left me alone

She’s got a bad big record on the Heartbreak radio.

A complete investigation, What’s her destination.

Did she leave a trace at all?

Book on her suspicion. Just look at my condition.

She left me here to take the fall.

Then, when the song was over, I said, “So, what did you think of that?” 

“It was okay.” I guess there’s no accounting for taste. 

“Just okay?” 

“What was it about?” 

“How women can drive men nuts.” 


“Siri,” I said. “Play ‘’Crying’ by Roy Orbison.” 

“Not this old timey stuff!” Natalie wailed. Then when that song was over, she said. “And what was that about?”  

“How women drive men nuts.” 

“Enough! Please play Taylor Swift! Please Daddy!”  Now she says please. Amazing the results torture delivers. But it’s funny, my daughter eats up Ms. Swift singing about love gone bad but, when it’ a guy’s turn to complain, she wants none of it. Might I be detecting a burgeoning hypocrisy here? Chuckling, I acquiesced to Natalie’s musical request, thinking of what love songs my daughter will sing one day. 

When I picked up Natalie from summer camp when she was four, a counselor grimly took me aside and informed me that a boy had kissed my daughter. “How old was the boy?” I asked. 

“Her age,” the counselor said, fearfully.  

“Stuff like that happens,” I said. “No worries.” 

“I’m glad you understand,” she said, relieved I wasn’t one of “those parents.” 

“If he’d been fourteen, however, I’d kill him.” 

Because one of my co-workers’ sons worked at the camp, Natalie’s “kiss” become the stuff of legend around the office – but I already knew Natalie was going to be a handful by then. During the spring, we were visiting my wife’s friends in Brooklyn when a black low rider with rap music blaring at levels guaranteed to scramble your internal organs crept past us on the street. Natalie, grooving to the beat, started dancing like a fly girl and then, when she was finished, cocked her hip, looked over her sunglasses, extended her arm, and pointed at the car, as if to say, “Is that all you’ve got?”  Then, with a mix of fascination and dread, I watched as the low rider’s tinted windows rolled down and the driver, who looked like a really big dude, looked over his sunglasses and growled, “Brother, you are in serious trouble.” Don’t I know it. 

Natalie is a pretty, sassy girl and, as she gets older, I’m beginning to catch glimpses of the woman she will become. At that age where she thinks boys are “icky” I know she’s still secretly fascinated by them, often peppering me with questions how I asked girls out on dates before I met her mother. Of course, she gets the most sanitized version of events possible, but I can tell she’s trying to wrap her head around the whole man/woman thing and, to be honest, I’m in no rush to help her. But I can already tell she’s gonna drive a couple of poor guys crazy before she figures it out. I’m sure Natalie will cause a few boys to dial into that heartbreak radio, but eventually, she’ll find someone who’ll sing in tune with her.

Hopefully before she gives me a heart attack. 

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