Sunday, March 14, 2010


Dear Spike:

You've got the rest of your life to wear clothes. And your penchant for spur-of-the-moment stripping has (mostly) been confined to our home. So I'm not too concerned about your recent turn as a nudist.

But you'll have to enjoy your freedom while it while it lasts, because eventually you're going to have to don some duds.

I suppose that, in an ideal world, none of us would wear clothes, save for warmth or style. If you buy the Biblical account of Adam and Eve, that's how it was supposed to be — up until the whole forbidden fruit incident, that is. And if you're more inclined toward an evolutionary view of things, you're likely to note that we're the only animal on the planet that feels compelled to wear the skins of other animals. (OK, I suppose there's an argument to be made about hermit crabs and chihuahuas, but humans are still a relative oddity in Animalia.)

But this is nothing like an ideal world. This is a world that has been hyper-sexualized. This is a world that is exploitative. And increasingly, this is a world in which nothing you do stays private for long.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that we don't always get to choose whether something is innocent or not. And so modesty is as much a public virtue as it is a personal one.

I reckon this might cause some tension between us someday. And although it's probably easier here in Utah (where weather and culture encourage modest dress) I have no doubt in my mind that there will come a day when we're not going to see eye-to-eye on your preferred skin-to-fabric ratio.

And, such is life, I'm equally certain that there will be plenty of times is which you might feel compelled — whether by love, friendship, trust, drunkenness or momentary insanity — to... um... "run free," as it were.

Be careful. Be considerate of your future. And for goodness sake, consider your father, too.

I pray that you will never feel uncomfortable in your own skin. Our bodies are a beautiful gift — a gift to be shared with the right people at the right time and in the right place.

Until then, like any gift, it's nice to keep things under wraps.


Thursday, March 11, 2010


Doris "Granny D" Haddock

Dear Spike:

Doris Haddock knew what she had to do.

When a fellow Democrat absconded from the race to be the next U.S. senator from New Hampshire in 2004, Haddock seized the moment. With four months to go before the election, the activist known as "Granny D" announced her candidacy — entering into the dog-eat-dog world of national politics at the age of 94.

But inspired as that decision may have been, on the eve of the debate with her incumbent opponent, Granny D was feeling tired, overwhelmed and scared.

"Please God," she prayed, kneeling at her bedside in a flannel nightgown. "Don't let me make a fool of myself."

Maybe the Almighty called down a favor. Or maybe Haddock simply rose to the occasion. Whatever happened, on that following day, Granny D kicked her opponent's ass.

Seventy-five percent of those watching the debate said she'd won the war of words.

But this isn't a story about miracles. In a nation where political debates are low-ratings events and politics is a big-money game, the enormously outspent great-grandmother didn't have a chance. She lost the election 66 to 34 percent.

It doesn't matter. Even if Granny D had succeeded in her Quixotic quest, she would have found herself one voice in a hundred-person choir of corruption. And although she allowed herself to believe that she had a chance to win the race, Haddock knew her fight was about something even more important than winning.

"Democracy is not something we have," she said. "It's something we do."

Granny D Haddock walked the talk. We should all be so brave.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Dear Spike:

It used to be, when it was bedtime but you just weren't ready for sleep, you'd hide under you covers, kick up your feet to make a little tent, and sing songs to an audience of stuffed animals until you were finally tired enough to slumber.

But lately you've been having trouble entertaining yourself in your room in the dark, and so you end up at our bedroom door — a blanket in one arm and a stuffed bear in the other — and plead to sleep in our bed.

"I'm scared," you say.

"What are you scared of?" I ask.

You pick something. The animals perched on your shelf. The elephants painted on your wall. The drapes hanging over your window.

"That's nothing to be scared of," I say.

"But I'm scared," you say.

And who am I to argue with that?

I tuck you into bed, kiss you on the head, and go back to my room.

Five minutes go by and the process starts all over again, this time with your mother.

I'm not sure why it is that children are so often afraid at night. Perhaps fear of the dark is an evolutionary trait that kept little homo erectus young ones from running off into the jungle after the sunset. Or perhaps it's just another random, unexplainable eccentricity of our species, like ice curling or the Osmond family.

But I do understand. I remember being afraid of the dark, too. And sometimes when I'm locking up the house at night or heading to the kitchen for a midnight snack, I get that frighteningly familiar chill on the back of my neck — and I am briefly reconnected with the way it felt to be very little in a very big, very dark place.

So even though I'll most often send you back to bed and remind you that it is your job to stay there, I'll never be angry at you for this.

Sometimes we feel scared. That's just part of who we are.