2001-05_AintWeCuteStrands of gold framed a face both innocent and knowing. Even the touch of makeup, designed to make her face look older, did little to mask the excited-little-girl gleam in her eye. The nervous way she bit her rouged lips betrayed her youth.

Fourteen years old, dressed up like a movie queen, going to the Homecoming dance.

Her father was beside himself. He was uncertain if he wanted to wrap her in a huge bear hug and keep her home, safe, all night. He didn’t know if he wanted to act aloof and sophisticated — the modern father, accepting that his little girl is growing up despite his fondest wishes.

In the end, a curious mixture of both won. Tears glistened in his eyes. He pretended they didn’t, and in a voice that was too thick sternly reminded her that her curfew was 11:30.

“Plenty late enough for a 14 year old. Have a good time. Call if you need help.”

This last bit was said almost wistfully. Perhaps he secretely hoped she would need his help, and daddy could come to her rescue.

Her mother just smiled. She kept her prayers silent.

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