Let me tell you a story about Daddy and me. He was in a high school journalism class with me, and from the first day I slid into my desk, I thought he was beautiful. Still, my first impression of him was that he was trouble – bold enough to hit on our pretty, young, first-year teacher during her first day of class introduction, and there were all kinds of rumors about why a girl like me should keep her distance. He would tell me I was pretty when I wore a certain schoolgirl skirt, but now I know that his first impression of me was that, sophomore to his senior, (and I’m not going to lie, a little bit babygirl even then) I was too young for him.
Eventually, I worked up the courage to come to the after-school writer’s group. He was a leader there, and I was the new girl. His poetry took my breath away. It was prose-y and rough, filled with raw emotion – longing and loneliness and self-doubt. From the first piece he read, something told me that he was for me.
I wrote in a lot of different styles, but in that group, following Daddy’s lead already, I shared a lot of poetry. In my poetry, I hid. I hid behind perfect meter and rhyme, or clever historic references that no one else in the room could parse. I had dark things to hide from, sharp edges that kept me from bleeding onto the page the way that Daddy did. My favorite hiding place was cleverness.
I would put together dissonant elements, and through the course of the piece make them fit together in an interesting or unexpected way, and from day one it fascinated Daddy. Before there was romance between us, he started to play with me, turning me this way and that to figure out what made me tick. At every meeting, he’d give me an assignment – something impossible to write about and make it seem natural, and my as-yet unrecognized teacher’s pet fetish flourished.
Every week, I’d share what I’d written in response to his prompt, and he was always delighted with my results, until we started dating and for the first time, my poetry stopped hiding, instead responding to the pieces he wrote about our early courtship in an unfolding explosion of chemistry that, I’m quite certain, made all of the other young writers roll their eyes in long-suffering tolerance. But for us, it was magic.
He’s my best and most introspective editor now, because not only is he a talented storyteller, he always knows exactly where I’m trying to go with any written piece. His role, more than anything, now is to take whatever I’ve decided to write on my own and shape it until it’s exactly what I wanted it to be (whether I realize it or not in the midst of the process.) But once in a while, he’ll look at me with that old glint in his eye and give me some strange and impossible assignment to write, just for him.
I saw that glint when we were scrolling through Netflix and noticed a shiny, pretty cartoon based on Lego Elves. See, after years of lamenting about a lack of pretty Legos for girls to play with, I was so pleased with the release of the Elves sets. I lean hard toward science fiction these days, but I’m a fantasy junkie from way back, and dragons and elves and magic is still a happy place for me. I don’t get to spend as much time in my babygirl shoes as I’d like, but an afternoon of cartoons and Legos is a favorite way to wash away the stress of too many long days in a row telling other people what to do.
As soon as Daddy saw that there was a Lego Elves cartoon, I knew he was working on something, and it was only a matter of time before I found out what. On a day where my schedule was open, but Daddy’s was packed, and I was stressed and anxious, Daddy gave me a job to do. I was to play with a new toy I’d bought, watch an episode of Elves, and write a sexy story for Daddy to read.
I put the episode on and turned my focus to watching for inspiration for my story. As I watched (perhaps because of the not-quite-strong-enough vibrations of the new toy – enough to keep me at attention, but not enough to make me come) every scene felt like an opportunity, and rather than finishing the episode, then writing a single story, I kept pausing the show to write an extension of a scene I’d just watched, then hitting play again until I saw another opening.
It yielded a strange piece of work, but was such a fun game to play, and such an interesting extension of the games I played with Daddy when I first met him, I wanted to share it here.