Sunday, 27 October 2013

Father's Day: Joe Klein to Sophie

Dear Sophie,
Well, you’ve really gone and done it now. You’ve left us, bound for Bushwick to live with your lovely beau. You’re also well launched on your career in entertainment management. You certainly don’t need any advice from me—and so, as usual, I’ll offer some.
First, let’s review what we know about you. Without question, you’re the child who most resembles me—far more than your three laid-back brothers. This, as we know, can be a mixed blessing. You’re pretty intense, tough and stubborn. You’re also a hell of a lot better-looking than I am, which also can be a mixed blessing. You’re the best athlete in the family. You are also a hoot; when you get rolling, you can be very funny.
I think the episode in your life which best demonstrates all these qualities was your infamous 5th grade horse sculpture. The assignment was to sculpt a sitting person. You refused. You wanted to sculpt a horse. The teacher chastised you, tried to intimidate you, made you sit at a separate table from the rest of the class. You didn’t care. You sculpted a hilarious statue of a horse sitting on a stool, reading a book: “Learning to Lose the Saddle.” Even the martinet of a teacher had to admit it was a triumph.
I’ve seen you do similar things ever since, and I am not at all worried that you’ll be pushed around in the years to come. I’ve also come to understand that you take work—any work—very seriously. That’s a good thing. I have no doubt that you’ll be successful. But you should always remember that horse. There may be times that your bosses think you’ve gone off the deep end, and you should respect their judgment. But if you really believe in what you’re doing, stick with it, fight for it. There will be times when you’re wrong, but you’ll learn from them, and I know you’ll come back stronger.
One thing I’ve noticed is that, like me, you get nervous and sometimes negative, facing a new challenge. It usually evaporates once you start working. You should always remember how skeptical you were going into the job as the director’s assistant on that independent film. You worried about every negative scenario imaginable, and some that were quite unbelievable, but you ended up loving every minute of that job. So give new situations a chance before you pass judgment. Don’t be ridiculously patient—there are times when it’s just the wrong project—but do go in with an open mind.
On the home front, let me just say—and your boyfriend will think this is absolutely hilarious—don’t be afraid to fight. Your Mom and I have been battling for 34 years and it’s been extremely annoying for you—but therapeutic for us. It’s a lot better than bottling things up, although I can’t ever imagine you doing that. It’s got to be done from a basis of love; mom famously called our marriage “lovingly contentious.” If you lose the love, the fighting just isn’t worth it—and it can cause real long-term hurt and harm. So be very, very careful about letting loose.
The other thing I don’t have to tell you is: enjoy yourselves. The two of you have traveled the world together, cooked together, danced and partied and been happily quiet, puttering around the house together. Mom and I get a kick out of seeing you the two of you as a loving couple.
I know you’re proud—boy, do I know it—but you should be assured that I’ll be with you, and for you, whatever happens.  Whenever you need me, I’ll be there. I’ll always be looking forward to the next iteration of the horse sculpture. And you’ll always, always be my darling girl. So don’t be a stranger.
Love, Dad

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