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Sunday, April 17, 2005

survival kit

Survival Pack

Every quarter, Western Washington University writes to parents offering "finals week care packages for your student."

This Survival Pack is "an assortment of tasty treats designed to help students endure finals ... plus you get to add a personal note sending your love and encouragement."

I can't remember what silliness I used for Georgina's first quarter, but for the last package I typed a polite note as if from her father's valet, informing her that - as she probably knew - Sir Christopher was currently honeymooning in the Bahamas with the third Lady Holmes but had asked him (the valet) to do the needful.

Still posing as the ultra-correct manservant, I confessed uncertainty over the note of "love and encouragement", but had consulted 'cook' who informed me that "You go, girl" was current acceptable vernacular on such occasions.

And so off with the check and note and thought no more of it until Georgina phoned to laughingly thank me.

Apparently, the WWU authorities had been so appalled at the thought of so heartless a father leaving this personal and meaningful task to the hired help, they were hesitant even to show her the stiff note, preferring to pretend the note had become unattached but everyone distinctly remembering warm and personal paternal good wishes. I gather there were also discreet inquiries as to whether she had given thought to counseling.

I'm not sure how she wriggled out of that one.

This year's message is utterly bland and I've decided to quit such tomfoolery. This childish behavior with her educators dates back to her high school prom.

Her grandmother had generously paid for some glam long gown which, as the date loomed, looked like being less than a perfect fit. As I recall, G's mother made some vague noises about slimming down or else ... but I came up with the sort of threat that carries more meaning for one's offspring.

I had agreed to be one of the chaperones for the evening so I simply informed Georgina that, one way or another, *one* of the two Holmeses present would be wearing the dress that night. There were a few raised-eyebrow laughs at the time but, come the day, Georgina did indeed fit snugly into her haute couture so off we went, proud pater and dazzling daughter.

What I didn't realize was that G had shared this novel slimming aid with her teachers, as a result of which I innocently rolled up in my natty tux only to be met with a wave of disappointment and disapproval at depriving everyone of a good old Dame Edna-style cabaret. Can't win.

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