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10:10 p.m.

Lana feelsThe current mood of xengirl at www.imood.com

Her daddy says he ain't worth a lick

When it comes to brains he got the short end of the stick

But Katie's young and man she just don't care

She's follow Tommy anywhere

She's in love with the Boy!

Quite possibly the corniest country song ever written in all the world, but when I was a little kid I was so sure that was how things worked. I didn't want a prince on a white horse, I wanted a boy in overalls and a pick-up truck; red, with an extended cab. And I assumed that when the time came for me to play the rebellious teenager and break my curfew because I was In Love with a Boy, my Daddy would be waiting up to play the overprotective father, and it would require my mother's calming influence, telling him that I loved my suitor the way she still loved him, to soothe his paternal ire. These were supposed to be our roles. I would be the effortlessly beautiful comer of age, relentlessly chased by broken-hearted suitors, but still my Daddy's little girl at heart; my Daddy would be my fierce protector, my shield against the as-yet-unspecified threats to my virtue and future presented by the covetous Boys; my Mama would be there to curl my hair and my eyelashes, to take me shopping for prom dresses, teach me how to wear heels and pearls, to offer womanly advice and to comfort me when my first love broke my heart; my baby sister would watch me admiringly, and serve as my reminder to stay on the straight and narrow lest she be led astray by example. The twangy country songs my Minnesotan babysitters listened to with tears in their eyes promised it, the pictures they showed me from their high school taught me what it would look like, '80s hair and all. I was 8 years old and had no doubt in my mind as to how this was all going to work.

If only everyone else had been willing to play their role. But my Daddy, though he loves me, was not cut out to care one way or the other whether, whom, or when I'm dating, and refused to learn his lines. I've never in my life called my mother Mama, the one time she tried to teach me anything about makeup I almost had to go to the emergency room with a bad case of mascara brush to the eyeball, and she has zero inclination to be party to my private life. My sister knew her part, at least, but she played it a little too well. I am tempted sometimes to ascribe the various oddities of temperment that have plagued me since early adolescence to the fact that I was still trying to play my part in the story without any supporting characters. It's not easy to play the lead in one play when everyone else around you is playing at something else altogether, and would make even someone with much less mental illness in her family a little loopy.

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