Deadbeat Dad

An Open Letter To A Really Bad Person

By Tom Danehy


Just a note to let you know how things are going with your daughter. Not that you care, particularly, what with your conspicuous absence in her life. I always figured that when you were in town, you might stop by the house and see her. But then, with your ego, your head probably wouldn't fit through her front door.

Danehy I remember you when you were a star in these parts. Great athletic ability, no heart. No soul. No conscience. That's probably why you really never caught on that big here. You can't really fool people; most will see through you. A sports fan might say "Wow" when Allan Iverson does something, but they don't warm to him. They root for Gary Payton or Tim Hardaway. And they love John Stockton.

You were the Allan Iverson of your day, I suppose. Blazing past your athletic competition, while at the same time stumbling through life. You hurt a lot of people, almost none of them on the field of play.

Like I said, people can tell. That's why Sean Elliott is the beloved figure he is in these parts. He's the Real Deal, open and friendly, caring and concerned. Just about the complete opposite of your sorry butt.

Maybe it was your criminal activity that turned people off. The bungled credit-card scam that a seventh-grader could have told you wouldn't work. The repeated incidents of sexual bullying (if not all-out assault) which went unreported to the authorities, but were common knowledge in the community. Or perhaps it was just the physical assaults on women which were reported to the authorities and ended up in the papers.

Whatever the case, you were never a hero in these parts. Heck, even today, if somebody mentions your name, a thousand toilets flush all over town.

You don't live here anymore, but I know you come to town every now and then. I understand you're at the dog track so often, they put in a revolving door just for you. It's really a shame you can't find time to stop by and see your daughter; you might be so overcome by guilt or pride, you might even acknowledge her as your own. Naw, that would require you to act like an adult human being.

She's a great kid; one of my all-time favorites. She just may be the greatest natural athlete I've ever seen, but that's only a small part of what makes her special. She's also a straight-A student and a spectacular artist.

The kid's laugh is so infectious, she could probably make the bad guy in The Matrix crack a smile. Her smile's so bright, her close friends have a year-round sunburn off it. She's got a bizarre sense of humor and a perfect sense of right and wrong.

She can sing and dance, but mostly, she can act. She acts like a normal kid, rolling through high school. But inside, her heart breaks a little bit each day, knowing that you deny her.

That's the funny part, in a pathetic-funny sort of way. There's no way she's not your daughter. She looks just like you. Same face, same walk, same athletic legs. Fortunately, she didn't get your butt, which sits so high up on you, it looks like it's attached to your shoulder blades.

I know all about your denial; it's mostly a matter of shirking responsibility. That last word, responsibility, is a big one. You'd better look that one up and then have somebody explain it to you.

I've heard all the stories, but not from her. Heck, in a way, she idolizes you. She even wears jackets emblazoned with the logo of the professional team that made you a rich man.

She still holds onto a sliver of a dream that you're going to bump your head on something and wake up and all of a sudden be a dad. You'll waltz on in and start doing what you should have been doing for the past 15 years. But we know better, don't we?

Why else would the kid have been crying her eyes out because she couldn't come up with a lousy 25 bucks to go to the Winter Formal dance at school? Her mom could've swung it if only Biological Father had sent the child-support payment. But that would have required effort on your part. And kindness. And responsibility.

I know all about your little scam. How you got married, then got divorced on paper only, so you could put all your assets in your "ex"-wife's name. You drive a Porsche and live in a mansion, but officially, you don't have two nickels to rub together, especially when the court order comes a'callin'.

Why send the money, anyway? Her mom might just use it to buy food or clothes or something equally frivolous. You need that money. Besides, you're supporting all those people who work at Greyhound Park.

She's going through a rough time right now. Hey, she's a teenager; it comes with the territory, unless you're one of the lucky few who can manage to negotiate that blind curve of adolescence without getting sweaty hands and a permanent lump in the throat.

Friends are turning out not to be. Puppy love is rearing its ugly head in a real unproductive way. Little nagging injuries are chipping away at the confidence with which she attacked her athletic pursuits in the past. It'd be a great time to have a dad. Even if it's you.

I know this really won't matter to you. I just wanted to tell you so that when you're standing in front of the Southern equivalent of St. Peter, you won't be able to say, "I didn't know."

Have a lousy day.


Tom Danehy TW

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