Frank Mulligan: Don’t make waves, Dad

Frank Mulligan

Once again, dear reader, the burning question must be asked: Did this conversation actually take place? (Perhaps it’s not actually burning, but it definitely induces a painful, itching sensation.) In this controversial, passively interactive-styled column, you, cherished reader, are asked to ascertain whether the following dialogue actually occurred verbatim, is tailored somewhat, or is wholly the product of an imagination gone as wild as Lady Gaga at a Mets game.

The following conversation takes place in a land called Southern California (or does it?) and involves a father and his daughter (or does it?) and both are wearing skippers’ caps not unlike that sported by Popeye the Sailor Man (or are they?).

Daughter: Dad?

Dad: Yes, dear.

Daughter: I want to fulfill my lifelong dream.

Dad: That’s nice. How old are you again?

Daughter: I’m 16.

Dad: I guess that’s old enough to have a lifelong dream. You just haven’t had it as long as someone who has, you know, had a longer life.

Daughter: That’s why I like confiding in you, Dad. You’re very deep – like the ocean, which brings me to my lifelong dream: I want to sail around the world by myself and become the youngest person ever to sail around the world by myself. I think that would be so cool.

Dad: That’s funny. Your brother had the same lifelong dream when he was 17.

Daughter: Wow, did he? What a coincidence.

Dad: Yeah, it’s downright shocking, really. Um, have you thought this out, dear? I mean, sailing around the world by yourself could be, well, dangerous.

Daughter: Yeah, but it’d be so cool.

Dad: Well, there’s no denying that.

Daughter: Dad, you always said you’d be supportive of my dreams, especially my lifelong ones.

Dad: I said that?

Daughter: Lots of times.

Dad: You’ve really thought this out, haven’t you?

Daughter: I’ve gone over everything in my mind. I mean, what could happen? So my schedule would place me in the Indian Ocean at the start of the monsoon season. That’s no reason to squelch the lifelong dream of a 16-year-old, is it?

Dad: Heck, no. Well, it seems like my little girl is growing up.

Daughter: So can I?

Dad: What’d your mother say?

Daughter: She said it was OK with her if it was OK with you.

Dad: It seems like she’s given it a lot of thought, too. Well, all right. But be careful, and I’ll see you when you get back.

Daughter: Thanks, Dad! You’re the best!

Dad: (chuckles warmly) Thanks, kitten. It’s not always easy being a dad. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions.

And that’s it, dear, cherished reader.

Now it’s up to you. Did this conversation actually take place?

Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Raynham, Mass., office, and can be reached at