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"That's so cool," she says. "Does she drive?"
"Yes," Lyle says.
"See," she says to her dad. "Sixteen. That's when I get your car and I'll drive to Denver and go to clubs and I'll be all, check this out."
"She drives," Lyle says, "but I get scared thinking about her on these roads. I get scared for her life."
Jeff nods. "See."
"You're not scared for my life."
"I am," Jeff says, a statement that seems to surprise him. "Now cut the chitchat. Observe. Learn."
Candace is quiet and he kind of wished she would bother him more, ask him questions about Izz, her life at sixteen. Lyle tries to remember sixteen, an age where life seemed to take you by the hand and show you all the new cool shit you could start doing. At sixteen he had had sex, but he won't let Izz know that. He tries to see how her having sex is a natural thing, but thinks back to his boyhood, his first dabblings in sexuality — the numerous shower ejaculations picturing Rhonda Geldern in a cashmere bathing suit, and then the other first experiences involving real girls. He remembers Tabitha Clifford touching him in her hot tub (too hot, scalding), and touching her, her vagina, in her backyard tee-pee (primitive, spiritual), and then she gave him head on a chairlift because she was saving herself (he had loved the way she saved herself). Good god. If he was sixteen, then Tabitha had been sixteen, too. But parts of it were so innocent. He remembers sneaking out of his house and walking miles to see her, sometimes just to fall asleep next to her and wake up at dawn to walk home. Perhaps it is natural and lovely: first sex, sex at sixteen. But then it stops. As a high school senior he had the audacity to ask Katie Birch for a blowjob. In college, girls said things like "harder" or worse, "I'm coming!" as if he were a departing bus. Some asked to be slapped. One asked him to put his penis (cock, she called it) in her ass! Margaret Waters of all people! When they were children she had told him to put his ear to the ground and listen for the sounds of hell and now she was asking for a cock in her ass.
The women became like men in their desire. The penis became something to divulge, to handle, whereas when he first began his sexual explorations the penis was kept under wraps, left to throb under his clothes like a red zit — something both parties knew about yet tried their best to ignore.
Jeff closes his laptop and looks at his watch. "Done," he says. "Okay. Meeting. Same old. We need to come up with a name for the advanced terrain. We threw out some ideas. Leaning toward, 'Living Daylights.' Now we need a catch phrase."
"Be All You Can Be," Candace says.
"Where's your head?" Jeff yells. "Be All You Can Be. Come on. It's got to say something about the outdoors. The extreme outdoors. We have to sell the idea of freedom, of exclusive, outdoor, extreme freedom. Something like, Get Outside! Be Extremely Free!"
"That is so tarded," Candace says.
Lyle nods in agreement and Candace smiles at him, spastically.
"What about, 'Don't be a bore. Get outdoors,'" she says.
Jeff doesn't even bother to respond and Lyle just smiles at her. She blows a bubble with her gum and the clear pink ball makes him nostalgic and incredibly sad. He's sad when he sees this young girl. His daughter seems to be bypassing the early sweet stages entirely, and heading right for the sewage, yet how can he guide her back to the beginning of sexual experience. How can he say, "Here, try this first. Fall asleep in his arms. Every now and then you'll wake up at the same time and you'll kiss and fool around and then you'll fall back to sleep again and it will feel good," but how does a father tell a daughter this? He doesn't. He grounds her. He makes her feel ashamed.
He tries to see what Candace is writing and he sees the words, "No fear" and "I want to go higher."
"I got it," Candace says. "Living Daylights: Scare the Shit out of Yourself Before the Altitude Does."
"You can't swear in the copy. Christ." Jeff looks at Lyle and gestures to his daughter. "You believe this?"
"Actually," Lyle says, wanting to make Candace feel good. "You're on the right track. It has to be bold. Clean, but bold."
She looks at her father and smirks. She swings her legs from the chair. They don't reach the ground. "So, this is what you guys do all day?"
"We do other things," Jeff says.