Welcome to the World, Young Mr. Howell

Dear, Son —

You’re only three days old and you’re already making the news. Bravo. So long as you keep yourself out of the police blotter, you might be onto something. Also, you should know that, given my particular deadline, these words are actually being written on the eve of your birth. Admittedly, it’s peculiar writing a column dedicated to someone one hasn’t met, who can’t read anyway, not least of which because he has yet to be born. But alas, if your mother can carry you in utero for nine months, I can certainly string a few hundred words of passable English together to salute your arrival.

Welcome to the World. Your mother and I are very pleased you could make it and look forward to many fine years being your parents. Or more accurately, we look forward to spending the rest of our years being your parents. It’s the least we could do seeing as you’ve already brought much joy into our lives. Albeit, this is being written before the dirty diapers, sleepless nights and general chaos and anxiety sure to characterize our first forays into the world together. But, alas, I’m sure you’re worth it. And if you’re not, keep it to yourself, kid, we’ll never know.

So here’s the deal, given your mother’s Italian good looks, I’ve long referred to her in my columns as The Contessa. In point of fact, I proposed to her in a column and the answer was “yes,” for which you and I should both be grateful (you can thank her later after you learn how to talk — no rush). Anyway, at present writing, your mother and I don’t have a name for you. To wit, I’ve chosen a nickname suitable to the purposes of print that keeps within our family’s Mediterranean theme. The Cannoli. Yes, like the pastry. Consider yourself lucky, Cannoli — if playgrounds are anything like I remember them, you will eventually acquire a whole slew of nicknames distinctly unsuitable for the purposes of print. Moreover, when your mother and I do find a name for you, please keep in mind, it’s merely our name for you. You can always change it when you’re of age. This, you will learn, is something of a family tradition. If I may offer some fatherly advice here — do not change your name until after your teens, which is when one is most susceptible to arty pretensions and make sure it’s easily pronounced and can be spelled without a diphthong.

In the meantime, you’re the Cannoli. You are also the apotheosis of a rather peculiar adventure I’ve been on the past several years. An adventure I realized finally is called “growing up.” I can’t say I’ve mastered every move and God knows it took me long enough to get this far, but alas here we are. I’ll tell you everything I know and even what I don’t. And someday I hope you look back say “My old man did alright.” You see, I can’t make you a man, but I know you’ve helped make me one. Strange, isn’t it? Just you wait, Cannoli.

I cannot account for the tremendous luck that has brought me to this point and that has brought you to us, but you’re proof to me that for all its harrowing mystery the universe will sometimes play to one’s favor. Bear with me. As a writer, I know how failure prone words can be, so these too will undoubtedly fall somehow short, but suffice it to say, I love you more than either of us can know.

About Daedalus Howell

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