You may or may not know who Paul Shirley is. Here is what I know about the guy:
–He played college basketball for an Iowa State team that, in the 2001 NCAA basketball tournament, became one of the first No. 2 seeds in tourney history to lose to a No. 15 seed.
–He wrote an excellent, and hilarious book called “Can I Keep My Jersey? 11 Teams, 5 Countries, and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond” about his experiences playing for professional basketball teams such as the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, the CBA’s Kansas City Knights and something in Russia called UNICS Kazan that he might wish to forget.
–He and I are Facebook friends.
Another thing I know about Paul is that since 2009, he has run a website for writers called FlipCollective, where he and other writers post essays that are often humorous, insightful and of a personal nature. Subjects include just about everything from current events to pop culture to sports. The writing is irreverent and honest. Each writer’s work is also edited by another FlipCollective writer prior to publication.
Paul and several FlipCollective writers have also recently launched Machine Wash Warm, FlipCollective’s first e-magazine. You can, and should buy a copy of it here. The writing is very good and besides, it’s only a buck.
And while would be willing to pimp or shill for FlipCollective and Machine Wash Warm anyway, I am bringing it up in particular because of one story that hits straight to the heart of what it feels like to be a dad with young daughters and dread the day when you know your little angel is going to bring a boyfriend home for the first time.
The story, by Mick Shaffer, is called “Dear Steve” and I don’t think I have ever read anything so funny, and yet so prophetic about what I will be thinking about years down the road when one of those adorable little boys in my daughters’ daycare finally screws up enough courage to ask out one of my princesses. I fear for him, because I know him already and know what is really at work behind his one-day earnest face.
At the time he wrote this piece, Shaffer’s daughter was just five months old. But Shaffer, who is a TV anchor for Metro Sports in Kansas City, refuses to waste any time saving his hate toward the future “Steve” in question:
“One of the reasons for the hostility, Steve, is that I’ve been you. I know your intentions. I know your thoughts. I know what you do with your dad’s Crown Royal bag. I was you 20 years ago. And back then, my adolescent sex drive had plaid and bangs and the goddamned Grunge Era to battle through. These days, girls air-brush on their outfits. By the time you’re a teenager, I’m expecting high school hallways to look like amateur Youporn studios. Just know that my daughter will be leaving the house wearing a refrigerator box every day. Good luck fantasizing through prefabricated cardboard, Steve.”
Any dad with daughters has thought the exact same thing. In fact, I’ve begun looking for cardboard boxes for my daughters, Maddo and Little Sis, to wear to daycare right now.
There’s more than that from Shaffer, Shirley and the other FlipCollective writers contributing to the Machine Wash Warm. It only costs $1, but it’s worth much more.