A Father's Mission (or, The Quest for the Unlined Notebook)

Well, it's official - I'm running out of notebooks. I was writing some lyrics in my songbook today and realized that I only had a couple pages left. So I searched my room for a suitable notebook that might serve as my second songbook once this one was finished. Zip, zero, nada. I knocked on my sister's door, asking if she had anything that would be remotely useful.


Finally, I hit upon an idea - my father! He is the slightly crazy but very lovable genius of the family; constantly losing everything his hands have the misfortune of touching, he has taken to purchasing large quantities of anything and everything he might need. Surely he would have a notebook for me?

I wandered into my father's study and found him hunched over his computer, his eyes glued to the screen as if the fate of the universe depended on the email he was meticulously typing out, stopping at every sentence, and going back and erasing to re-write each word at least 27 times.

After calling his name, waving my hand in front of his face, snapping my fingers in front of his eyes, dumping a bucket of water over his head, and playing my sister's favorite metal rock CD on full volume - loud enough that the neighbors started banging on the wall - my father looked up. "Hm? Honey, did you say something?" he murmured absentmindedly.

Before his eyes could meander back to the computer screen, I interjected, asking whether he had any spare unlined notebooks on hand. His eyes lighting up, he twisted his six-foot tall frame and began to rummage through the depths of his all-purpose cabinet. After a few moments, he emerged and - voila! - produced a stack of fresh, new, unopened, bursting-with-promise notebooks... which happened to be lined. He beamed at me proudly, holding them out to me and waiting for me to gush my gratitude.

Now, dear readers, you must understand how important unlined notebooks are to me. I don't think well inside lines. Notebooks are my outlet, and I need white blankness to be artistic. Notebooks without lines are rare creative gems. Lined ones are just not up to the job.

So I clarified my request: "Dad, weren't you listening? I asked for an unlined notebook."

My father's brow furrowed and he turned back to his cabinet. He carelessly flung the rejected notebooks into my arms, stuck his head into the cabinet, and began pulling out all manner of odds and ends, including but not limited to - a red ballpoint pen, a Javanese paperweight, a myriad of hastily scribbled and water-stained post-it notes, a coffee cup still half-full of a stale brew, a book he had been planning to give my mother for her birthday (which was four months ago), my dog's favorite chew toy, and a moldy tuna sandwich.

By this time, my father had virtually disappeared into the depths of his cavernous cabinet, although how he had managed to fit his gargantuan figure into it I could not comprehend. Finally he re-emerged, his glasses askew and his once spotless white shirt speckled with dust.

He scratched his neck and looked at me awkwardly. "Could be difficult."

At this point I would have been happy to escape to my room with all body parts still intact, my notebook quest forgotten. So I nodded, feigning disappointment, and scrambled towards the door...

... crashing right into the storm cloud that is my mother. She and my father were apparently meant to be going out for dinner, and what was taking him so long to get ready?! Couldn't his emails wait? And what had he done to his nice shirt? That shirt had just been dry-cleaned, and it wasn't as if she had all the time in the world to take it down to the dry-cleaners again, now did she? All she wanted was a nice dinner with him, and now their table was going to be given to someone else, and...

As my father shrunk into himself, meekly apologizing and kissing my mother in a vain attempt to pacify her, I slunk out of the study, relieved that I had managed to escape her wrath.

As I reached my room and flopped onto the bed, exhausted by my long ordeal, the notebook at the bottom of the stack my father had originally given to me fell open. My eyes wandered towards it. Then they caught on it, and my mouth fell open.

The notebook was unlined.

And the rest, as they say, is history.