When Avril Lavigne’s first album


came out, lyrics websites weren’t quite a thing yet, so when I needed a printout of the lyrics to “Things I’ll Never Say” for a basketball banquet (not sure why) I bit the bullet and typed them out myself.

The process went long into the night — it was a lot of hitting play, pressing pause, and typing frantically into a Word document — and when I was done I printed the thing out and left it on the desk by accident.

The next morning, my father knocked on my bedroom door with a cup of coffee and the sheet of lyrics in his hand.

“I found your, uh, poem here,” he’d said, leaning on the doorframe and holding the lyrics out to me.

“Oh, thanks.” I hadn’t bothered to put the title or “by Avril Lavigne” anywhere, but I was in a hurry to catch the bus so I wasn’t really listening when he attributed the authorship to me. Under normal circumstances this would have been fine, since I was always writing weird things on the computer and printing them out — always an odd love poem about a friend’s older brother or a piece of short fiction with an angsty female protagonist saved to the Desktop — but little did I know that I’d made a typo. Somewhere in the transcription process, my ears had taken the romantic line, “I wanna see you go down on one knee,” and Frankensteined it into, “I wanna see you go down on me.”

When my dad held the paper out, I took it from him and went back to fumbling with my backpack. He stood there watching me for a while, and before he turned to leave he paused with his hand on the doorknob and said, “Do you, uh… do you know what it means to go down on someone?”

It’s a surprising question to hear from your father in any context, but especially at 6:30 AM on a Monday. I kind of frowned at him, but didn’t make the connection between his question and the lyrics, so I replied with a cool, “Yeah, I do. Why?”

“Oh. Just making sure.” And then he looked at his fourteen year old daughter, praying that she’d show any signs of humility or embarrassment, and said, “Cause it’s in that — uh — that poem you have there.”

Again, not realizing that he thought I was the author, I simply said, “I know,” and shoved the paper in my backpack before breezing out the door and down the driveway to catch the school bus.

In retrospect I realized what had happened, but I was always a little too mortified to ever set the record straight. Years passed and I’m sure he’s forgotten it by now, but sometimes I remember that story and laugh.

Because, for all the white middle class self-masturbatory weeping I’m inclined to participate in, my parents have always been oddly okay with me writing. Like, the most conservative man I know was disturbed to discover, but ultimately allowed and supported, what he thought was his fourteen year old daughter’s poem about wanting to get eaten out. That’s love.