As my three-month-old daughter, Chloê, sleeps in the solarium, her soft head gently nestled in the crook of my neck, I realize there’s so much she has yet to understand about her future. She’s far too young to understand that one day, she too will be kidnapped by a wild-eyed ex-con, but still I have the urge to whisper it into her soft downy hair: Chloê you will one day be kidnapped by a wild-eyed ex-con whose name is something creepy like Carl.
I kiss her head and rock her gently, but deep down I know she doesn’t understand. Baby girls can’t yet absorb the crushing, inevitable truth that they will be kidnapped by a wild-eyed ex-con who drives a white Ford E-150. As a mother, I want to prepare my daughter for this inevitable moment in her life in the ways I wasn’t, but lately I’ve found myself worrying that Carl will come for me before she’s old enough to understand. In this extremely likely event, I’d like to lay it all out for her, so that she will have the knowledge she needs about it for when her time comes.
1. You are absolutely going to be kidnapped.
It breaks my heart to say this, but there is no escaping the reality that you will be abducted by a wild-eyed van-driving ex-con. Every girl must face this cold hard fact. It’s fate, Chloê. The world is full of Carls, and they’re just waiting for the right innocent captive. The less time you spend fighting this fact, the better prepared you’ll be to do things like drink your urine and fend off rats by communicating with them. There is a horrific basement in your future, Chloê and there’s nothing I can do to stop that.
2. You can only drink your urine seven times before you ruin your kidneys.
I know you’ll be thirsty down there in that basement dungeon, right next to the radiator, but you’re going to need your kidneys to filter out all the dastardly medical concoctions force-fed to you by a wild-eyed van-driving disgraced-former-surgeon ex-con named Carl who over the course of several years has been removing and eating the flesh from his right forearm. It’s just an unfortunate part of being a woman. Is it fair? No. But life’s not fair, Chloê. It would be a failure of motherhood for me to leave you with any other impression of the world.
3. The odds of getting a book deal are high.
In the unlikely event that you escape that moldy, unfinished cellar alive, the chances of you having a brave tell-all book published that same year are very, very good. The outside world will leap at the chance to hear the gruesome details of your unimaginable torture in the form of a hardcover beach read. You’ll probably have a literary agent before the emergency foil blanket is even off your shoulders. So please, sweet girl, when you’re competing with rats for scraps of Pink Panther insulation to fill your bruised belly, and you feel your resolve start to wither, let this be your mantra: “Book deal. Book deal. Book deal.” If there’s one silver lining to being abducted and held against your will by a wild-eyed van-driving disgraced-former-surgeon autophagic ex-con named Carl who has an eyelid tattoo of his own eyeballs, it’ll come in the form of a salacious memoir. Hold tight. Be strong. Book deal.
4. The odds of being rescued are slim, but you’ll be the queen of HLN.
You are white, dear daughter. And if luck holds out, your hair will stay blonde and your eyes will stay blue. These features would look perfect on the cover of People Magazine for the issue that celebrates your wedding to a sweet Mormon boy, but we both know that probably will never happen. What most likely will happen is a fevered but fruitless search by concerned citizens, local police, state troopers, and the FBI that ends 20 years later at a crude mound on the outskirts of town. As a mother, this inevitability breaks my heart. But knowing that your angelic face will flood the television sets of middle-aged women across the nation is solace enough. HLN will have a 24-hour ticker underneath all its programming to announce live updates on the latest conjecture about your abduction. People will see the tabloids in the checkout line at Shoprite, and there will even be a year where I am suspected of kidnapping you. (This theory will be abandoned after that because most likely, I, too, will be kidnapped and held captive in a separate, sadder basement). At long last, your sweet bones will be laid to rest in a gorgeous ceremony, presided over by the Rev. Nancy Grace. Although you are absolutely going to be kidnapped and held in a basement by a wild-eyed ex-con named Carl who probably masturbates to the sound of squirrels dying, know that before you’re flayed and buried alive, you did spend three months trending on Twitter. Know this, dear child, and smile.
5. You kinda get used to it after a while.
Truth be told, the nonstop psychosexual torture becomes old hat after the third or fourth year. I’m not saying it’ll be pleasant, my girl, but you will approach a sort of boredom with the whole ordeal. Soon, you and the rats will run out of things to chat about, and you’ll tire of the usual wall-clawing and scream-crying. Your best bet is that one day, the near-constant rapes will produce your own sweet daughter. And then, when you hold her in your one remaining arm, you can start planning how to teach her to prepare for her own kidnapping by a different wild-eyed van-driving disgraced-former-surgeon autophagic lid-tatted squirrel-death-cry-masturbating ex-con named Carl who probably lives right down the block.
This, my daughter, is my wish for you. But for now, I hold your warm tiny self in our solarium, breathe in your intoxicating baby scent, and kick the floor for our basement prisoner to shut the fuck up.