27 June 2009

Home alone

Saturday, 27 June 2009

It was a long and busy week up in NJ. Both Jessy and I have worked almost every shift at the ice-cream parlour since we got up there. We don't take a salary-- it's the family's business, and June is usually a pretty rough start on the season, with most of the girls not knowing what their schedules will be and when they're actually able to be done with school and all. Wednesday we had off completely, and spent the day on the beach with little Lisa. Thursday we were on the the morning, and then Daddy had promised to drive the two of us over to Tuckerton in the jet boat for lunch at Stewart's root beer which is right on the water at the seaport museum there. That was a nice time. The jet boat is blindingly fast, if the water is flat, which it was. I think Daddy said we hit 65 MPH. That feels like about twice that when it's on the water. Jessy and I sat in back by the roar of the motor and squealed like blonde bimbos. Daddy laughed.

We worked Thursday night and then Friday morning, and finally I begged out of one shift in order to see Stephen. Friday evening Roger arrived and drove me down in the dark-green Cadillac to Terncote, where I got dressed in something nice (blue paisley dress and heels) before Stephen showed up to take me to dinner. I felt very elegant, the acting lady of the house when he arrived. I had never been so fully alone here-- the other times my parents and siblings have been absent from home but close by-- now they were over 4 hours' drive away! But, no worries-- it's all proper between us. Stephen just took my hand and handed me into the car and we went out to the nice place on the water in Onancock, where we toasted ourselves on a kind of reunion.

I got in at about 11.00 after a very pleasant walk along the waterfront (I shall not say more!). I just undressed, washed up, and ended up on the computer till late. This morning I awoke rather late and decided I would not care. Daddy rang at about noon, asked how my date had gone, and then wanted to know when I would be back. I felt completely indolent and asked if I could stay on here another day and come back up after church tomorrow.
'Well, I don't see why not,' he said, 'if you really feel like being alone.'

I laughed. 'Well, you know me, Daddy... I'm just doing nothing.'

'Hmmm,' he said. 'As long as there's not something you're not telling me.'

I thought for a moment and realised what he probably meant. 'Daddy! But I tell you everything.'

'All right,' he said.

'Really, I do. Stephen dropped me at the door and we said our goodnights--' I said no more about that-- 'and he made sure I got into the house and left. And I called him when I knew the house was safe. That's all.'

He hesitated on the phone. 'Are you going out today too?'

'Um, no. He's working... and then supposed to go bowling with his people.'

'Oh. So, what will you do today then?'

I shrugged. 'Probably lie out back. I do want to clean my bathroom. I will clean Jessy's too, if I'm not a total mess. That's about it.'

'All right. Your mother wants someone to look in on the geraniums. You might weed a little back there too. You'll be out in the sun, and....'

'Yes, Daddy. All right. I will do that.'

'Keep to the house and the garden,' he told me. 'Call us if you're going out and when you get back. I don't want to not hear from you today.'

I smiled. 'Yes, Daddy.'

So I did clean my bathroom, I did get to be a total mess, and I crawled-- actually crawled-- from mine out my door and across the hall to the one Jessy and Lisa use and I did theirs too. Usually I clean my bathroom before I get dressed, often in connection with having a shower, like on a weekend. It's a messy job and some cleaners can damage clothing dyes, you know. By the time I was done with that I smelled of Lysol and my hands were all dried out and I still had not had a shower, so I rinsed out all the cleaning stuff and left the bathroom fans on and windows open, and I went down stairs and dove right into the pool. And I did about twelve laps and then lolled in the corner of the pool staring up at the sun till I decided I had better put on sunblock.

I lay in the chaise at the side of the house for about two hours. This is extraordinarily long for me-- I had on SPF 45 and kept turning over, but I really do think I got unusually dark today. Daddy had said to keep to the garden, but it becomes hot there inside the surrounding wall and the sun reflection off green grass is always cooler than that off paving blocks and potting soil. There is a 'fringe', as we call it, of tall untended grass about five yards wide separating the lawn from the salt marsh of the bay, and it grows tall enough that boaters really can't see us lying in the chaises here. So it's safe enough. However I did hear a peculiarly smooth engine drone approaching. The sound of a boat approaching usually waves with the water-- it's never a single steady tone. I opened my eyes and there, coming right down the edge of the bay, was a high-winged airplane. I had my hand over my eyes against the sun and there was no chance to cover myself... so apparently I was a vision for the pilot and his passengers down here on the chaise as they flew right over me at about 60 MPH and about 250 feet up. Oh, well.

When I got up I had another dip in the pool and then went in for tea. I really have done nothing much of anything at all-- definitely have not weeded or swept out back and definitely don't want to now. I will go to church in the morning-- in the Regal-- and drive up by myself to the ferry at Lewes. I really should stop in at the old house but I am supposedly working at the parlour at 7 and would like to get there early. Also, I miss Jessy. All that remains is to find a good book to read on the ferry ride-- I have read pretty much everything in this room already....

17 June 2009

An invited guest

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

It is morning-I am up. I must be going for a record-- I have not had on a stitch (not counting shoes) since Sunday afternoon... that's what? --two and a half days, and will be three and a half by tomorrow. It's just been too pleasant. And Daddy is still away-- Mother got a call from him last night that he had driven down to the house in Lewes last night to pick up things for the boat and drove right back up to his brother's house in NJ. He asked if Jessy or I wanted to come along and I think at least I was in bed by then and Mother said we were just having too nice a time here to be disturbed. I am sure he knew what that meant.

Mother is full of happy thoughts and happy comments and cute little smiles, as though she likes being queen of a house full of naked girls. Yesterday she was in a bikini all day-- her blue-and-white striped one. She honestly looks about 20 in a bikini. (She's 27 and has had two babies.) Together we have all been gardening, raking, sweeping, even doing a bit of painting like round beyond the garage. Little J.J. (age 3-1/2) is the only male-- and may I say the only one of us who doesn't work. He's built a sand village in the side yard, bordered by the tall grass along the water, the tall grass and shrubs along the preserve, the garage and the garden wall. It's probably fifty feet on a side and is pretty well planned-- there are a few houses (stacks of bricks) and roads between them all and the place is cluttered with trucks and cars. Lisa and Jessy sometimes go over there and help him. He is grateful for the help, rather like a young king (or prince in this case) newly proud of his own domains. No one challenges his authority over Sandtown and so he remains placated.

The surprise this week is that Jessy's friend Josie came over. Mother of course for the door, having put on her cover-up shirt, and gave Josie fair warning. 'Oh,' Josie said, 'well if she doesn't mind--!'

Jessy appeared on the mezzanine above her-- naked of course. 'Come on up!' she said-- and thus the situation was resolved. Next I saw of them they were both skipping-- I mean really SKIPPING-- out the back door, and I went out with Lisa later and joined them. So Josie has become the very first one of our friends to take up with us as we are. I expected her to be concerned about sunburn but she was actually not very white at all. --hmm! Wonder why? We were all very clinical with each other as far as sharing the sun lotion and had a very pleasant afternoon together. Mother rang her little bell for tea on the terraces and we all attended-- four of us this time-- none of us dressed at all. Mother had this sly little smile on the whole time. She secretly envies us, but she won't indulge it herself. I'm sure she thinks it is not her place. So she only encourages us in our indulgence instead.

Many people have asked me about that and have said it is odd that our parents do not do as we do. I am sure they have their own reasons for asking. I am sure too that many of them do not believe it is how it is for us. But our parents are very proper and responsible. I'm not saying other people's aren't-- though that may be true-- but our parents do not have a need to indulge every little whim that pops into their heads without caring about the consequences. In fact you could say that caring about the consequences is exactly what both my parents do best. Daddy teaches us that we are girls and ladies first, and one should never burden or obligate a lady. If he does not know how we would take to his being naked with us, he will not insist that we do, and of course he would be concerned about how we would come to accept all men based on his example (and I mean in terms of behaviour). And anyway he has no need or desire to be naked like we are.

Mother is something else entirely, a perfectly beautiful young woman with needs and desires not much different than those Jessy and I have. The difference is of course that she is married. She feels awkward revealing too much of herself after she has been 'known' (for lack of a better word) by our father. She considers that inappropriate. And of course, as in the Bible, a parent should not be naked in front of her own child, in this case Lisa and J.J. It's just a little awkward thinking that the children can see where they came from! Of course in the case of Jessy and me, those two conditions do not exist-- we are still 'children' in every good sense of the word and at least in one way our bodies can have no effect on the rest of our family. (I do have a suspicion-- perhaps more than a mere suspicion-- that Mother is much less prudish in private with our father, but I really think that shouldn't be something I think about or discuss too often. They are happy as they are and that's all that should matter to a child or stepchild.)

As for Josie... well I shall say that she has taken to it very easily. She and Jessy disappeared into her room, the door was not even fully closed, as we all knew who was in the house at the time, and not five minutes later the two of them emerged, giggling quietly, and trotted down the stairs to the big parlour. In another moment I had looked out my window and seen them going through the garden for the side yard. Jessy even remembered to bring the other chaise for Josie. That meant they expected me to join them... so I did. We sunned and swam and sunned and swam some more all afternoon. By tea-time Josie was as at-ease as we ever are, not even flinching when she saw Mother bringing the tea things to the terrace. 'How are you girls enjoying the day?' Mother asked us all.

'It's lovely,' Jessy said. 'Are there biscuits?'

Mother set down the tray as we all drew out chairs. 'There are, but I was going to heat them up first.'

'Heat them up?' wondered Jessy.

'Well, it's not too hot,' Mother said. 'But you girls have had nothing but sun over there.'

We all agreed the biscuits did not have to be heated up and took our places. Mother returned with the biscuits on a tray and leaned in to set them down. Josie looked up then. 'Thank you, Mrs C--,' she said sweetly.

Mother smiled right back at her. 'You are very welcome, Josie. Do you girls mind if J.J. and I join you?'

I saw Josie glance at me then. Jessy did not hesitate. 'Mother! Do you have to ask?'

Mother giggled and turned to get the other chair. Then we all six of us were seated under the umbrella having (hot) tea and biscuits, chatting about our impressions of the day.

Josie would have to go home for dinner. Very reluctantly she moped up stairs after Jessy. They were up there till Josie's mother pulled in to the front yard. Mother called up to remind them. In her cute shorts and tank-top Josie hurried out along the front gallery and down the stairs, Jessy following her naked, and in the foyer they said good-byes. I said mine from the mezzanine. Mother, in her blue-and-white bikini and cover-up shirt, stepped in at the last moment. 'I'll get that,' she said, and interposed herself between Jessy and the front door. That was a good thing-- Jessy might have got it herself, and what would Josie's mother have thought then?

Mother waved cheerfully out the front door as Josie got in to the car with her mother and they drove away. The electric gate closed. Then she shut the door. 'Well, you two had quite a day,' she said wryly at us.

Jessy only shrugged and turned to come up stairs. 'It was nice that she came over. I did invite her, you know.'

Mother smiled. 'I'm sure.'

Jessy stopped halfway up the stairs. 'Is it all right if she comes over tomorrow?'

Mother made that face again. 'Have you already invited her?'

I did not see but Jessy must have nodded then.

'Very well. Your father comes home tomorrow night or Friday. Just so you know, now.'

'Yes, Mother, of course.' And she started up the stairs again. Later in the evening I happened to pop in her room and she was sitting in her bed with her knees up and the laptop propped on her legs, typing furiously. Seeing me she looked up, and then I could guess the content of her typing. 'Do you think the rest of the club would ever.--? You know.'

I laughed. 'Do you really think they should?'

She shrugged. 'We have to have a pool party before we go,' she said. 'It has to be Friday, when he gets here with the boat.'

I nodded. 'I think we had better not. Not this soon.'

She nodded at once as though that was a perfectly reasonable response, and then she typed more, as furiously as ever. She attacks the keyboard, not hard, but so quickly you swear the picture's running in fast-motion. 'Josie agrees,' she said after a moment. 'But she's looking forward to coming over again.'

I smiled. 'She's always welcome,' I said. 'Just be careful whom you extend invitations to.'

She nodded, typing again. 'I'll always ask Mother first, you know.' Then she looked up. 'And you.'


She typed and then looked up again. 'You know best,' she said. 'And you know me-- I would be like this all the time.'

I giggled. I am sure she would-- and thank God there were no boys there, for her pose was certainly too immodest to have kept them them at bay! But Jessy is like that-- she always feels she has nothing to hide. And so I am glad she consults me. In a way I am her protector, and that makes me happy to be so trusted. There is nothing in the world that could make me betray her trust in me.


16 June 2009

YG Naked at home

Monday, 15 June 2009

I stayed up VERY late last night and got up late today... about 10.30. Normally I am up by 8.00 on any day I have off. For school I have been getting up at 6.15... but that's over with for a whole three months! In England at HOH we had only about 6 weeks. So this is one reason to be happy I am back in America.

I did not have a shower, just washed up and sauntered down stairs without putting on anything. No one seemed to be about. Daddy has gone up to NJ to get the boat ready to bring down and Mother was out in the yard with little J.J. I sat at the table and fixed a (very small) dish of Special K and then carried it out to the side deck off the kitchen. There under the umbrella I sat savouring the sunny day. I was nearly done when on the gentle southerly breeze two familiar, happy voices. I looked up over the railing. Jessy and Lisa were coming along the path through the tall grass and the shrubs from the softball field.

At once I envied them. They had got up well before I had and had been having a pleasantly childlike romp round the yard and lawn and the empty field adjacent to our house and the softball field beyond. It had been too early for anyone to have come down the road and the farmer south of us has not come up this far yet this season. They'd had the whole two dozen acres to themselves.

Lisa looked up and saw me from the yard. 'Hi,' she called.

'Hi, yourself,' I said. 'What are you two up to?'

Lisa shrugged, that cute gesture she makes so theatrically, lifting and letting go her whole body. In the next second she saw a rabbit and turned to follow it across the gravel towards the bushes. Jessy stopped in the very centre of the yard, standing there staring up at me, hands at her sides, hair loose, like Lisa completely unadorned. 'Coming down?' she asked in a soft voice.

I nodded and stood up with the empty dish. 'Let me put this away. I'll join you out back.'

She nodded and then absently turned left, towards the front of the house, and wandered off. Expecting where she would be I went out the front door, pulling it closed securely behind me. Directly before me was the driveway and the gate in the 7-ft wall and then the lane leading straight on to the road. There was no traffic out there. The houses in the little development the other side of our wall were quiet. Above, the sun was brilliant and hot, and the air inside the privacy wall was stiff and humid. We've had so much rain, off and on, that it never lifts. It's like a sauna.

I stepped down the steps to the gravel and crossed to the edge of the lawn. Jessy shuffled round the south side of the house, on the grass to spare her bare feet. Then Lisa galloped out from beyond her, going over the driveway and out across the lawn like a little pixie revelling in the freedom of being as-one with nature. I smiled at her. I knew what she felt like. I felt like that too.

Jessy approached, swaying gracefully as a lazy lioness. The breeze caught her hair and blew it up the back of her head. In that one moment it looked like a mane. I may have said this before but Jessy is a Leo, the one noted for sweet tenderness and unlimited generosity and yet also a tendency to pamper herself, to be a little self-indulgent, and hardly ever is that more obvious than when she is naked. Sometimes I imagine that she, much more than I, could be completely comfortable showing up at school in perhaps her high-heeled gold sandals and a long royal-blue silk cape, and nothing else, and be perfectly comfortable like that. Everyone would stare, of course, the boys would absolutely lose control, and yet she would remain above it all, serene and stately as a princess and entirely comfortable with being the centre of attention. The most beautiful thing about Jessy is that if she were ever able to actually do that, it wouldn't seem naughty at all. With her it is not sexual-- she's not trying to 'exert her sexuality' as someone has suggested. She's too innocent for that. I don't mean she is innocent in that she is naive-- she is somewhat naive, because there is so much she knows nothing about-- but that she is just not guilty. A naughty mind would read something sexual or egotistical in nearly everything she does, but that would be an inaccurate and inappropriate assumption. And if you assumed that you would look like a fool. Jessy would level eyes at you and make a childish little smirk and then turn aside, lifting her chin to see something much nicer that's farther above you. To her she's only being herself. And though she is complex in some ways, in other ways she is much simpler than most people assume. If she's naked, she wants to be naked. She likes it, she's comfortable, it's just something she felt like doing for her own reasons. That's all there is to it. Read more into it than that, assume it's just her secret desire to be taken down and ravaged, assume, worst of all, that she wants YOU to do that, and you'll be dead wrong. And it'll be a dead cert you'll never get the least piece of her, in any way at all.

Lisa bounded across the lawn, running straight past the gate without even a glance to see if anyone might have been coming up the lane. She squealed and suddenly pirouetted on her toes, but she was going too fast and spun round to land on her bottom in the grass. 'You twit!' I laughed out loud.

She giggled, rolling right over onto her tummy and then, with all the aplomb in the world, put down her elbow and propped her chin in her hand to look at us. 'Let's lie out right here!'

I laughed. 'Right there in the grass?'

'Yes!' She rolled over and returned to the exact same position about three feet away. 'It's like carpet.'

'No, thank you,' Jessy said, and we were strolling off the driveway and out across the lawn towards the other end of the house. 'I'll take my towel and chair, thank you.'

Lisa would not be left behind. 'Okay.'

Round the north side of the house our two chaises still rested, just outside the shade of the trees along the edge of the property. Lisa ran pst us and up the steps to the garden to bring back another chair for herself. But she never lies still for long. She's another Leo, impetuous, sweet-natured, eager to DO anything. But she has learnt from Jessy and me and has been gradually growing into manners and restraint. Maybe even more than Jessy she will be a proper princess, the 'triple threat' as Mother has called it, beautiful, intelligent and virtuous all at once. In about ten or twelve years boys will be seeking dragons to slay just to earn her good favour.

And what about me? I never say much about myself. I really don't feel comfortable saying I am generous, or sweet-natured, or innocent-- though I'm sure I am all those things. And it is true that, though I've always felt refreshingly stimulated by being naked, it wasn't till we moved to this house last summer and Jessy dared me to dive into the pool with her that I thought about sauntering round the house naked like this. Now it's nearly second nature-- I mean really, because sometimes I will descend for supper or turn to open the front door for visitors and forget I should have something on. I really am very comfortable like this, and I find it sad that no one else except my own family would ever appreciate it as I do. Even Stephen, who is a very, very good sort of guy, would have to yield to his baser nature. Maybe it is true what people tell me, that any guy would. And so maybe it is best that we three little princesses remain as we do, pure and protected inside our privacy wall, in our faery-tale castle by the sea. We just won't survive in the so-called real world.

It's 9.00 in the evening and I haven't got had on a thing all day. After a lovely afternoon of picking flowers, sweeping the garden walks, swimming in the pool, and lying out-- plenty of that-- we had supper together. Since Daddy was not home Mother did not make us get dressed and so only she and little J.J. had anything on at all. After little J.J.'s bath we are all going to watch 'Harry Potter' down stairs. If the weather is nice tomorrow I hope to do the same thing. It's true all good things must have an end-- Jessy and I must report to the ice-cream parlour before the weekend but we wouldn't have been able to do this next week anyway. For now we shall savour it as much as we can.


08 June 2009

Janine accepts her dare

Monday, 8 June 2009

I got up at about 8.30, went in and took my chem final, and rode home with Jessy at 12.10. Stephen was working all afternoon-- which was just as well. I lay out back with Jessy for a while and I actually had a bit of a nap, but the Bugs would be coming over to the field by 3.30 and I had to get dressed and make my appearance.

The Ladybugs, if you haven't read, are the 8-9-10-yr-old softball team that Daddy founded and endowed with a gorgeous new stadium and workout facility in the section of land adjacent to our home. In keeping with the castle architecture of our house the stadium has permanent seating, three rows about 50 feet long with workout rooms and a snack bar and toilets and showers underneath. In the centre just to one side of the backstop is a two-storey tower similar to the ones on our house. So the stadium is called Castle Field.

Two months ago when this team started we were all joking round in our beautiful new locker room and I said, mostly teasing, that I had got a bikini swimsuit in red with white polkadots that sort of matches the Ladybugs' uniforms. They girls thought this sounded cute and wanted to see it. So I, typically, opened my mouth and said maybe if we got to the playoffs we would have a practice day on which we could all wear swimsuits and have a pool party at our pool afterwards, and I would wear that one. When I tried it on it sort of required about six weeks of working out on the rowing machine first... but I am down to a decent size and shape now and felt pretty confident of wearing it on the off chance that a brand-new team playing in a brand-new facility actually beat out nine other teams and got to the playoffs.

Well-- we are in the playoffs, with a record of 10 and 6 which is actually second-best in the league. So we will skip the first round and play at home for the second, which if we win we will play at home for the final on Saturday. And-- today I had to wear the red-and-white polkadot bikini to practice.

I did wear sneakers too, of course-- I typically don't wear cleats because as coach it's not my role to take off and run bases. And I wore socks. And I wore a headband, one of the red-and-white ones with the team logo that Mother designed and had made for the players and even to sell to fans in the snack shop. And I put on SPF 30 bug spray. Jessy offered to accompany me and I collected my glove and the keys to the gate and buildings and we walked over.

It's about 200 yards from the side yard to the cleared part of the field, through mostly tall grass that can be laden with bugs in this season. Daddy cleared a path wide enough to drive the tractor mower through. When I came through I saw cars in the parking area. That was about 3.45. Well-- so the parents would see me opening up and greeting the girls in my bikini.

Three of them were already in swimsuits too, and socks and cleats-- a cute combination. Jessy and I threw and caught with several of the girls till Mike and Michelle arrived and we began the practice with a jog round the track. Then we had tight fielding and some batting practice and after 16.30 we divided into two teams of seven, Jessy and each played on one side to make eight each, and we played what turned out to be four full innings of scrimmage. I think that was really a valuable way to prepare for playoffs. Coach Mike kept yelling 'Tighter! Sharper! Harder!' and so on, always trying to get that last 2 or 3 percent of perfection out of everyone. By now we all know the routine. Some of these girls are angelic-- there's like a switch that Coach Mike can turn on in some of them. For example if Amy's pitches are going a little wild he will yell, 'We gotta end this inning, Amy! Turn the strikes on!' And little Amy-- 9 years old-- will nod gravely, adjust the goggles, pull back the hat, wiggle her bottom, and sting the batter with three strikes in a row. It's like that. Mike will gesture with his arm, making some half-underhand throw, at Grace or Gina and the next ball will be snagged cleanly out of the air and slung hard into second and there's a double play no one else could have expected. But Mike, Michelle and I expect it, and we tell the girls that. They're depended-upon, and they know it, and when the pressure rises their commitment level does too. They really are the best kids in the world.

I am so out of practice at actual playing that I was only about on the level of girls half my age, you know. But I got a few good hits including one that ended up as a home run-- over the fence on a bounce-- and felt so easy coming off the bat that I really had to rethink why I gave up playing at all!

By 5.30 we were all pooped. I locked up the place, we formed up in two rows, and I paced in front of them like an army general-- in a bikini-- inspecting the troops. Most of them wanted to giggle. 'All right, you lot,' I said, pretending to be stern, 'I saw some pretty fine practice here today. But do you think it's enough that we practice well? NO. We need to play well. We need to nail these next two games. Thursday and Saturday-- your fate lies in your hands. How will we play it?'

The all looked blankly back at me.

'Huh? Are we going to win these games or what?'

'Yes!' some of them said.

'I didn't hear you....'


'Go, Bugs!' I shouted at them.

'GO BUGS!' And we all broke up giggling.

'Enough of that!' I yelled. 'Ladybugs-- right face!' And they turned, not neatly, but who cared? 'Ladybugs-- forward, march!' And two-by-two all fourteen of them started for the far side of the field where the path was.

Jessy skipped along ahead of them, hopping half-backwards, and cheered, 'Last one to the pool is a sweaty mess!'

And they all squealed and wailed and ran after her.

It's 9.00 and the last of them left half an hour ago. Mother had served up hot dogs and macaroni salad and potato crisps and then pudding. The pool was looking pretty yellow from all the ballfield dirt-- most of these girls had no reluctance about sliding into base in a swimsuit and at least one was torn-- but as Daddy says, 'That's what the chlorine is for.' Lisa and little J.J. joined us till it began to get dark.

We've got another practice tomorrow. I will 'drill' them with pep talk and politeness. Mike and Michelle will keep up their skills. I probably won't wear the red-and-white bikini again-- there were enough photos taken for the team FaceBook site to last me a lifetime! But we all had fun and we are on the way to the end of a terrific season.


04 June 2009

An unwanted phone call

Thursday, 4 June

I arrived home this afternoon to my father standing in the foyer beckoning me with his finger. 'Janine,' he said, not amused. 'Come up here.'

I had just walked into the house and followed him up stairs to his little library on the third floor of the tower, at the back of the house. He sat down at once, turned to the computer, and brought up a .jpg picture of an instant-message conversation I had had online, late at night, a few weeks ago. I read it-- thankfully it was not long! --and my face went white. Then it went red. 'How did....'

So he told me he had got a phone call this afternoon from a police detective in Ohio. Yes-- that scared me. Then he explained further that the police detective had received the TOS complaint I had filed in response to the instant-message in question. The message was from a guy in Ohio, with a screen name that included something about a fireman, asking me for-- shall I say-- something immoral. I had reported him after about four comments-- that was all-- and the sheriff in Ohio had ended up investigating it. They wanted to know my age, because as you know I always just say 'under 18.' The police detective's point was that sometimes that's not enough to protect me.

I started to say something to my dad about that but of course he just told me to shut up a moment. His point, and the detective's point, was that in Ohio a 16-year-old can solicit and accept solicitations about sex. The guy was not guilty of a statutory crime, only a case of immorality and rudeness. Once again AOL and the rest of the world enable crudeness and victimise me.

The IM read that the guy asked me, 'How young and how nude?' That's from one of my usual rooms. Normally I don't mind this question. But of course-- as all my online friends must know by now-- I answered the first part first. I had typed, 'under 18'. The guy must have known his rights because 'under 18' didn't stop him from asking the next thing. The police officer had seen the 'under 18' that I had promptly and clearly typed and investigated it in case I were like 12 or something, you know. For a moment I almost wished I were.

My dad started to smile and pointed out two things about the message, still sitting there in small text, a .jpg file from a scan of a faxed piece of paper with the violator's screen name mostly blacked out with Sharpie marker. He said, 'There are two things that impress me about this.'

I was blushing. 'Okay....'

'The first thing is that you were polite. No baiting, no arguing, no attempting to debate a pointless point with him. You answered his question-- at least half of it-- and you asked him about what he wanted till he explained it.'

'But that's all I would ever do,' I said.

'I know,' he said, 'because you won't judge people.' He smiled at him. 'You're a good Christian, Janine. Even when you're wading among the slime of humanity. I can't fault you for that.'

I nodded. 'Okay....'

'The other thing is that, according to this, you stopped it the moment you knew what he wanted was wrong. Wrong, not only because you thought it was illegal, but because you found it offensive. And then, of course, you did your civic duty and reported it so the next girl wouldn't get hit with the same thing.'

I was nodding. 'But that's all I would never do,' I said again.

'I know.' He put out his arm and pulled me over to sit sideways upon his leg, like I used to when I was much littler. 'You're a good girl, Janine. I have always known that. And this, this right here--' he turned and poked at the screen-- 'this shows me why I don't worry about you. Because you know what to do. Because you are not... sucked-in by it all. Because you are better than them, and you uphold that.'

I nodded, still blushing but not for the same reason.

He bounced me a little on his leg like he did when I was about four. 'This is why I am very happy with you,' he said, and he squeezed me closer.

'I love you, Daddy,' I said.

'I love you too, good child. Now, go-- get off my leg before it falls asleep and you'll have to help me down the stairs.'

I laughed and got up. 'I'm sorry about the online thing,' I said.

He looked at it again. 'Yes, well.... Do try to be a little more careful. I don't mind the unclothed thing in the house, in your room, but I don't think it's so wise to advertise yourself to strangers too much.'

I nodded, standing up straight. 'No. You are right. I'm sorry, Daddy.'

He waved me away like a little gnat. 'Be gone with you. I want to email this detective back and tell him what we talked about.'

'Okay. Thank you, Daddy.'

He turned the chair round to the computer. 'Thank you, child.'

I descended the stairs and moped round to my room with the embarrassment fading and a more immodest blush of confidence, even pride, growing. 'What was that about?' asked my sister Jessy, sitting up on her bed with her own laptop, already naked as she so often is after school.

I made a smug kind of smile at her. 'Do you ever say you're naked when you're chatting online?'

She wrinkled her nose. 'Not to strangers. My friends don't ask.'

I nodded. 'Good,' I said, and went into my room... to type this.