In the Arena: Dear EMily

October 2009


I knew that our relationship would be difficult. You told me you would be demanding and difficult and unpredictable.

Dear EMily, I love you. I've loved you since Dr. Janiak first introduced us. I was young, naïve, and awkward. You were sexy and exciting. I couldn't get enough of you.

I knew that our relationship would be difficult. You told me you would be demanding and difficult and unpredictable. That's what pulled me in.

I love the crazy things that go on in your house, and I love how you roll with it.

I knew that you would always live with your father, and I figured he would always be the same nice guy. I've tried to think of the best way to put this, but it's like trying to pick up a dog turd by the clean end.

So I'll just say it: Your dad is an ass.

He used to let us party and enjoy the company of your friends. If we wanted to lock the door for a few hours, he didn't care. If one of your friends was being difficult, we could boot him out on his ear and not have to write some long apology the next day.

You know, he's just using you for the money.

If it were just your dad, things would not be so bad. But the dudes who hang out in the parking lot are nasty.

We used to be able to run them off when there were only a few. Now they're like cockroaches, except they don't scatter when you turn on the light.

I've seen them come right up to one of my friends and whack him over the head with a briefcase heavy as a HIPAA. They held my buddy, Rich, down for days and didn't let him up until the cops finally came by and told them to get lost.

The guy I really can't stand is your father's brother, Sam. This guy thinks he owns the place.

He makes impossible rules, changes them more often than his underwear, and tells everybody in the neighborhood to come party for free. Don't you think it's time for him to bring the chips and beer and pay the cable bill every once in a while?

Your uncle is a drunk, too. He can't control himself on a good day, and lately he's been on a delusional binge. He thinks he hit the lottery. I saw him giving away cars down the street last week. Who does he think is going to pay for all that?

The next thing you know, he'll be telling the whole town that he'll buy them chips and beer every day of the year. The guy needs help.

I admire you for your fortitude. Most of your sisters left years ago, and you've stayed behind to help your dad. There's something to be said for that kind of loyalty.

But don't you think that loyalty could be rewarded every once in a while? Does he buy you a new dress or shoes? No, it's hand-me-downs from your sisters who live upstairs. You know he likes them better than you because of their rich husbands.

EMily, your face has some wrinkles, and you're not as trim as you used to be; but you're still beautiful, and I still love you. I just wanted to get this off my chest.

Please tell Sam to stop peeing in my bushes. I wish he would go back East.

See you tomorrow, babe.


David F. Baehren lives in Ottawa Hills, Ohio. He practices emergency medicine and is an assistant professor at the University of Toledo (Ohio) Medical Center.

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