Advice for the Daughter I Actually Have

If I had a daughter—which I do; her name is Sydney; she’s nine months old—I’d tell her this: Sweetheart, by now you’ve probably heard all about the open letter from an older, divorced Princeton alumna to the current female undergraduates urging them to take the opportunity—one the likes of which they will never enjoy again— to find a husband while still in college. And you’ve probably heard about the backlash as well. It has been... well, considerable. I’m not going to defend my fellow Princeton alum—yes, Daddy also graduated from that small, Presbyterian-founded liberal arts school in New Jersey—but I do think she has a point. And I’d like to sharpen that point some, if I may be so bold.

Sydney, you’re just a baby now, but soon enough you’re going to be a young woman, and by that time—it’s pretty much a certainty, if I understand science at all, which I believe I do even though I was an English major in college and took only one “science” class, but it was in fact an introductory astrophysics course, taught by a professor who theorizes that time travel is absolutely possible, using something called “cosmic strings”; I got a B-plus—humanity will be a space-faring race. The manned space program of the United States might be on hiatus as I write this, but other countries are still reaching for the stars. (North Korea has a missile program, for instance, and Israel is launching rockets almost daily.) Mankind is going to the heavens, come hell or high water, and when we do, it’s going to get harder for you to find a husband, or wife, or whatever the law will allow in thirty years from now, “out there.” So I urge you to find a mate on Earth before you leave for the Mars Colony or the Trans-Neptunian Settlement or Trump Comet. Once you leave Earth, it’s going to get much harder to find a human life-partner.

You haven’t yet started pre-school, so you probably don’t yet know much about the Fermi Paradox or the Drake Equation, but your dad does, so trust me when I tell you that, sooner or later, we’re going to discover that we—humans—are not alone in Creation. Whether it will be the Vulcans or the Ewoks or the Doctor Whos that we’ll encounter first I can’t say, but eventually humans will represent just a small fraction of the intermingled sentient creatures of the known universe. What we can presume with some confidence, however, is that the other beings won’t likely have the same priorities that humans have. Just to give you one example: Vulcans, we already know, prize logic, eschewing emotions. If you think you’ll want a spontaneous, romantic significant other, then you’re not going to find him, her, or it on Vulcan. No, you’re going to want to have locked something down here on Earth before you even leave for Vulcan. (For another example: Eroticonians of all sexes treasure breasts, but you’re going to have two at most.)

Mind you, I’m not at all suggesting that you must, or even should, find a mate. I’m assuming that you’ll want to, and only because most humans do. But some humans don’t mind being alone, and a small number even prefer it. Those humans will probably be the first ones to go into space, on private rockets to small asteroids. (Do yourself a huge favor and do not fall in love with anyone who wants to live on an asteroid. Talk about a rocky relationship! Sorry, kid: That’s the kind of joke you’re going to have to put up with until you blast off-planet.) If you decide that you don’t want a partner, your mother and I will be fine with that. If you decide that you want to marry, say, the Man in the Moon... well, here’s something else I learned in that Princeton astrophysics class: The so-called man in the moon is no such thing. No, I’m afraid all of the men are right here, on Earth, and it would behoove you to get to know some of them before you bid your homeworld adieu for more exotic, extraterrestrial locales. From a sheer numbers perspective, the odds of your finding a human mate will never be as good again. To the contrary, the chances of your meeting someone very odd—from a human perspective—will only go up, up, way up.

One final thought, dear daughter: I’m telling you this in private—rather than, say, publishing it in your college newspaper or the Times (any of them), because not everyone will perceive the wisdom of my advice. Some might think it xenophobic, though I mean it to be only humanitarian. Others might consider me narrow-minded, but I have only your best interests in mind. And others still might accuse me of believing that I’m smarter than everyone else, and those people are correct. After all, I did go to Princeton.

Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.

Read more humor here. Or read some fiction here.