Her father has grown to hate women more than he ever did before. In his younger years, which, for a man, still means his thirties, he was all smiles and encouragement for his only daughter, Eleanora. Even agreed to a somewhat pompous name with the hope that it would help to take her far in life. He was so assured in the fact that, because she was sprung from his very body, she was sure to amount to something. But as Eleanora grew up, she steadily proved herself to be rather unremarkable. She engaged in the usual recreational activities to make herself seem “involved” enough to colleges, and she even took up a relatively active role in the French club by organizing a jaunt to “the city” to see a midnight screening of Amélie. These small glimmers of initiative, at first, persisted in giving Dylan some hope that Eleanora would turn out all right–be able to make her way in the world in a manner that would be both successful and stand out. Jeanne didn’t appear to be as concerned with Eleanora’s future as it approached. She was the type of parent who, if her child wasn’t going to make millions of dollars as an adequate return on her investment, all other so-called forms of “success” were irrelevant. A word that perfectly described Eleanora as she made her way into what’s contemptuously referred to as “the real world.”
The problem was, Dylan had built her up too much in her youth. Like so many fathers with their daughters, he had given her what should be called in the psychiatric book of illnesses, The Princess Treatment. Or maybe, it’s fairer to say that the illness should be called the Aftermath of the Princess Treatment, best epitomized by the metaphorical ripping off of a crown she thought she wore as she hits her head on the reality called, “No one cares about you as much as your Daddy.” And not even your Daddy as much as you think he does. Eleanora, like many girls before and many who will come after, was not prepared for the emotional fallout of being released into the world without fair warning of how it was going to be without Daddy to be her constant cushion, supporting her through even her most ridiculous of complaints, demands and “ambitions” (in quotes because most females’ ambitions, in some roundabout way or other, is to get attention).
Dylan, however, was very accommodating for a time in Eleanora’s relocation to the planet known as Earth, where people’s personal plights are so frequently ignored by others, it’s every man and woman for himself—and Daddies are suddenly nowhere to be found. That’s what Eleanora was refusing to learn as she went through the motions of an editorial internship, hoping that, in doing so, she would show her parents that she was trying to make it as a “serious” (read: paid) writer. And that, in failing at being paid, she would be held unaccountable for having no money. For she had tried. She had fucking tried. That’s what she was screaming about right now in the confining dimensions of her East Village apartment, where the debris of last night’s party–empty bottles, beer cans, food wrappers, an errant condom with that standard river of seedling spilling out–was making her feel all kinds of icky. One of the only people she could tolerate for more than two hours at a time (which didn’t necessarily give her the classification of “friend”), Maribelle, a 21-year-old still firmly secure in the safe seahorsey womb of Daddy-o as she finished up her last year at SVA, was sucking loudly on a lollipop. It was one of many she kept on hand whenever she got hungry and there was no food. The sound of her smacking was grating on Eleanora’s nerves as she told first her mother and then her father that she had been fired from the internship and that could they maybe put some more money into her account while she found something else that paid better. The answer, it was seeming surprisingly to be, evolved into a hard no. First from Jeanne, and then finally from Dylan, which was most heart-wrenching of all. How could her daddy say no to her for the first time in all these years of consistently saying yes? Turn his back not just on his daughter, but his only daughter? It made no sense. Was a complete contradiction of everything she had ever known. Why now? Why after all this time? To go against her in a manner so cold-blooded and callous, go for her jugular in the worst possible fashion–financially–was more than she could bear. So, without bidding adieu, she simply hung up and fell forward onto her couch, hitting Maribelle’s heeled foot as she did so, letting out a cry of pain that was more in reaction to having to fend for herself than the pain of the heel.
“Why does this have to happen to me now? When I need them the most? I didn’t need them in high school. I barely needed them in college. So why now, of all moments? I could be eating from a fucking dumpster by next week at the rate I’m going.”
Maribelle continued to suck languidly on her lollipop. “You’ll be fine,” she offered cursorily, her mind clearly elsewhere, perhaps on a dick she would rather be sucking. It was then that Eleanora had a mental health-shattering epiphany: No one is ever really there for you. Not even your own blood. You’re conditioned your entire life to believe that there will always be someone there to catch you when you fall. But, as it turns out, there is no one there behind you at all. Just a cold slab of concrete pavement waiting to deliver the final blow to your false sense of security. She wanted to cry, but somehow couldn’t. Not just because it was such a cliche, but because she was too stunned to do so.
Over the course of the next few months, Eleanora defied everything that flagrantly informed her to the contrary that she was about to be flat broke with no promise of aid from her parents. Her parties grew more lavish, and therefore loud. The packed to the gills one bedroom at the corner of A and 6th was becoming somewhat notorious, much to the dismay of the landlord, a generally mild-mannered old Italian man who had lost his patience enough with the complaints that were funneling in to finally kick Eleanora out. This meant it was officially over for her. There was nowhere in New York City to her fastidious specifications where she could be accepted without a guarantor willing to have his bank account anally probed in order to get in. And though she begged and pleaded both in person and over the phone with Dylan, his new favorite word–NO–was immoveable.
“Why Daddy? Why are you doing this to me?”
He rolled his eyes at her, pathetically twiddling her thumbs in the chair across from his desk. “Because Eleanora, you’re a grown woman now and it’s time you figured things out for yourself. Your problems are your own. Not mine and your mother’s.”
“I know Jeanne is behind all of this. This isn’t you talking. It’s her. Can’t you just give me some money without her knowing?”
It was in that second that Dylan became his utmost disgusted with what he had raised: a selfish, entitled, do-nothing. Eleanora was never going to amount to anything. And, like parents since the beginning of time, he inwardly demanded of himself where he had gone wrong. Was it the her sixth birthday party, when he had consented to getting every child at the event their own pony for the day to ride around on in their backyard? Was it having a backyard as sprawling as theirs in Long Island? Was it agreeing to get her a chauffeured limo to take her to the airport for her first trip overseas? Was it, essentially, fulfilling her every wish simply because fathers are conditioned, in the same way as daughters to expect it, to treat their little girl like a princess? A princess that will, accordingly, never find a Prince Charming that will be good enough for her or treat her as well. Prince Charming, as a concept, is set up to fail by the king: Daddy. My Daddy would never treat me this way, my Daddy wouldn’t be so cheap… being just some of the thoughts that run through a girl’s head as she compares her beau to the first man she ever knew in her life.
Outside on the self-important streets of Midtown, Eleanora could sense a chasm was opening up in the universe–one that divided the world into people who had been raised “correctly” and people who had suddenly been made to realize that parental backing isn’t a perpetual given. Maybe all those homeless women she had encountered in her lifetime were once Daddy’s girls forced to reckon with a society that wouldn’t cater to their flippant whims the way Daddy used to.
In her case, that was the backstory behind her inevitable homelessness. For she eventually had to reconcile that she was incapable of functioning in a job that didn’t indulge her impetuousness and incompetence. Aware of her deteriorating circumstances, Dylan continued to refuse her help. Some would argue that this tough love approach is the precise mode of galvanization that is needed to make a hardened woman out of a little girl. Not so. The formative years are too key in molding a girl’s expectations and assumptions about life as it is and, in her mind, will always be. Princesses can’t be unmade, only fortified or stripped of power altogether.
And as we close the book on the story of Princess in Her Mind Eleanora and all the cake she never got to finish eating on Daddy’s dime, let us come away with one very important moral: Fathers turn their daughters into the monsters that they hate. And instead of blaming themselves, they blame the daughters. Women. Women who turn out to prove all their greatest prejudices against the sex: that they’re incompetent, incapable, helpless little ninnies who will never be anything at their core other than reliant on a man.