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She's Thirteen Now.

Such a strange animal, indeed.

Then again, my wife says she's just like me, so does that make me a deviant curio as well?

Um, apparently yes, it does.

The thing is, being compared to a thirteen-year-old girl is a little strange when you happen to reside in the meat suit of a fifty-year-old dude. I'd like to think that any trace elements of testosterone still floundering through my varicose veins would nonetheless stand in profound contrast to the murky estrogen bloom staging in her pituitary region.

But, you know, I've been wrong before.

She turned thirteen today. Well, technically, she'll reach that age tonight around 11:46, the moment her slimy little body wriggled free and lay center stage in the doctor's nurturing palms, the stark klieg lights casting down upon my beautiful new burden.

A daughter; a second one, in fact. Holy shit.

When a man sees his baby girl for the first time, he doesn't think of all that stuff he's heard for the past nine months:

"Oh, boys are so much easier, especially as teenagers."

"Better get a membership to a rifle range. Then you'll be ready when the boys come a callin'. Heh, heh!"

"I hope she's not like I was. I had such low self esteem and, oh, did I make some bad choices."

Nope , he doesn't think of any of it—because he melts.

Every girl he's ever known...his girlfriends, his mom, his sisters and aunts and grandma...combine into a single conscious entity, delivering a singular message:

Don't screw this up, mister.

Throughout this thirteen-year odyssey, has she pissed me off? Hell, yes. I would say she's incited emotions which had previously been exclusively reserved for either Rush Limbaugh or historically inept football referees.

Have I occasionally yearned for at least one day where I wasn't challenged on even the most mundane of statements?

Absofreakinglutely. But I'm in deep, and I'll be treading water in this pool for the rest of my life.

She celebrated last night with a sleepover. Twelve girls, all of the early teenage persuasion, gathered in our smallish house for a nineteen-hour festival of giggly giddiness. Once the agreed-upon time arrived, they poured in quickly, attacking the pillow-sized bag of candy which Webster's Teen Dictionary apparently classifies as appetizers.

Oh, yeah, and my wife wasn't around. She and our older daughter had other business to address, so I stood alone among the savages, sweatily rotating one Costco pizza after another onto the smorgasbord as the prepubescent amoeba mainlined Dr. Pepper and spoke in tones barely below dog whistle pitch.

And while a nice beer or six may have smoothed out the evening's jagged edge, I needed to maintain a Lindsay Lohan defying sobriety, since I alone had to shuttle the dirty dozen to the bowling alley for the night's main event.

My bride joined the fracas soon after, tag teaming with me on cake and ice cream duty.

Incidentally, we purchased one of those foot-tall Costco chocolate cakes—you know what I'm talking about? It's got about twelve layers, any one of which could cause even Tim Tebow's virgin bloodstream to throw a lard-laced heart clot.

After bowling and sugar, we returned to our bungalow with the mob, my wife and I finally leaving them to their own devices. Dancing, according to our birthday princess, was next on the agenda, so I plugged someone's iPod into our family room stereo and retreated with bids of goodnight and sleep tight and don't be too loud or I'll be pissed as shite.

Two ear plugs and eight hours later, I arose to survey the damage. One girl lay asleep on a recliner, while the remainder formed an interlocking tangle of toxicity, occupying every inch of the floor that wasn't already covered in candy wrappers and dusty Dorito mole hills.

I asked my daughter if they'd left the heat on all night. They hadn't; all through this sleepless night, their bodies had generated every kilowatt of the room's oppressive bouquet.

Naturally, I thought. She's thirteen now.