Dear Mr. Cathereen B. Cutlet,

We acknowledge receipt of your seemingly desperate correspondence of April 2nd and 37 follow-up calls to us here at Kidswaps ‘R Us and Bar & Grill. (Call Us First! Kidswaps™ Are All We Do!) We understand you propose swapping one 15-year-old blonde daughter who is somewhat, shall we say, ‘high-spirited’ for a fixed term not to exceed three years, in return for a teenaged child of either sex of similar ilk but with just a tad less ‘negative energy.’ We understand you’d accept a blonde or brunette in a Kidswap™, but under no circumstances a redhead, but you would not consider swapping back again until the successful completion in some other household by your daughter of all of the following: the PSATs, the junior prom, the soccer tournament for which a family trip to Motel 6 in Bakersfield is looming, the first car date, the ongoing fight over elbow-piercing, Draft #4 of a summer school entrance essay entitled by said daughter, ‘Why I Am Majorly Unique,’ any event with ‘Jamboree’ in its title, and/or any shopping trips to Meadowood Mall.

Due to the unusually high volume of requests received in March from parents proposing Kidswaps™ of varying permutations involving teens of different ages, we regret we cannot respond individually to each proposal. We receive thousands of proposals for swaps each week, particularly after any three-day weekend of ‘family time.’ We will, however, be pleased to keep your proposal on file here at Kidswaps ‘R Us and Bar & Grill until said daughter reaches maturity or you tear out all of your hair, whichever occurs first. Should we locate a mutually satisfactory kidswap in the future, we will not hesitate to call, text, email, gmail, twitter, or simply holler at you from the rooftop.

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Meanwhile, we leave you with these words from Eugene O’Neill, or maybe it was Oscar Wilde: ‘Be yourself – everyone else is already taken.’ Truthfully, this quotation is not particularly fitting in your situation, but no matter. As Nathan Detroit said in ‘Guys and Dolls,’ or perhaps it was Lucy in a Peanuts TV special, patience is indeed a virtue, Mr. Cutlet, and we here at Kidswaps™ find that, when the going gets rough in the parenting department, the wise parent often considers boarding school back east. If not for your children, then at least for yourself. In our experience, the deep green shade of the ivy can be quite soothing, as can the useless repetition of Latin verb declensions.

While awaiting our response, please avail yourself of our new Lipitor-friendly deep fried menu items such as Tuna Wiggle Surprise En Croute and free Coco Loco bottomless drinks designed for the frazzled parent, available on the tavern side of our establishment, located conveniently by the ‘Do-It-Yourself Nose Jobs’ and ‘Oh No, Must I Discuss Birth Control So Early?!’ departments in our store. Our Legal Department notes for liability purposes that we cannot swap any teen holding a learner’s permit less than three weeks old. Ditto for children with any noise loaded onto their iPods laughably referred to as ‘music’ performed by a rap ‘artist’ singing anything remotely akin to ‘Get the Gat for That’ or ‘Hey Baby Yo Yo!’ To clarify, we do accept children owning traditional yo-yo’s.

Regarding your tax query as to whether you can file for a deduction for a dependent daughter for tax year 2008 if you commence initiation of a Kidswap™ in 2008, pray for a swap all through 2009, but can’t complete the swap until 2010 when a suitable Swapchild™ becomes available, but had actually contemplated the swap for years beforehand since said daughter hit puberty, we are at an utter loss. Taxes, sadly,‘R not us. However, we agree 100 percent with the conclusion in your letter that full responsibility for said daughter as a so-called ‘toxic asset’ probably won’t be assumed shortly by the U.S. government or a bank receiving bailout funds. Our lobbyist informs us that kidswap-related regulations may be loosened due to growing demand before Congress adjourns for cocktail hour next Friday. We refer you to ex-IRS agent Sam Quinn for tax advice.

Your humble servant,
Lisa Mansfield,
Lisa ‘The Big Reveal’ Mansfield
All-Looks, No-Talent
Trainee-Manager

P.S. One hand washes the other, as Lady Macbeth said in ‘Wicked.’ We’d be grateful and highly motivated to place your proposal at the top of our list if, say, when consulting Sam Quinn for tax advice, you inquired regarding a teeny hypothetical question: if someone happened to have one Tree Frog Beer too many on a trip to Reno, bought a $12.99 white dress at a 7-Eleven (‘Buy A Gown and Get A Free Lime Slurpee!’), then had a chapel wedding before midnight on New Year’s Eve ‘08 performed by an awful Elvis impersonator playing Blue Suede Shoes off-key on an accordion, but thankfully got a quickie divorce at 7:15 a.m. on January 1, could that person still file their 2008 tax return as ‘married filing separately?’

~ Discuss this story with the author. Email fries@moonshineink.com.

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