Tyranny, like charity, begins at home. My teenaged daughter had a party last night and I was not invited. You'd just inhibit us, Dad, she said. Actually, she didn't, she said I'd get in the way. Come on, I said. I'll take a glass of wine and a mystery story and stay upstairs. Please let me stay, I said. She shook her head calmly. She's a twin, only eight minutes older than her brother but with the iron will of the first born, or the tyrant. (Interestingly, her brother has a will like rubber, which means he bends -- and then snaps back painfully. Will-wise, none of my children is a pushover. I, on the other hand, seem to have a will of oatmeal.) All right, all right, I said, and took my Lawrence Block and the car keys. You know the rules, I said over my shoulder. What rules? There are no rules here, she said. Now go! Actually she said, Bye bye, Daddy, which is a much nicer way of making the same point. I sighed and felt like the Weimar Republic -- an okay idea but badly run. Nature abhors a vacuum. Where there is no order, order will appear. I had my glass of wine in a bar-restaurant and returned a couple of hours later to a quiet and tidy house. My daughter was filling the sink with water. How was the party? I asked. She looked puzzled. Fine, she said. How else could it be? One of the boys got obnoxious and broke a glass, so I sent him home. The rest of us had a nice time. Do you want to wash or dry?
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