Thursday, May 21, 2015

Zoe vs. the Dear Daughter Letter

It's the end of the school year so every time you look up people are graduating all over the place. College, high school, grammar school. And even Pre-K.

. . . and destroy.

Zoe will be graduating preschool in about a month, and since everyone keeps telling me time goes by so fast, I figured I'd start on my Dear Daughter/High School Graduate letter now. 
Only a little bit different.

Dear Daughter/Future Supreme Commander of the Known Universe:

It seems like only yesterday you were an evil mastermind in training. And now you’re ready to head off on your own, your plans for world domination to be put into effect. 

This will be the last time I will offer you advice, unless you see fit to visit me from whatever island you choose as your base of operations, where you will erect your impregnable fortress, gather your minions, and build your army of killer robots.

So, before you set off on your flying monkey, I have some words of advice for you.

Don’t hide your genius.

Well, maybe just the evil part. You do have to get along in the world before you crush it in your steely fist. 

As a corollary, never pretend to be less than you are. Unless you’re lulling people into a false sense of security.

Don’t compare yourself to other evil geniuses. It’s a waste of time and energy, both of which you’ll need to come out on top. Ally yourself with them temporarily, and then stab them in the back before they can do the same to you.

Read. A lot. Learn the rules. So that you can then break them with impunity. Study Shakespeare. Model yourself after Iago before it all went south. Learn from his mistakes!

Become a student of history. Find weaknesses and exploit them. I know you know how to do this. Remember, I raised you.

Don’t get married until your career is firmly established. And when you do, make sure your partner not only shares your dreams for ultimate power but will be satisfied playing second fiddle. World domination is not a team sport.

Be your alterego. Embrace it. Have a theme and a logo. Get business cards made up. But when you do, make the initial print run small in case there’s a mistake. Have the printer fix the mistake before you slowly roast them over hot coals and give them a bad review on Yelp. That’s just good business sense.

Don’t take selfies with duckface. You’ll be embarrassed later, and no one takes an evil mastermind seriously if a Google search turns up embarrassing photos. 

In fact, you should probably avoid photographic evidence of your whereabouts altogether. (A reasonable precaution when your plans necessarily involve pissing off the entire global population.)

On the other hand, you should hire a PR consultant. It’s important to learn the art of spin, and while the hoi polloi is distracted by your good works, you’ll be pulling strings behind the scenes to topple world governments.

Onto wardrobe. When you grind the plebes under your heels make sure they’re attached to comfortable shoes. You don’t want to turn an ankle while you’re grinding. That would be embarrassing. (See duckface discussion above.)

Exception: stilettos. Nothing says power like stilettos. However, if you do plan to wear them, start practicing now. I remember a certain four-year-old at her preschool graduation threatening a level of destruction that would make the prom in Carrie look like a Teddy Bear picnic, but her plans were foiled when she tripped in sandals that were on the wrong feet. You don’t want to spend your first few weeks of utter supremacy laid up in bed.

Get in the habit of wearing gloves. They’re stylish, you won’t leave prints, and if you slowly peel them off one finger at a time you’ll intimidate the weak-minded into coughing up useful information about themselves or others. Pay attention to gossip.

As for color, wear red with some black. Or black with some red. These are power colors.

Learn a few magic tricks. Sleight of hand will serve you well.

Don’t collect anything weird. Enemies will use that against you. For instance, by driving up the price of a Shawn Cassidy lunchbox on eBay (bastards!).

Speaking of enemies, remember that superheroes are all alike. They may differ slightly in origin story—alien, bug bite, radiological mishap or what have you---but at heart they are just people (or aliens) in great shape. And that shape is square.

Bide your time when you want revenge. Plan delicately and don’t leave evidence. Divert attention. If anyone cottons on, discredit them. With photos. (Again, see duckface.)

Lie if you can get away with it. If you can’t, tell the truth but mix in some disinformation.

Don’t get so busy bending others to your will that you forget to enjoy yourself. After all, it’s the little things, like the tears and lamentations of the vanquished, that make life sweet.

Ignore warranties for purchases under $500. They’re never worth it.

Don’t eat the hot dogs sold in movie theaters. Trust me.

And most of all, I hope you dance. On the broken bodies of your enemies.

Don’t forget me,

P.S. Burn this letter.

Zoe: 93, Universe: 0

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 
As you steer your sturdy sailboat on the seas of life, watch out for sharks and click here to subscribe.


  1. If I was not certain before, I now know where Zoe gets her evil genius! This is brilliant, Liz...from the warranty advice to the duck face selfies. I sense an entire line of graduation greeting cards based on this letter...

  2. Elizabeth CatalanoMay 21, 2015 at 6:18 PM

    Ha, from your mouth to... Though she could do the illustrations on a greeting card line---her drawings are equally creepy! Thanks, Dana!

  3. OMG this is hysterical, you need to save this and give it to her at either her high school graduation or college graduation. That is if she survives that long..... I just saw my oldest walk the stage this past Sunday and I am AMAZED she survived, I am amazed I survived and she is going off to college..... :)

    The duck face!!!!! What more can I say than my daughters generation is going to be HAUNTED by this...



  4. Elizabeth CatalanoMay 22, 2015 at 10:01 AM

    I totally will! Congratulations to your daughter. And duck face should haunt them. Haha. My generation had big 80s hair and shoulder pads. We all had something.

  5. Love this. Especially the last part! Zoe will do well in life with this advice!

  6. Elizabeth CatalanoMay 26, 2015 at 11:32 AM

    Thanks! All important life lessons!

  7. Love this!! I think Zoe will rule the world with you in her corner. :)
    Thank goodness we didn't have to worry about selfies and whatnot with the cameras everywhere when we were younger. I just sounded old... EH!

  8. Elizabeth CatalanoMay 26, 2015 at 4:52 PM

    Thanks! And, yes, I know. I can't believe what kids today have and, therefore, what I have to worry about!

  9. JulieJordanScott2May 30, 2015 at 7:45 AM

    You and Zoe should read "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" - that tenement Mom, poor as poor can be, read Shakespeare to her kids every night and taught them the simplest tricks to save and be smart! I wish I had read it when my kids were little. Fun Dear Daughter letter. (PS - Keep writing them!)