Monday night we're watching NBC's "The Voice," and finalist Alisan Porter has just finished singing her original song, "Down That Road." We'd already gotten to know her as a great singer over the course of this season, but now it seems she's a really talented songwriter as well. I make a mental note to download the song from iTunes later, because my stepdaughter has asked me a question, and I don't want to be rude.
My stepdaughter. No, I'm still not used to that phrase, thanks for asking. And don't even get me started on the fact that I'm a stepmother.
"Why do you ask?"
"Well, you're pretty talented at blogging and fiction, I just wondered if you ever tried songs."
If you've never helped raise someone else's teenagers before, let me help you out for a second: A seventeen year old girl calling her stepmother "pretty talented" is roughly equivalent to awarding a Nobel Prize. My heart warms, and I start checking my pockets for an acceptance speech.
"That's sweet of you to say, Katy, thank you."
She rolls her eyes. "That wasn't my point." I decide to put off booking my flights to Stockholm for a little while longer.
"I actually did try writing songs for a little while, back in college. A few of my sorority sisters and I were huge fans of Destiny's Child, and we tried to start a girl group. Let's just say it wasn't a huge success."
"Who's Destiny's Child?" asks... my stepson. Yeah, not used to that one yet, either.
"Do you know who Beyoncé is?" I've learned never to make assumptions with these two.
"Of course," Ryan replies. "Hey - you're not secretly Becky with the good hair, are you?" Warren and Katy laugh.
"Trust me, I've never met Jay Z."
"I don't know, Debra, you're leading all these double lives. I'm pretty sure for a while people thought Rachael Ray was writing the Barmaid Blog." We all laugh.
"Anyway, Destiny's Child was Beyoncé's group before she went solo."
"Before she went solo? She's been a huge star forever, and she's barely thirty, isn't she?"
"Not really sure how old she is, but I think she was still in middle school when Destiny's Child got started."
"And you two complain you don't even have time for all your homework," interjects Warren.
"Get me a record deal, Dad, and I promise I'll find the time."
Katy says, "You couldn't carry a tune if it had handles and a hoverboard, Chewbacca."
"Coming from you that's a real compliment, Maz Kanata."
Warren stifles a smile. "Can I just say that it's a nerd's dream come true that my kids love 'Star Wars' enough to mine it for insults?"
Katy rolls her eyes again, and I wonder if her mother's ever warned her they might stick back there someday. "Dad, if you start talking about opening night in 1977 again, I swear I will Instagram all your Bar Mitzvah photos."
"Who pays for your phone again, Katy? I'm having trouble remembering, you know how it is with us old people."
"Get me a record deal, Dad," Katy says in a voice clearly meant to mock Ryan's, "and I'll pay for my own phone."
Ryan comes right back, "You couldn't carry a tune if you lived in an open carry state, Hopalong Chastity."
"Anyway," I interrupt as Katy whacks Ryan with a throw pillow, "it turned out I had no talent for writing lyrics, and none of us were all that good at singing to begin with."
Warren asks, "What did you write songs about?"
"Um... I can't remember?"
"Oh, please!" says Katy.
"Fine - fine. I think I wrote one about a UNH hockey player we all had a crush on."
"Which one?" asks Ryan.
"Mike Lubesnick," I mumble.
"You could've ended up being Mrs. Lubesnick?" Ryan asks, laughing.
"Not if he'd ever heard the song I wrote, I promise you. And by the way, it's not easy finding words that rhyme with 'Lubesnick.'"
Ryan starts crooning immediately, "Oh, you're so hot and dreamy, Mike Lubesnick, it's enough to make a perfect ten sick!" We all applaud, even Katy, who can't help laughing.
"That's not bad," says Warren. "Keep it up, you may get that record deal yet."
"Please don't encourage him, Dad," says Katy.
Warren hits the button on his DVR remote to unpause the Voice finals, and I settle back into the cuddle we had going before Katy made her inquiry. Don't get me wrong, helping raise someone else's kids is a huge challenge every single day, but I love my stepfamily. Some days, I wonder what the hell scared me so much.
Other days it's easier to remember, but this is one of the good ones.