Dear Eleanor,

Please note that we address you by your baptismal name, not as Lenny, so as not to contribute to any confusion about your gender or the disordered nature of your relationship to Miss Lulu Ballard.

You and Miss Lulu Ballard are welcome to visit your mother and me on December 23 from 2:00 to 3:00 PM to exchange gifts that honor the birth of our Divine Savior. So that you may know our formal disapproval of your lifestyle, as well as to maintain the proportionate reason of our material evil, we ask that you observe the following protocols.

Please drive separately, and please ask Miss Lulu Ballard not to park in the driveway. We do not wish to give scandal to our neighbors. We recommend the public parking structure a block away on 3rd St.

Please sit at opposite sides of the living room. Sitting on the couch, even at opposite ends, is unacceptable and could make your mother and me formal cooperators in evil. We ask that you observe the delicacy of our feelings.

Please do not address each other with any endearments ("honey," "dear," "lambcakes"). We shall refer to Miss Lulu Ballard as Miss Lulu Ballard -- and please do not get into the "Ms" fuss; it's so untidy.

We ask that you and Miss Lulu Ballard never be out of the room as a pair without supervision. We must guard against any possibility of formal participation in evil.

Please do not discuss your recent vacation. We suspect it was a gay-sponsored cruise, and we do not approve.

Please do not allude to immoral programs, such as "Will and Grace."

Please do not refer to the writers (Whitman, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Hopkins, Auden, Cather, Rich) that your movement is trying to hijack from Western Culture. As a retired English teacher, your mother is especially sensitive about such matters.

Your mother and I are proud that our household is an old-fashioned one. We spurn post-modernism and do not even wish to make a deep acquaintance with modernism. The Angelic Doctor is good enough for us.

We realize that our raising of you (especially in consideration of your current state of sin) is unfinished. The list above contains safeguards for your own good, but we wish to be proactive.

Please ask Miss Lulu Ballard to depart five minutes ahead of you. Your mother and I wish to lay hands on you.

As you reach for one of the chocolate-cherry cordials you so love, notice that they are next to an opened catechism -- to the page defining your grave evil. Our hope is that the Church's wisdom may attack your heart.

We ask that you leave our loving home humbly and prayerfully, knowing our kindness, but aware of our clarity, charity and incomplicity.

As your parents, we are two significant efficient causes of the greatest of final causes: your eternal salvation. At the end, we do not want "Yuck" for you, but "Hosanna."

Repetition is the soul of learning, and so we repeat -- your mother and I write in love, not in rejection of your person, but in clear, formal rejection of your illicit relationship with Miss Lulu Ballard. We pray that you turn your heart to the Word of God.

Your disapproving, disheartened, but loving (nigh on to saintly) father,

Hooly Horace Holmes,

The Video-Store King of Higbee County

Michael Allen Mikolajczak is a professor of English at the University of St. Thomas. He wrote this article in response to "The delicate balance between kindness and complicity," Dec. 29.