My phone rings. I answer it.
“Hello,” the young voice says. “Is this Sean Deet… Deet… ”
My last name has always been a source of frustration for telemarketers and non-German speakers. I help the poor girl out. “Sean Dietrich,” I say.
“Thank you, Mister Dietrich. I’m writing something for my school newspaper and your wife scheduled this interview for us. Is now a good time?”
“I have all the time in the world. Can I ask your name?”
“Oh, shoot. Sorry, yes. My name’s Lindsey.”
Long silence. The sound of rustling papers. An electric pencil sharpener.
“What grade are you in, Lindsey?”
“Fire at will.”
“Um… My first question is, what do you like about writing?”
A very good question. In fact, I have done more than a few interviews, but I rarely get straightforward questions like this. I have to think for a few moments about how to answer.
Finally, I say, “I guess I like how it makes me feel, the act of writing, I mean. I can’t explain it. Writing is fun.”
Bill Shakespeare eat your heart out.
She says in a whisper, “How… It… Makes… Him… Feel…”
“And I also like meeting new people who I get to write about. I enjoy meeting people.”
“…Meeting… New… People…”
More silence. Followed by paper sounds. The noise of a child clearing her throat.
“Are you happy with your life, Sean?”
This child is aiming straight for the jugular. She’s asking existential questions right off the bat. Questions I don’t know whether I have answers for. Besides, what is happiness, really? Is this a yes or no question? Or is it a matter of percentages? Is anyone ever truly happy? If so, do they stay that way forever, or only for a few weeks? I mean, I know some who have everything they want—health, stuff, money, family, success, a pasta maker—and they still want more.
“Sure,” I say.
“What about you, Lindsey? Are you happy?”
“Uh, yeah, well, I guess so.”
“But you aren’t sure?”
“Well. I’m pretty happy right now.” She steers the interview toward the most important topic of our discussion. “What are your dogs’ names?”
“Thelma Lou and Otis Campbell.”
“Those’re funny names. Why did you choose them?”
She’s giving away her age. You can tell a lot about people by how they react to names like Thelma Lou, Otis Campbell, Andrew Taylor, Floyd Lawson, and Bernard P. Fife.
“Have you ever seen the ‘Andy Griffith Show,’ Lindsey?”
Sweet baby Joseph.
“What is that show about?”
“The ‘Andy Griffith Show’ is only the best TV show of all time. My dogs are named after two characters on that show.”
“That’s pretty cool. I’ll have to watch it sometime. I thought about naming my hamster Peppa Pig, ‘cause that used to be my favorite show, but it’s not anymore.”
“What’s your favorite show now?”
“I like reading better.”
There is hope for America.
The girl has more questions and we talk a little longer, but she is in a hurry, she has to go to ball practice.
She says, “What kind of advice would you give a writer like me about writing stories the way you do?”
I am truly stumped. First of all, I don’t have any advice. I am not much of an advice guy. The only times in my life I have ever actually given advice, it didn’t work out well for those who followed it. One guy ruined his transmission, and the other guy lost $1,326 dollars. So I quit giving advice.
“I’m sorry, Lindsey, I’m not an advice giver. I think my best advice is to never take my advice.”
“What about you, Lindsey? What kind of advice would you give me if I asked you for advice?”
She laughs. “I dunno. What kinda stuff do you wanna know?”
“Doesn’t matter. Just give me some advice.”
I hear the cogs in her brain turning. It sounds like the whirring engine of a Dodge Charger. Whereas my mind’s motor sounds more like a ‘43 Studebaker on a January morning in Winnipeg.
“My advice is love yourself,” she says. “And don’t let anyone make you feel dumb, even people who aren’t nice to you. Be nice to people. But don’t be a wimp either, because that’s not being nice to yourself if you’re just being a baby who takes everyone’s crap all the time.”
I grab a pen. “Everyone’s… Crap… All… The… Time…”
“And,” she goes on, “I think girls should quit obsessing over themselves and putting dumb filters on their selfies.”
“Well, I would say that if people can’t get a cat or dog they can always get a hamster. I’ve had my hamster for a long time and he’s a good friend, his name is Hairy, spelled with an ‘I.’ And he’s a great one, but he can’t sleep with me anymore because that didn’t work out too good.”
“That’s good advice. Better than any I could give.”
“You sure know a lot for being so young. How’d you learn so much?”
“I dunno,” she says. “I grew up in lots of foster homes after my mom died when I was a baby, I guess I’ve learned a lotta stuff. I guess I have a kinda different sper-fective.”
Yes. I guess you do, darling. Thanks for the interview.
Steve McCaleb - July 18, 2021 7:06 am
From the mouths of babes.May God bless Lindsey on her life’s journey and I hope he takes a liking to you as well Mr Dietrich.
Faye Hutt - July 18, 2021 8:03 am
I don’t have tears in my eyes this time, I have tears in my heart. Bless you both.
Jaye Slaton - July 18, 2021 8:59 am
One word! Outstanding!
Suzi - July 18, 2021 10:02 am
You are the best Sean Deet Deet at seeking the value in the people you meet.
Debbie - July 18, 2021 12:12 pm
I like that last name….as well as ol’ Bill Shakespeare!
Debbie g - July 18, 2021 10:54 am
Also bless you and Lindsey Y’all are the best !!! My day is blessed because of you
Love to all
Trisha - July 18, 2021 11:03 am
KAT 7:32 am - July 18, 2021 11:32 am
🌷🥰🌸Lindsey, I’ll take your advice ! And the rest of the world, are you listening? 🌸🥳🌷
Leigh Amiot - July 18, 2021 12:19 pm
Personal soapbox, but I wish I could wave a magic wand and make social media disappear for children so young. It is good that Lindsey sees the phoniness of it. She sees pretty clearly for someone of such a tender age. Bless her sweet heart, she has had to grow up quicker than most.
Paul McCutchen - July 18, 2021 12:22 pm
I hope she stays true to herself. The world needs Lindseys.
Ed (Bear) - July 18, 2021 12:23 pm
Lindsey has a sharp “Opie Taylor” quality to her.
Nancy Crews - July 18, 2021 12:44 pm
❤your writing. Losing your mom as a baby is enough to give you different “sperspectives”.😢
Terry Ransom - July 18, 2021 12:52 pm
Wow, from the mouth of babes.
JOHN MILLER - July 18, 2021 12:52 pm
thanks, You and Lindsey made my day
Lulu - July 18, 2021 12:57 pm
Thanks for this interview, Sean. Each of us should ask ourselves some of those same questions…interesting! That Lindsay is sure wise for her age…she truly has learned much. I love this and all your writings…you make so many happy and more caring. Wonderful.
Robert Smyth - July 18, 2021 12:58 pm
Suellen - July 18, 2021 1:13 pm
It’s great to see someone so young with so much wisdom but sad at how she’s gotten there. May God protect and guide Lindsey always.
Bobbie - July 18, 2021 1:16 pm
Wonderful advice…from you both. I agree with whoever said they should cut off social media for young people, and everyone else in my opinion. Lindsey’s advice is straight from the heart and her experiences. A tough way to grow up but she’ll do great …she already knows the basics which is more than most young teens, or older ones do! God bless her. Wonderful way to start my day. As you said, Sean ,, there’s hope for America. ❤️🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
Jenny Young - July 18, 2021 2:04 pm
What a precious interview…the best kind ever!
Ed Peacher Jr - July 18, 2021 2:05 pm
Yes, growing up in an orphanage does change the way you look at the “world”. It made me envious of those that grew up in real families – in that they had grandparents along with cousins, nieces, lots of extended family. Stayed in an orphanage from the age of 7 to 18. Thanks for the message Sean!
Walt Henley - July 18, 2021 2:31 pm
Good story. Good advice. Thanks to both of you!
Heather Miller - July 18, 2021 3:23 pm
What’s so neat about Lindsey’s interview with you: you actually listened to her. She was able to actually think and answer your questions, as you did the same for her. That’s the beginning of friendship. Then hearing that she enjoyed reading over tv was icing on the cake. Thanks!
Christina - July 18, 2021 4:12 pm
There is hope for America
Brenda Jones Sanchez - July 18, 2021 4:12 pm
Peace. Love and Joy………nuff said.
Louise Cammack - July 18, 2021 5:11 pm
Please follow up with that child.
Teri Easterling - July 18, 2021 5:51 pm
💝🙏🏻 Great interview! All the best to Lindsey. I like her perspective!
MAM - July 18, 2021 5:57 pm
Lindsey is already wise, and she’ll do well. Thank you, Sean, for letting her interview you, and getting an interview and article from talking with her. Two kindred spirits, methinks. Happy Sunday!
Linda Moon - July 18, 2021 7:54 pm
I can pronounce your name and spell it correctly: “rich diet” reversed. You told us that once. But, since Marlene Dietrich preceded you, I already knew how to say and spell it. And Pastor Bonhoeffer’s name helped me, too. I’m glad you turned the interview to Lindsay and then explained about “advice” because I agree with your best advice. Good listening, your writings, and reading the writings are better than advice. I’ve had all three from your unique sper-fective, so thank you for that, Sean Richdiet!
Deb R - July 19, 2021 1:07 am
Suzanne Brantley - July 19, 2021 1:46 am
Love this interview and all the good advice. And you are right…The Andy Griffith show IS the greatest TV show of all time!
Phil Jennings - July 19, 2021 9:04 am
The two of you melt my pea picking heart.
Lindsey has already lived a lifetime. I’ll pray for her to have a more wonderful life than she can imagine. Maturity such as hers comes through a forced growth so early in life. Fly, Lindsay, fly!
God bless you, Sean.
Bill Harris - July 19, 2021 1:30 pm
Thank you Sean
Camilla - July 21, 2021 12:51 pm
Your best ever. Charm, humor, and a stab in the heart. Can’t beat that trio.