Open Letter to Mark Wahlberg, From One Dad to Another

Dear Mark,

We don't know each other, but we go way back.

I first became aware of the Wahlberg family when some of my female schoolmates took an interest in your brother, Donnie, during his time in the boy-band New Kids on the Block. I was heavy into Led Zeppelin at the time, the late 1980s, so I admit that the comparisons on my end were not always favorable. Please don't hold this against me, as I am writing to you for a serious reason.

As the '90s slowly took over and I moved toward the end of high-school, so too did I become aware of you, as Marky Mark, leader of the Funky Bunch, with your infectious single, "Good Vibrations." I admit, this thing was catchy, and I recall it fondly now with the works of C and C Music Factory and Milli Vanilli (yeah, I know they lip-synched), as the collective flavors of that particular moment in the electro-pop revolution (I had moved onto the Grateful Dead).

After that, well, I went to college, graduate school, became a writer and professor, and later a father of two wonderful daughters. As you have gone on to success as a Hollywood actor, well, our lives have diverged. I enjoyed some of your films -- Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees in particular -- and mostly liked Entourage, even when everybody knew the show had lost its direction.

Thus, in some very important ways I feel as if we have grown up together. You are only 3 years older than me, for one, and that makes us both adult family men. I respect that. So you can imagine my response when I that you commented in a Men's Journal interview as to how you would have reacted to the events of 9/11, if you been a passenger on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center.

This site quotes you as saying: "If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn't have went down like it did," you said. "There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, 'OK, we're going to land somewhere safely, don't worry.'" You also said in 2006, the HuffPost notes, that you have had many dreams about being on the plane. Ok, you've since apologized for the interview comments, and I can see why you would do that... but let's linger for a moment on the fantasy itself.

You've played some tough characters (I did see Date Night), and I am not surprised that you'd perhaps over-identify with some of these roles when it comes to your daily life. Daydreams. Waking Life. This is a normal bit of over-association. And, we're talking about our country, to boot. Mark, it just makes sense that you'd think of yourself as somehow able to change the course of this historic event just by virtue of being you, and of being there.

I don't play any tough guys in my life; I'm fairly lanky, and while not out of shape, I've never been able to boast of having anything even resembling your physique. But, Mark, here's want I want to tell you, I'm also infected with daydreams and fantasies that come from my career as an English professor and a writer.

Just the other night I dreamed that there was a tunnel reaching deep into the earth, composed entirely of text, and that I needed to descend into its spiral form in order to discover important secrets that might save humanity from itself. Earlier, when I was writing my post-apocalyptic novel, Drain, I would dream of reading book upon book of the most precise prose; it would be as clear to me in the dream as your vision of America -- safe from the terror of 9/11. When I would wake, though, to write down the words, to bring them into the world, Mark, they would disappear into the ether of the day.

Even so, at times I envision rescuing my oldest daughter from a particularly troublesome elementary school math problem. There she is, struggling, brow furrowed, her young mind taxed and bemused as the sweat drips along the golden temple of her glasses. I rush over, kicking the other kitchen chairs out of the way. The pencil is dull, so I sharpen it quickly with my teeth. Then, through the magic of the daydream montage, we cut to the solution. End of movie... I cry as she leaves for Harvard, her dark hair waving in the wind.

And, there is my younger daughter, caught like an ant on the wrong end of a magnifying glass while another little girl pushes her away from the swing at the park. Enraged, I volley over a set of low hedges and dodge a series of construction toys, a sand pit, a swarm of mosquitoes (malarial?), to arrive seconds after the assault. I lead that perp to her parents by taking away her sippy cup.

I know, these are fantasies -- outrageous, fantastic -- but they are mine, just as the vision of stopping the 9/11 crash is yours.

Why apologize, Mark, for who we are and what the world has made of us?

We are both proud parents, and we'll do what we must do to protect our children and our country.

Best wishes,