Not long ago it came to the whole world's attention that Paul McCartney was having a misunderstanding with his teen-age daughter. She shaved her hair and dyed the stubble pink. Father fell into a funk over his daughter's going punk.
Worse, she kept company with a lad who pronounced himself an anarchist. In the course of one of those awful conversations between a father and the Other Man in a daughter's life, Paul was appalled to learn that the young fellow believed anarchy meant not being harassed by police in the street. Ninny! Paul very carefully explained that anarchy means not having police at all, in the street or any other place. Multimillionaires have to be precise about these things.
The ensuing argument served to sever anything resembling cordial relations between Paul, his daughter, and the young anarchist (or whatever).
A lot of fathers giggled when the news made the headlines. They weren't exactly being mean-minded. But they lacked the magnanimity to forget that, over the years, their own daughters had kept asking them the unanswerable question: ''Why can't you be more like Paul McCartney?''
Some of us, though subject to the same cruel question, refused to snicker. Oh sure, maybe we smiled a little at the corners. We're only human. But then we sat down in committee, and in brotherhood, and composed this open letter: Dear Paul,
You are not alone. As fellow unhip fathers, we understand what you're going through. We can even guess how it all started. First, your daughter asked you not to sing in the shower while she was listening to her Rolling Stones records. Are we right?
We can imagine that hurt you even more than it hurt us - and we all happen to have light but pleasing voices with an impeccable sense of phrasing on lyrics like ''Yeah! Yeah! Oh yeah!''
Then, we can be fairly sure, there was the fateful night when you made the speech: ''We have certain rules around this house, young lady, and as long as you live here, you're going to go obey them.''
Was that where your daughter first called you ''a Real Nowhere Man''? - turning your own words against you.
At this point - we're just guessing - you dug up her baby pictures, after she'd stormed out, and began recalling old Beatles lyrics on your own. Did you by any chance hum to the empty room your early '60s song, ''She's Leaving Home, '' about a daughter who didn't find her parents, well, fun? We can imagine how that stung too.
It's been ''a hard day's night,'' Paul, if we can get into the swing of things ourselves, and we don't blame you a bit if you sing a second chorus of ''Help! I need somebody.'' That's why we're here. What are other fathers for?
''We can work it out'' - that's your message, and it's ours. The pink hair will grow out. Young anarchists, like the Blue Meanies, come and go. Time is on your side, Paul. In your latest album you say, ''It's a tug of war,'' but if you can just hang on, the weight starts shifting.
During your American tours, did you hear of our celebrated native humorist, Mark Twain? Twain once confessed that in his teens he was embarrassed at how slow and out-of-it his father seemed. Then Mark turned 20 or 21 or 22, and - tarnation! - he couldn't get over how smart his old man had become in the years between.
If your daughter did call you a Nowhere Man, it was probably just her way of saying she loves you. Probably. If not, she may have changed her mind by now. And if she hasn't, she will by the time she's 20 or 21 or 22 - 30 at the latest, Paul.
We confidently predict that you two will live in ''perfect harmony,'' to quote again from your latest album.
Meanwhile, there's the small matter of membership dues in our organization - than happy to honor your IOU for future royalties on ''Let It Be.''
Executive Committee, SSSF
(Society of Slightly Square Fathers)