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Mar 10 2008

Why my mother is making me wear a ‘nice tailored suit’ today

My father died last week. He was pretty decent, for a dude. The official memorial service is today. When I get back from this thing — or rather, series of things, because apparently when people’s fathers die they have to relocate to Dallas and host catered affairs and entertain masses of out-of-towners and drop-in condolers and fidget through a ceaseless string of sentimental tributes to the departed patriarch — I will regale you with my caustic impressions of American funeral culture. But until then I can be seen lurching around the Metroplex between these assorted functions, wearing a gender-specific girl-suit and crippling girl-shoes, picked out for me by my mother, to whom I could not, for once, say no.

142 comments

  1. Savannah

    I’m sorry to hear of your loss and wish you the best.

  2. kristi

    So sorry to hear about your father. I’ll be thinking of you, both because I know how it feels to lose a father and because I loathe American funeral culture! (Though I have to admit I’m curious to hear your take on it.)

  3. feministgal

    I am so so sorry for your loss, i read the article about your dad that you linked (and then googled a bunch more). He seemed like a truly wonderful man, working for women his whole life. I am sure he will be very much missed by your family and community. My heart goes out to you and your family.

  4. Judy Wise

    My condolences. I love your blog.

  5. Midgetqueen

    My condolences. Both on the loss of your father, and for having to deal with the hokeyness that often happens in American funeral culture.

    I work in the industry myself, so I can’t really speak against such things. But I’m eagerly anticipating a Twisty-style skewering as only you can deliver!

  6. Pontiste

    Twisty, you have my deepest sympathies for the loss of your father.

  7. Elle

    Exactly what kristi said.

  8. ladoctorita

    many sympathies. he sounds like a very decent fellow indeed.

  9. ladoctorita

    Additional sympathies for forgetting to capitalize my previous sympathies. :(

  10. Cass

    I’m very sorry for your loss.

  11. Erica

    Twisty, you have my deepest sympathies.

  12. Shaina

    I’m very sorry, Twisty. We’re all here for you.

  13. Intransigentia

    I’m sorry for your loss. I wish I had something more to say than the standard phrases we haul out for these times, but please know I mean it with sincerity.

  14. CLD

    My condolences, Twisty. May your feet recover. Your father, based on the article you linked, was a wonderful human being. My sympathies to your mother and sister as well.

  15. Jess

    So sorry for your loss.

  16. TinaH

    I will join the chorus of folks offering their sympathies. I am sorry for your loss.

  17. ashley

    I’m sorry for you loss, Twisty. Hang in there!

  18. Lurker

    Twisty –
    I have wondered about your family, and I am pleased but not at all surprised to learn that your father was a kind, compassionate man, truly a gentleman! Please know that the thoughts of many people are with you as you endure the public rituals of this farewell to him.

  19. Lisa

    So sorry for your loss.

    Funerals suck.

  20. Linda Atkins

    I’m very sorry to learn your father has died. Please accept my condolences, as well.

  21. Jenny

    Sounds like your father lived his life well.

    Very sorry for your loss.

  22. Pinko Punko

    My thoughts are with you and your family.

    My deepest sympathies to everyone,

    PP

  23. Catherine

    I am so sorry for your loss. Your father did, indeed, seem like a very decent fellow. May your contact with funeral-industrial complex be relatively brief and uncomplicated.

  24. BadKitty

    I’m sorry for your loss. And I’m sorry you have to wear gender-appropriate clothing and I’m sorry you have to wear girl-shoes. I’m sorry you have to stand around and make small talk with complete strangers and people you may not be able to stand. I’m sorry for the whole damn ritual you have to undergo. When I’ve been forced to go through similar rituals, I kept silently chanting, “I’m doing this for my mother”. It helped.

    Here’s hoping for a quick return to the Twisty ranch where you can kick off your girl-shoes and raise a glass to your dad in private.

  25. jiyin

    Dear Twisty, I’m so sorry. From the Statesman obit, it seems that your father was a wonderful person indeed. My condolences to you and your family.

  26. MarilynJean

    Dead fathers suck. I know because I have one. Loss is different for everyone and I hope you are coping in the best way you know how. Thank you for a wonderful blog and sharing bits of your life with your readers.

  27. goblinbee

    Were the two of you close? How do you feel about his passing?

    And…how crippling? Just uncomfortable in the toes (which is plenty), or…HEELS??

    –g

  28. tinfoil hattie

    Twisty, I am so very sorry for your loss. Your father sounds like an incredible man.

  29. schatze

    My heartfelt sympathy goes out to you and your family. I have recently been there and it hurts. There isn’t enough goodness in our lives to lose any bit of it.

  30. Sandi

    Condolences. He does sound like a good person.

  31. Hilde Lindemann

    I join the others in extending sympathy for the father-shaped hole that now exists in your world. And as the mom of some grown-up daughters, can I also tell you I’m proud of you for dressing in a way that helps your mother get through this awful time?

  32. Elaine Vigneault

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Please know you’re in my thoughts today.

  33. Celeste

    I’m so sorry, Twisty. My condolences to you and your family.

  34. Jeanne B

    My deepest condolences on the loss of your father. I lost both of my parents in 2006. Peace be with you and your family.

  35. Feminist Avatar

    My sincerest condolences on your loss.

  36. smmo

    Your father clearly passed on his big heart to you. I’m so sorry.

  37. tigtog

    My sympathies, Twisty.

    Despite the hokiness of some funeral rituals, I have found that they do help to focus and pass through some of the hardest immediate aspects of grief. I sometimes think that bringing back the tradition of mourning clothes for the period immediately after a death in the family would also help, by reminding other people that it takes a while to get back to normal.

    Take care of yourself as well as your mum and sister.

  38. sphex

    I am so very sorry for you and your family.

  39. medrecgal

    So sorry to hear about the loss of your father. Sounds like he was a decent dude, and we know he raised at least one kick-ass feminist!

    As for funeral rituals…ouch! I’m not big on suits and heels, either. These are very anti-feminist, IMHO. The only good thing is that some cultures use funerals as a way to bring relatives closer together and create a unified group not based on gender but on love and respect for the recently deceased.

  40. marjorie

    Your dad sounds like he was quite an amazing human being. Just like you.

    You have my deepest condolences for your loss.

  41. Hawise

    I’m sorry for your loss.

  42. Amanda Marcotte

    My condolences at your loss. He sounds like a neat man.

  43. Narya

    I’ll join with the condolences, Twisty. Funeral Culture may be twisted and worthy of skewering, but my family is sufficiently weird that we’ve had to invent large parts of our rituals. What that’s helped me see, though, is that it isn’t all bad, either–that there’s something good about getting together with others who knew the person who died and acknowledging that that particular “community” has lost someone.

    Thanks for sharing your dad with us, and I hope that some of the helpful bits can surface for you, even through the girl-clothes.

  44. kit

    A nod of respect for your dad he sounds like he was a right decent guy. Hope you find some peace amidst all the rituals.

  45. Genevieve

    I’m sorry for your loss. Please take care of yourself during this difficult time.

  46. Urban

    Twisty,
    Sympathies and condolences for the loss of your father. I am thinking of you at this difficult time.

    I attended an American funeral once, about three years ago. I found it bizarre. I had to remove myself from some of the proceedings because I just couldn’t cope. I too will be interested to hear your take.

  47. sevanetta

    I’m so sorry to hear about that, Twisty. My sympathies to you and your family, and your feet as well. (You couldn’t bargain your mum down to some flats to go with your I-am-a-girl suit? I guess it’s not really a time to bargain, hey.)

    Sometimes going to funerals is not so much about your need to be there, but about the other people you’re going for. The last one I went to was like that for me – I went for the sake of the parents of the person who died, and also my own parents. Had to be there for them. They didn’t ask, I just wanted to go for them.

  48. Joanna

    Dear Twisty,
    I’m so very sorry. I have just returned from the funeral of my daughter’s grandfather. The rituals were not the ones I would have chosen, but his family was glad that everyone was there to remember him together.
    I send you a warm embrace.

  49. pisaquari

    Cheers to Senior T.F for the life he lead and to those he so meaningfully contributed!

    My thoughts and heart are with you Twisty.

  50. Clio Bluestocking

    So very sad. You have all my sympathies.

  51. ohsnap

    Peaceful passage for your father, Twisty.

  52. Lara

    I send you my condolences Twisty. It always hurts to lose a close one in the family, especially a father. Although American funerals stink with their obligatory fakeness and monotony, I will be waiting for your take on your dad’s funeral.
    Take care!

  53. Jay

    My father died nearly 18 months ago. He was decent, too, and my thoughts are with you. And your feet.

  54. Adairdevil

    My condolences, and my best wishes as you contend with the many travesties of American mourning.

  55. Ginger Mayerson

    Sorry, Twisty. He must have been a good guy. Also sorry you have mourn in heels, but maybe there’s some poetry in that I’m missing.

  56. slownews

    I’m so sorry about your dad.

    Re. funerals, I tend to think that I’m there for the closest bereaved. And since you have normal world, in which your nearest and dearest exist, and uncharted scary world, in which they do not, it may or may not help to have a few days of bizarro world between them, in which to mark the time and have other people telling you what to do — often handy when you’re in shock. (Expected deaths are still shocking.) Such is my current take on funeral ritual, which as you can tell, doesn’t hit me as worth the hard sell. Don’t ask me about casket costs, I dunno.

    My grandfather always insisted on a closed casket funeral. But when the time came, my grandmother couldn’t bear to have it shut. So it stayed open, six hour visitation plus funeral. Terrible, you say? All I know is that my grandfather, after 59 years of marriage, would have said that whatever grandma needed to get through was fine by him. And we figured, it’s his funeral. He’s not there. It’s finally one event directly related to your life that’s not about you. It’s about those who loved you, and helping them cope.

    Here’s hoping you get a chance sooner rather than later to do whatever it takes to get you through. In whatever headstyle and sartorial choice pleases you.

  57. kiki

    So sorry for your loss. I was trying to remember what I found consoling when my parents died and quickly realized the answer was; nothing. Margaritas all around.

  58. TP

    I’m very sorry for your loss. We only get one dad. My mixed emotions about my own dad would help very little if I were to face the human grief that losing him would cause; only the endless busywork and social bullshit of funerals, family and friends can shield us from that.

    Making fun of the American Funeral scene will be salutary for us all if you can spare the time. My heart goes out to you and all of your family! This time, I click the “Blame” button with nothing to blame.

  59. Spinning Liz

    Pancreatic cancer is the pits. I can only imagine how thoroughly sick of cancer you and your family must be by now. Enough already! My deepest heartfelt condolences to all of you.

  60. deja pseu

    My condolences to you and your family, so sorry for the loss of your father.

  61. gennimcmahon

    My deepest sympathies. Having my own father-dead-of-cancer I can only add that much of this funeral business will likely pass with a haze-like quality that may leave you with a sense of blurred motion and sharply sore toes.

    Also, I’m sure you are wearing some sort of non-gender compliant something–boxers? Sock garters?

  62. Sarmar

    I’m saddened to hear of your loss. Thank you for posting his obituary, and seems like a good person. Take care of yourself.

  63. estampa

    Condolences Twisty, may you find moments of deep breath and peace in the ensuing public sympathy pile-on that happens with beloved community figures.

  64. TwissB

    Twisty, you have my sincere sympathy on the death of your father who seems to have been a man with a generous spirit who, to judge from your example, certainly knew how to nurture a daughter or two.

    It did disappoint me to find that he was instrumental in promoting an old idea that I regard as sex discrimination on a silver platter. “Benign discrimination” as lawyers call it is a hopeless contradiction in terms and always costly to women. Sex-segregated schools were one of the issues men used to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment, continuing denial of women’s right to equal protection of the law. In a world where anything that really advances women’s equality is instantly trashed, the smiling encouragement the patriarchy gives to all-girls’ schools which institutionalize the notion of sex-based intellectual and behavioral difference should arouse feminist suspicion. It’s worth recalling that girls’ schools came into being not because of their effectiveness as education but because education was reserved for advantaging boys over girls for a lifetime. An old Texas school superintendent once ‘splained to me that “you have to be able to tell the boys from the girls.” And I told him that I could only think of two reasons why – and neither of them were to his credit – to do things that should not be done with children, or to be able to treat them differently.

    I would like to believe that a man who really wanted the best for girls would, if given a chance to think about it, have opted for supporting creation of schools dedicated to respecting the individuality and worth of all children.

  65. Sara

    So very sorry for your loss and for the uncomfy shoes that memorializing it entails.

    The rituals are for society, for giving structure, for doing honor in a way that his circle would recognize as honor.

    May the pain in your feet distract you, however briefly, from the pain in your heart.

  66. Jezebella

    Sorry about your dad. Keep on breathing in & out.

  67. slythwolf

    I never know what to say in these situations, because the most devastating bereavement I’ve suffered was when my first dog passed away, and I had made my peace with it before it happened because we all knew it was coming and it was time. I’m sorry for your loss, and I hope those close to you are being supportive.

  68. Alarming Female

    Well, Twisty, that just sucks. Very, very much. A four year struggle with pancreatic cancer is a mighty battle; my mother-in-law died five weeks after her diagnosis.

    It may be presumptuous of me to suspect his influence in your unceasing efforts to “subvert the dominant paradigm” of patriarchy, but I’d guess his and your mother’s efforts to improve the lives of young women reflect the values with which they raised you. If that’s not the case and I’ve got it completely wrong, please forgive me.

    And forgive yourself if you succumb to a non-vegetarian diet while on the funeral circuit. Comfort food is in abundance at times like these, and your mother will want to see you eat.

    My best to you—

  69. jinnan-tonnyx

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Twisty.

  70. donna

    Condolences to you and your family. Take care.

  71. delphyne

    I’m very sorry for your loss Twisty. Your Dad sounds like he was one of the good ones.

  72. dr.sue

    Twisty, I’m so sorry. It does sound like your father was a fine person, but in the end that doesn’t matter much–he was your dad, and he’s gone. It has sounded from previous posts like you, your mother, and your sister share deep bonds of affection despite differences of opinion about clothing, etc., and I hope this sustains you all through this hard time.

  73. Sasha

    I’m terribly sorry for your loss Twisty. I hope the pain lessens quickly so you can revel in remembering the best of times.

  74. Becki Jayne

    My condolences, Twisty. Wishing you peace during this time of loss.

  75. Bardiac

    I’m sorry for your loss. A good dad is a rare thing indeed.

    When my own Dad died, a woman came up to me after the service and said that she’d known him since they were in kindergarten together. She told me what a good person he’d been all along. Though I didn’t really know her, I think services are for sharing with people you didn’t know you needed to share with, if that makes sense.

    My best to you and your family.

  76. Catherine Martell

    I’m very sorry to hear about your father. I’m not familiar with American funerals except through Jessica Mitford, but I think ritualistic funerals generally are quite useful. All that hosting of catered affairs and wearing of nicely-tailored suits can be quite a useful distraction from reality.

    Your father sounds like an excellent taqueau. I’m sorry for your loss, and Austin’s. My thoughts are with you.

  77. Superlagirl

    I’m so sorry, Twisty.

  78. leslie

    I’m so sorry. 4 years is an incredibly long siege with pancreatic cancer.

  79. djs

    please accept my condolences on the loss of your father. may all those he loved and all who loved him treasure his memory. djs

  80. curiousgyrl

    ditto to the above. and I hope you dont hate to wear the wig AND the pantsuit. At least not with out a matching 10 gallon hat.

  81. foilwoman

    Sorry for you loss. Obviously your dad was “pretty decent for a dude” if he was part of the team that raised you. Tough times. If putting you in girl clothes makes your mother happy right now, you’re right, that’s not a fight that needs to be won. Take care.

  82. Puffin

    Good thoughts your family’s way, Twisty. Take care.

  83. tata

    So sorry to hear of your loss. Just went through it myself. It’s very painful, but it gets better.

  84. Emily

    My Condolences, Twisty.

  85. legallyblondeez

    I hope the girl-suit is at least of an aesthetically pleasing texture and does not have ridiculous darts. The shoes, there’s not much one can do about.

    I’m sorry to hear that your father is gone. I’m glad to hear that he was a decent dude.

  86. Calabama

    So sorry to hear about your dad, Twisty. But, wow, what a whole lot of good he did in the world! Take care of yourself.

  87. Gertrude Strine

    It’s a funeral.
    One isn’t really supposed to feel comfortable at them.
    My choice would be girl-clothes contemporary fashion over sackcloth and ashes, I think.

    Sorry, poor girl, so sorry.

  88. magickitty

    What a great dad you had. Nice to know you come from a family of blame. Be sure to do something blameworthy at the funeral – something he would have liked to see, I’ll bet.

  89. charlotte

    What a great dad you had–wow! The article makes him sound almost like an inner-city Robin Hood.

    Sending you lots of love and light, Twisty. Funerals and individual goodbyes go together like square pegs and round holes … please take good care of yourself.

  90. MissPrism

    I’m really sorry to hear this. Your dad sounds like a wonderful man.

  91. therealUK

    Sorry Twisty, condolences to your family, and take care.

  92. Theener

    I used to see commercials for Palm Harbor Homes all the time when I lived in Arizona. It’s interesting to know that your dad founded it.

    I’m very sorry for your loss, Twisty, and wish peace upon you and your family.

  93. Debbie

    I am so sorry for your loss… and the shoes…

  94. rootlesscosmo

    Very sorry about your Dad, Twisty.

  95. Violet Socks

    I’m so sorry, Twisty. My deepest sympathy to you and your family.

  96. Mar Iguana

    I am deeply sorry to hear about the death of your Dad.

  97. josquin

    Dear Twisty,

    I’m very sorry to hear of the loss of your father.
    All solace and comfort to you and your mom and sister.

  98. Ron Sullivan

    Ah, Twisty. I’m sorry to hear that. My sympathy to you and your family.

    And your feet.

  99. Hattie

    Condolences. Take care of yourself.

  100. No Blood for Hubris

    Sorry for your loss, Twisty.

  101. Ann Bartow

    Really sorry, Twisty. One thing I can tell you that you might not have considered: you did a very great thing by outliving him! Not kidding. Losing a parent is horrible, but: Outlive your mom too, by decades please. Sounds like at least a fraction of your awesomeness came from you dad, and for that and his other good works I honor him. You too.

  102. ma'am

    I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer last summer. He was the only person in my family with whom I could actually identify. I am so sorry for your loss. Funerals are dizzying and bewildering. Find the time to grieve however you need to. Even if it takes a long time.

  103. amazonmidwife

    I am sorry, Twisty. I hope that you were able to spend lots of time with him before he died, and that the time was as good as it could be. As for the funeral drag, once the immediate discomfort ends, you’ll not regret doing what you could for your mom.

  104. alceinwdld

    so sorry for your loss, twisty.

  105. Zeep

    My sympathies to you and your family. Hang in there.

  106. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    You & your family have my deepest sympathy on the passing of your dad. Long may he run. And I’m sure your mom & Tidy appreciate your support (in girl shoes, no less). Be good to one another.

    For those of us who might be able, can you provide further information on donations we could make to his cause in your name? I know there are a passle of Blamers who’ve been inspired by you who would love to contribute.

  107. anne

    I’m so sorry to hear this, Twisty. You have my sincere condolences. Your dad sounds like he was a great guy. No surprise – look how awesome you are!

    Best wishes.

  108. Rhonda

    I am sorry for the loss of your father… it does indeed sound like he was a decent guy…

  109. Niki

    Sorry to hear about your da and the not helpful process that follows. I’m glad my da didn’t believe in ceremony and hated funerals. My immediate family mourned his death by getting drunk at a bar in a city that he loved, talking until two A.M. and shunning the presence of others.

    You’re also lucky you had a good guy dad, as am I. They are apparently extremely rare. I miss him every time someone talks about their shitty dad, which is daily.

  110. betsyl

    i’m so sorry, twisty. he sounds like a good man.

  111. eve

    Twisty,

    I am so sorry for the loss of your dad. I hope you are able to survive the funeral happenings with a minimum of pain and suffering, due to clothes or your loss.

  112. Dr. Steph

    I’m so sorry for your loss Twisty.

    My dad died of cancer less than a year ago (also a good guy) and I know how difficult it is.

  113. Bitey

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  114. Denise

    I am very sorry for your loss. I attended a funeral this weekend and, although some of the religious aspects were mystifying, it was generally good to gather together to remember my great-aunt. I hope you will find some comfort in the experience.

  115. slade

    How wonderful to have had such a kind man in your life, Twisty. A pretty decent dude indeed. Take good care of yourself…eat, drink, eat some more, and a good cry is highly underrated. Wish I could offer more…I do find Aerosoles shoes the least painful of the acceptable female dress/career footwear.

  116. majanet

    So sorry to read this news. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  117. Hecate Demetersdatter

    May the Goddess guard him. May he find his way to the Summerlands. May his friends and family know peace.

  118. betsy

    I’m so sorry.

  119. Gender Blank

    Twisty,

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  120. Helen

    Although I don’t know you, I hope you accept my sympathies, he sounds like a wonderful guy (and obviously, passed that on to his offspring) Look after yourself, hug dogs and horse.

  121. Indi

    I am so sorry for the loss of your dad. My father died on 29th Feb. My mother did not want me to participate in any funeral rites, because I am a daughter, only sons,male relations, male acquaintances and male friends have the right to perform the last rites in India. I had to accept that for her sake. I was sad and angry both. When I read the name of your blog it was like I was reading my own thoughts.

  122. fishboots

    You have my thoughts and good wishes. I am sorry for your loss. I hope your mom is okay, too.

  123. nina

    My sincere condolences.

  124. wheelomatic

    Twisty’s pa = pretty decent dude
    cancer = sucks large insert-your-own-gross-thing-here.
    Twisty and the Faster Clan = in my thoughts for peace and calm and rest

  125. Jodie

    My condolences. Funerals suck. I’ve been to far too many.

  126. Erin

    I’m so sorry for your loss. He sounds like a great man.

  127. Aunti Disestablishmentarian

    I’m sending virtual padding for your blistered feet, and aching soul.

  128. Marigoldie

    All good things to you. XO.

  129. invisible hussein

    Dear Twisty, I’m very sorry for any sadness you feel. I, myself, did not feel any sadness when my own daddy died. That’s what I always called him. Anyway, I was angry! and glad! when he died. Let’s just say there were a lot of issues. I’ve since softened in this regard and no longer hold him in complete and utter contempt. I guess there were some good things.

    Anyway, having said all that, I must now say that no one ever told me that Twisty Faster was so addictive. I sometimes find myself saying to myself—in this two-dimensional computer world, yikes—”I need Twisty!”. Like, I need a Twisty fix, fast!

    What is up with that?

  130. Betsy

    I’m so sorry to hear the sad news. I wish you and your family all possible comfort.

    By the person that you are, I can imagine that your father must have been a wonderful person. Thanks for letting us know about your situation, Twisty.

  131. mearl

    May your dad’s legacy of good will to women live on in you and your awesome blog. My own dad is a louse, so I can’t relate, but I send my condolences to you and your family.

  132. Vera

    I’m sorry for your loss, Twisty. I read about the foundation your father and mother started–what inspirational parents you have! I’m sure he will be greatly missed.

  133. sheanight

    Sorry for your loss.
    I live in DFW, sorry your visit will not be relaxing one.

    Also, I’ve been meaning to tell you how much I enjoy your blog.

  134. CJ

    I’m so sorry, Twisty. :(

  135. Crys T

    Twisty, sorry this is late, but I haven’t stopped by for quite a while now.

    I’m so sorry to hear about your father. Please accept my condolences and best wishes.

  136. Orange

    Sorry you lost your dad, Twisty. Mine died almost seven years ago.

    That fucking cancer, man. It is no damn good.

  137. jerry

    You have my best wishes. I miss my parents everyday, even many many years later.

  138. Ms Kate

    Twisty, I feel for you quite directly. My own mother died a couple of days before your father passed. Fortunately, she didn’t want a funeral but a summer party and scattering at see, so its a different kind of suit – a wetsuit – for me and a kayak next summer.

    (starts crying again)

    I’m very sorry. He was a very decent man, and it sounds like he gave a large number of young women a chance to escape the more degrading clutches of the patriarchy.

  139. flea

    Twisty,

    I’m very sorry for your loss.

    I never have anything poignant to add after unfortunate circumstances compel me to say it, but please know it’s the truth.

  140. Doug

    Your sentences are long. I like long sentences. Sorry about your father.

  141. Octogalore

    I am sorry, Twisty. He sounds like a wonderful person.

  142. That Girl

    Im sorry, Twisty. I send you my wish for your peace.

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