So we started July with a certain amount of momentum, and I made some changes in our routine. She still did her posture exercises, and twice a day read her smut while masturbating. Maybe more that twice a day, for all I know. Her three folders of stories were filling up. No, the changes were more subtle. The training always remained separate from our day-to-day relationship, but a little less so. I stopped referring to the weekly testing events as 'dates.' They were always for testing purposes, but they became dates, without the quotation marks, and then became just enjoyable special things we did together, that provided an environment for the testing. I stopped being 'Jack,' some fictitious guy she had a 'date' with, and was myself, a stepfather trying to teach his stepdaughter what she needed to know to get along, and show her a good time in the process. And after our weekly dates, we brought things to a climax, so to speak, in my bed. No more wrestling in cars, thank you. The post mortems continued, as we cuddled and talked about our sensations. But when we were done, I always sent her back to sleep in her own bed. This process was still 'training,' and not an almost-incestuous affair. We had started the process with a goal, and it was continuing toward that goal, even though we didn't speak of it any more. And after the first 'date,' I didn't bring up Central High, or high school boys. All the same, if I wanted to have a harvest at the end of the summer, I needed to plant some seeds now. They would take time to sprout. "Allison, tell me what you know about relationships." I loved dropping these things on her out of the blue. But I'd done it often enough now that she had learned to keep her mouth shut until she'd begun to organize an answer. "You mean, like husband-wife?" "Be more general. People relationships." "Hm. From what I can see, one way to organize them is by how much they have legal recognition. You've got employer- employee, which often has a written contract, husband-wife which may, boyfriend-girlfriend which won't, and like that." "Fine. Take that set, though obviously there are others, of varying durations: shop clerk-customer, parent-child, ex- husband-ex-wife. Pimp-whore." She gave me a shocked look. Still some prudishness left from Saint Virginia. "Each one is a type of relationship. Generalize across all of them. What's a relationship?" "They all have a set of assumptions and permissions, I guess. Each participant assumes certain things about the behavior of the other, and gives permission for behaviors to the other." "A little pop-psych, but that's a start. And are the assumptions and permissions permanently defined?" "Sometimes, in part." The girl would make a good consultant someday. "I mean, take husband-wife. There are legal restrictions, like about economic support, and assumptions, about sex and such. Some behaviors society or laws don't permit in a relationship if anyone complains, like abuse in a marriage, or intercourse between a parent and child. Beyond that, I guess the couple gets to choose, like who takes out the garbage." I summarized, "So all relationships of any type are not the same, and any given type of relationship may change, within limits, over time. No surprise: look at us, stepfather- stepdaughter. We changed our relationship in some ways when Jane died, and again when we began this training. And usually, two people can change the /type/ of relationship they're in, if they choose. Of course, some types of relationship are forever and can't be left behind, like biological parent and child. But generally, you see changes of type all the time: clerk-customer become boyfriend- girlfriend, become husband-wife, become father-mother, become ex-husband-ex-wife. Relationships often fall apart if the permissions and assumptions of one party don't match the other's. Sometimes two people can't find a 'pre- defined' relationship that works for them, and have to make up a new type of their own. And each change of type has a ceremony or event that marks the transition, maybe as simple as the first kiss, maybe signing a contract, maybe as elaborate as a church service." "Sure, what's the point?" "Exactly, what's the point of all this training you asked for?" Well, she didn't exactly ask for it, but I took every opportunity to confuse her recollections on that point. "Why do you want to date? Is this just in support of, I don't know, 'random social activity?' Does it stop at that, or are you looking beyond that to a goal, something more permanent, and if so, have you thought about what you want? You want to land a guy? If so, how do you choose which one to go after? What's the relationship you want? How do you want to be treated? What lights your fire? As you said, what's the point? I don't want an answer. I don't expect you to have an answer, and if you did, I expect it would change as you grow. But to misquote the Cheshire Cat, if you don't have an idea of the relationship you want to wind up in, any guy is as good as any other. Think about it as you go through the summer." I went off to make lunch. All this hoeing and seeding was hard work. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her pick up her three folders of stories and start leafing through them. Good.