John didn't care what the road was called. He let his little girl name it, his little ray of sunshine. She called it Frying Pan Road. He took her to a psychologist.

“I think she's, uh, sexist,” John said. They sat opposite from Dr. Schulte, split from him by the psychologist's sensible, modern glass-and-steel desk. The room was like a little jungle, vines working around the walls, exotic plants peeking up from around the black leather couch against the back wall and hanging down in bursts of vibrant purples and oranges in the corners. The plants were all plastic.

Dr. Schulte smiled through a fat beard and looked at John with friendlike eyes. He looked at John's daughter, little Jezebel with her sun-gold curls and her cherubic face and the sun dress with the hem that flopped around her knees as she kicked her little legs.

John hadn't cared what his daughter was called, so he let his wife name her, and then his wife left him with little Jez so she could go drown on a cruise, fucking that new doctor friend of hers. Amanda, he'd thought right afterwards. Amanda would've been a perfectly nice name.

“She named a road Frying Pan Road,” he said. “I want to bring her up right, you know. I don't want her to think that she can only use kitchen words. She can do whatever she wants.”

“Well, to be fair to little . . . Jezebel?” Dr. Schulte squinted at him as if he wanted to adjust a pair of glasses that weren't perched on his broad nose. “The kitchen is something.”

“But I mean, like, dream higher, you know?” John said. “I guess, I dunno, a doctor or something.”

“And what do you do?” Dr. Schulte asked.

Jezebel leaned over the arm of her armchair so she could peer at a bell-shaped flower that seemed to inch toward her, to kiss at her. Her mouth was open in a smile and she giggled.

“I'm a civil engineer - stop that, honey.” John laid his hand on his daughter's arm as she reached out for the plant. Her chair began to tilt. “Jez. Jez!” Dr. Schulte leaned forward lazily, a half-urgent look on his face. John grabbed the arm of the chair and brought it down on all four legs again. John sighed. Dr. Schulte sighed, too. He didn't want to have to appear more concerned than that.

“Would you like her to be a civil engineer?” Dr. Schulte asked.

“Not really,” John said. “Not a glamorous job. Important but not important, you know?”

“Um, no,” Dr. Schulte said. “What does a civil engineer do?”

Jezebel reached forward and grasped onto the desk. John and Dr. Schulte looked at her. John reached out to her halfway, but she wasn't falling so he tried to concentrate on why they were here.

“I plan out roads and bridges and stuff,” John said. “You know, it's important, people need roads. But nobody will say like . . . 'Thank you, Mr. Thompson, that road you built really saved my life!' ”

Dr. Schulte tented his fingers and placed his elbows on top of his desk. Jezebel put her elbows on top of the desk, too, and then her little chest and her chin.

“Would you like them to?” Dr. Schulte asked. “To thank you for your work, that is.”

John shrugged and sank back into the very comfortable chair he was sitting in. “I guess,” John said. “But I realize it's something that doesn't get a lot of fanfare. I'm okay with it. I made my peace back in grad school.”

“What did you want to do?” Dr. Schulte's eyebrow hiked upward. Jezebel dragged herself onto the desk and swung her purple-and-white-sneakered foot up onto the desk. “A different kind of engineering, maybe?”

John smiled inwardly. “Well, uhm, I wanted . . . I always wanted to do something like the Empire State Building,” he said. “Build something really, really great, you know? Then people would remember me. Not just like Frank Lloyd Wright. I mean, he was a visionary, but I mean . . . something spectacular. Like that new thing they're building in Dubai? I wish I had planned that.”

Jezebel stood on the desk now and pointed down at Dr. Schulte.

“Frying pan!” she said.

Dr. Schulte and John looked up at her. She giggled.

“Frying pan!” she said again. “Frying pan! Frying pan!”

“Jez, honey, you don't only need to use kitchen words,” John said, leaning forward and reaching out so that if she wanted to jump into his arms and get down she could. “You can use whatever words you want.”

Jezebel took small steps toward the psychologist and crouched down so she was eye level with his forehead. He peered at her curiously. She touched his nose.

“Frying pan!” she said.