Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Father Myself


Today I got my flu shot at Kaiser and because it's pretty late in the day for such preventive measures the line was short and thus I had time to banter with the woman giving the shots. When I was growing up, my father both embarrassed and delighted me. He styled himself a personable fellow who brought charm and wit to every encounter.

And he did or he didn't, depending on your taste for self-regarding bullshit. But he always put the ball in play, and as every major leaguer knows, that's about a quarter of the battle.

Oh I know it's emotional empty calories, all this small talk, and sometimes my dad's neediness was so transparent I was humiliated for him. But he seemed oblivious, and sometimes life is simpler if you take people at their affect and when it comes to others just leave the decoding of the signs and symbols of the subconscious alone.

Anyway, my dad loved to tease -- only connect! -- and I liked it and didn't like it, and I am his true blood son and I think that's why I do some of it myself: Hey, I'm here!

And today in the atrium of the third floor of the Fabiola Building in the Kaiser complex on Broadway in Oakland, California, I *bantered* with the woman who was giving shots, and giving them very well, too.

Just talking about this and that, you know. But once I was poked and bandaged, I did suggest she must dream of plump upper arms at night, and she allowed as how she did, adding, "You wouldn't believe some of the tattoos I've seen."

And I realized I'd just learned something and thought that if I was still an assignment editor, I'd have an assignment. And as a feature writing teacher, I now had a suggestion.

So thanks, Pops. You were obscure and died having fallen short, at least in your own mind. But you were not a *mute* inglorious Milton, and your son thanks you for it.
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3 comments:

david silver said...

nice.

happy thanksgiving to you and eydie.

Peter Moore said...

I think I had the same woman. I mentioned to her that my coworkers had complained that the shots this year seemed to hurt more than in years past. She took (mock) offense and assured me that her shots didn't hurt and true to her word, it was a painless prick and no sore shoulder.
Let's not talk about my knee.

Happy Thanksgiving as well

....J.Michael Robertson said...

How nice to get comments about something referring to my old man, who shaped me and mishaped me. At some point, it's your own fault,of course. Whenever I try to make small talk, it's like living in an echo.