Uit: The Bill from My Father
“He leaned close. “Let me ask you something.”
I wanted to be as frank as possible. If there was a medical ordeal ahead, maybe we’d have a last chance at attachment. I looked into his eyes. “Ask me anything you want.”
“Why…,” he said, then hesitated.
“Go on.” I urged him.
“Why are you reading the Ladies’ Home Journal?”
“Why did you pick that magazine out of all the magazines in the waiting room? There must be I don’t know how many others to chose from and you picked that.”
The March issue had been lying on my lap, opened to a double-page photo of the creamiest seafood bisque I’ve ever seen, a kind of culinary centerfold. I thought I’d cook it for Brian and was about to rip out the recipe. Even in a time of crisis, Dad found a way to goad me like a pro. “Nobody here cares if I’m reading a men’s magazine or a women’s magazine!” I glanced around the waiting room to see if I could spot a man reading Today’s Bride or a woman reading Popular Mechanics, but where is proof when you really need it? “Ideas about masculinity and femininity are different now than they were in your day.” I thought back to the hot afternoon I’d been cinched into my father’s jumpsuit, drunk on rum punch and basted in my own perspiration, staggering through a backyard filled with dykes disguised as housewives who were really machines. “People today are more…flexible.”
“I’ll bet,” he said.
The man in the wheelchair wasn’t even pretending not to listen. His eyes met mine and glistened with interest. His posture improved.
I said, “You were trying to change the subject is what you were trying to do. Then we wouldn’t have to talk about why you’re here. Well, it’s not going to work.” But it had, of course, worked like a charm. Conversation between us ceased. We folded our arms and glowered straight ahead.
“Dad,” I said, “I hate that one of us always has to be right.”
“I’m not the one who always has to be right. You are.”
Bernard Cooper (Hollywood, 3 oktober 1951)