Part One: Useless Emotion
Four: Dad and Dede
Six: Every Other Week
Eight: Dad's House
Part Two: Useless Education
Nine: St. Mark's
Part Three: Repetition
Part Four: Resolution
Eighteen: Scraped Over Too Much Bread
IN THE BEGINNING we were happy. And we were always excessive. So in
the beginning we were happy to excess.
WE WERE MOM and Dad and Ithree palindromes!and we lived eight hundred feet in the air above San Francisco; an apartment at the top of a building at the top of a hill: full of light, full of voices, full of windows full of water and bridges and hills.
Mom was the center. Mom was irresistible. Whatever she was saying or wearing or smelling of was captivatingall our senses were attuned to her. As soon as I was old enough to walk I tried on her shoes and evening gowns and perfume, admired and wanted to be like her, so much that they had me seeing a shrink by the time I was three. The shrink said I needed to spend more time with my dad. But how? Mom was irresistible.
Mom had published two booksone about throwing parties, one about battling malevolent ghostsand was working on a third, about her childhood in Texas and Oklahoma.
As far as I could tell Dad's job was to please Mom. He was solicitous and full of care. He gave Mom everything she wanted. He helped her want things she did not know to want.
Early every morning, Mom, Dad, and I took walks around Russian Hill in matching blue jumpsuits with white piping, Royal Tenenbaumsstyle.
ONE SUNDAY, on a shrink-mandated father-and-son outing, Dad took me across the bay on the ferry, re-creating the commute he made as a boy, before the Golden Gate Bridge was completed, from Catholic school in San Francisco to his home in Marin. Halfway there it started to rain, and we didn't have any umbrellas, so when we arrived we stood in a doorway near the water.
Dad hadn't shaved since Friday morning before work, and he looked rough. Even I could see it. Our matching jumpsuits were sad without Mom. Dad lit a cigarette. We looked out at the water.
A man with a box and an umbrella strode past, glanced at us, stopped fifty feet on, turned, walked back, and handed the box to Dad.
"I can't give you anything else," he said. "But take this."
From Oh The Glory Of It All by Sean Wilsey. Copyright 2005 Sean Wilsey. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, The Penguin Press.
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