Sunday, June 19, 2011

Being A Father

We never see our parents as people, do we? People who might have had real lives before we came on the scene, people who had adventures, people who did cool things just because. We might have a glimmer of this when we're older, perhaps when we're looking at photos of them from long ago, but by that time we've got kids of our own and we've discovered ourselves just how uninteresting our former lives are to them. But in the meantime we see them as ladders to our next steps, or a form of bank manager, or even the camp cook.

I came home last night, having spent the afternoon up island with FDPG, and Richard was playing guitar in the family room. He is trying to master a song that we saw initially in a lipdub. It's a very catchy tune and it reminds me of many a British pop song, past or present. Given that Richard is from Britain, it doesn't surprise me at all that he likes this song, but it perplexes his teen son, who of the age where watching his father play a pop song on a guitar - and sing, for heaven's sake - seems just plain weird. He doesn't stop to consider his own long hours, sitting in his room, banging away monotonously on his keyboard, droning out the same chord over and over again, evidently.

As soon as I walked in the door he sidled up to me. "Dad has been playing that song all afternoon," he confided, as though we should be getting out the Advil.

"Oh," I said, "he likes that song. So do I. He just wants to learn it." "Why?" Max replies, still unable to comprehend that his father might have the same pop star leanings he does. I could say that his dad used to be quite the classical guitarist, that he'd even won competitions in his teens, and that when I met him he was the guy who played guitar and sang at beach parties, but I don't. It would probably cause Max to run screaming from the room. His parents - doing cool things? Eeks.

"Because it's a fun song and he likes playing the guitar," I say instead. I am laughing by this time, and so is Richard. It's funny seeing a 14 year old so unnerved by his aged, past it, should-be-sedate-by-now parents.

"Oh," he says, finally. "Hmm. IN-teresting." He then thumps down the stairs to his room, sits at his desk, and resumes his monotonous, bass-heavy, banging away. I file this memory away for another day, for the day when the grown up Max is a father himself, watched by his own puzzled children as he hauls out his aged keyboard and picks out his own tune, thinking of other times and other songs. A day I might not be around to see, but I know it will come. They always do.

Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there. And to all you potential fathers.

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