Saturday, December 4, 2010

Favorite Fruit

I'm hearing this radio food show, all about people planning dates or Hanukkah meals or stuff. It's so very strange. Not that I don't eat, and I have been known to enjoy someone's cooking -- but to actually have a conversation about it? So strange. Someone asked me the other day what my favorite fruit was. I have no idea. I had to reframe it, away from nutritional content, into her frame of reference. So while I was stalling, she said, "Well, how about vegetable?" And I had the same problem. There are foods that I eat, but the idea that they would be a favorite seems like putting too much effort into having an opinion. I know what she wanted. She was planning on cooking something.

Then one of them came at me like she was going to hug me goodbye. And I said, "I know what you're thinking. No hugging." She wanted to give me a lecture about how to talk to 'girls.' "No, baby, I'll tell you how to talk to girls." Not really. My editor works most of the time. But I did say that thing about hugs, and she wanted to be offended. Lord. It's so much work, futile, even trying. Please, give me an opportunity to be offended.

Therefore I've been thinking about my father again, conversations, or diatribes, that I myself have never had. Please, disown me. Leave me out of your will. Never call, please never send me a letter, never talk about me, never think about me. Please. I am completely capable of saying that. I already think it. But we have to play the game -- you know, that game God set the rules for, about keeping our mouths shut sometimes.

The specific this time is the cold burning shame-laden memory of one of the times he asked me if I was gay. I was in my mid-thirties. "Uh, no, I'm not gay." And he argued with me. Gave evidence, as he considered it. And I was too, what, taken aback? -- to answer the fool according to his folly. I don't actually remember the evidence. I listened to classical music? I read books? I didn't care about sports? Faggy stuff like that.

But later I figured it out. I was helping him coach his son, my half-brother, on a baseball team, 9- and 10-year-olds. My son, same age, was on it too. And I was fond of some of the boys, and hugged them. One in particular. Sorry, I know, creepy. But he had an older asshole brother, and I was empathetic.

That's it. That's the evidence, the real. I figured it out. So the proper question from my father, dad, should have been, "Are you a homosexual pedophile?"

And indeed, later I was a foster parent, single, to young boys. So there you go then. That's not a story I've actually told before. What do you do with that. What crime, what offense, did I commit, to earn that? Now it's stored up like a treasure in my heart, and I suppose I'll come if I'm summoned, for more and continuing weirdness yet again, and go to his funeral. Because there's no such thing as freedom. Either you sear your conscience, or it sears you.

That's what I spend my Saturdays thinking about. Almost always, it's so hard to be around people.


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