Monday, October 03, 2005

What Free People Choose, or, What Happens to Free People

a second excerpt from "Indecision," by Benjamin Kunkel

We were walking toward the islandy clump or copse of trees in the direction of which I'd -- whoops -- hit my ball. Once when I was seventeen I'd deliberately knocked my ball that way in order to duck into the dappled shade and take a hit off of this little one-hitter I'd carried with me at the time, since I was then in the grips of a conviction that weed made you see things more truly, clearly, and that was how I wanted to see dad, in order to check out whether, defamiliarized a little, the guy was basically a good guy or what. On that occassion when I exited the trees disguised by Visine and breath mints and those aviator-type Ray-Bans we all used to wear, he'd struck me as just some bluff pink-faced ghoul of a commodity-trading genius who had chosen the main features of his life in order to make himself into some weird totem of his social position, instead of -- I don't know -- following the mad, barking dictates of his soul wherever those might have led, like possibly to Vermont or else northern California. I mean, how could any free person choose, from the whole universal range, to be this dad and moneyman and golfer, a resident of northwestern Connecticut walking around in WASP casual, going to the reunions, belonging to the clubs, and describing himself -- still, or at least then -- as a Rockefeller Republican?

But now in light of my own recent actions and, even more, my damaging reluctance to carry them out, I tried experimenting with the conclusion that dad's scotch-and-golf-oriented generation wasn't so different, in terms of courage, from my more weed-and-rock-climbing one; that it was a pretty unusual life that didn't travesty the better nature of the person inside it; and that dad's very dad-like knowledge about many things, and intermittent basic decency, and astounding handiness, made him not such a bad person at all, despite any reservations I may have had about the rate of his scotch drinking, and any sorrow I may have experienced at having become, thanks to him, and along with Alice, another child of divorce.


Post a Comment

<< Home