screaming into the eye of the lens
Last night, the phone rang while I was in my bathroom, doing my semi-annual flossing of my teeth.
I carefully unwrapped my fingers, and let the minty floss dangle between my first and second bicuspid.
Caller ID on the cordless said it was my parent's house. I pushed talk.
"Hey Wil, It's Dad."
"Hi Dad. What's up?"
"Well, I hadn't read your site in a few days . . ." he said.
I immediately thought about those footlights from yesterday.
"Oh?" I said. "I wrote some stuff that totally doesn't suck."
"I know! Your mother was wondering why I hadn't finished making dinner," he said, "now she knows! I've been in my office laughing with you."
I was speechless. My dad doesn't make these calls. I sat down on the edge of my bathtub.
"Gee, dad," I said, "Thanks."
"When I listened --" He stopped himself, and said, "I mean, when I read what you wrote, I could --"
There was a long silence. I wondered if the phone had gone dead.
"Yeah . . . sorry," he said, puzzled and with great effort, "I'm getting choked up and I don't know why."
"Maybe my dad is proud of me," I thought . . .
. . . but I didn't say it.
"It's like . . ." He trailed off. I felt like he was struggling to find the words.
"It's like I can hear their voices. You've captured them exactly the way I remember them." His voice was thick and distant.
Have you ever seen your father cry? You know how it makes you feel so . . . awkward? Like this invincible person is just as human as you are? I felt compelled to speak. The last time I saw my dad cry was at my grandfather's funeral.
"Gosh, Dad . . ." I said, " . . . thank you. It's been really fun to write the past couple of days. It makes me happy when I recall that day. When I write about it, I get to be there again."
"Well, it really comes across," he said. His voice had returned to normal. "It's really good, and I can't wait to read more."
"Thank you, " I said, "I'm so glad that you called to tell me."
"Me too." Now I have to go finish dinner or your mom is going to kill me."
He laughed. I smiled.
"I understand. Thanks, Dad."
"I love you, Wil," he said.
"I love you too, Dad."
I pushed talk to hang up the phone, and pulled the floss from my teeth.
I faced the mirror, and looked into his eyes.