Monday, September 11, was my dad’s birthday. As per my usual, I festively celebrated by calling him with Google Voice. My parents are old enough that a call from Australia seems amazing, never mind that it was totally free for me and they can also call me on a local number whenever they want. It was the first time we had talked in months.
It was 6 a.m., Sunday morning, in Missouri and my dad was getting ready for church. According to him, though, he was really answering peoples’ birthday wishes on Facebook. Our conversation wound around and around and around onto one odd topic after another until it finally digressed into an overly detailed description of a cyst he had removed. This is the hoarded detail of every day disgusting grit that my father clings to: the microscopic memory that will get in the way every time of a normal exchange and fill his mind up with so much useless clutter that he cannot properly talk to me.
On the one hand, I appreciate that ability that I’ve inherited to be completely distracted by something others would find banal but I see as amazingly beautiful. On the other, it’s painfully annoying to be flipped around in such a conversation that very abruptly ends with, “talk to your step-mother, bye.”