Aug 4, 2019

I don’t have many pictures of my dad and me together. (And contrary to what my computer thinks, “me” is correct because it’s the object of a preposition, a rule that nobody seems to remember anymore.) There we both are with our eyes closed, holding our drinks, legs sprawling—unlike my brother whose eyes are open and who’s drinking out of his cup. If you could see the picture in color, as it once was before it faded to sepia, you would see my dad are both freckled redheads…and, the truth is, we are very alike in many ways, even beyond our physical appearance. But my attitude in the snapshot is a mirror image of his, with my cup in the opposite hand and my leg curled in the opposite direction. How telling, I think to myself—because in other ways, I’m my father’s opposite—the negative to his positive. For my father was always unassailably sure of himself, implacably secure in the knowledge of his intellectual superiority to just about everybody else. He didn’t seem to have many of the feelings most of the rest of us do. He didn’t experience fear—of death, for example—or anxiety, like the paralyzing the performance fright I still struggle with—or depression, which hung over my life from puberty until my mid-thirties, with only a few bright spots. I was ever his polar opposite, experiencing intensely all the feelings he didn’t. And that, of course, was no accident.