Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fathers and Sons

Thankfully the woman blasting her ipod got off at Jay so I didn't have to hear any more blaring trumpets or crashing cymbals. She seemed to be sleeping, or at last very peaceful. I have a hard time understanding some people's medicine. Then a man sat down with his son so I scooted over from the middle seat to make room for them. This was a very affectionate father who discussed the workings of the F and G with his boy as they leaned into each other and we waited on the Culver Viaduct for the G to pull out. They were speaking a classic father/son dailect that involved train signals and switches and things. They remained on the train after I got off at my stop and headed over towards Prospect. My neighbor Pat was in front of his house as he usually is these days, keeping his young son, also called Pat, out of harm's way. Young Pat likes to talk but I can't yet understand him, so when he spoke to me I looked to his father for a translation. None could be provided, and then, seeing his father's embarrassment, I wished I'd let it all go with a vacuous smile.

On Prospect I'd just scavenged this book published in 1968 called The Fun Encyclopedia by E.O. Harbin, who must have been well versed in the dialectics of play. But his son? The dedication (above) makes you wonder. How lucky this Tommy would be if he wound up being as facile in the spectrum of amusement his father outlines for those with poorly developed funny bones, so much more important back in the day before wii-playstation-xbox-ds-nick jr etc. And so much more social. Perhaps Tommy, like his father, had become proficient at breaking or at least attempting to break the ice through any one of the following techniques outlined in the book: the dummy line, choo-choo, impromptu circus, bumpety bump bump, sack shake, hurly burly, lucky handshaker, cobweb mixer, zoo, rummage, secret couples, shaker, dramagrams, confessions, blind handshake, zip, spiral handshake, blind postman, spin the platter...

Sounds like a treasure chest of awkwardness neutralizers to me, if not a tanker of uranium rich rods to cook up a meltdown. I don't believe I've had the pleasure of experiencing any of these tricks myself although for sure I could have used a few from time to time, even while screaming "No, I'd rather remain aloof!" It would be interesting to talk to this Tommy Harbin and find out what it was like growing up with this Doctor of Fun for a father. As for poor Bazarov the nihilist what can I say! I haven't read Turgenev since High School.

Signing off now, the one I'm currently neglecting is asking that we play "Don't Break the Ice," a game in which, as you well know, the ice always breaks.

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