July 13, 2000
I just picked O. up from his friend's place where he was sleeping over, and I wish I hadn't been wearing my Hole T-shirt with Courtney Love half-naked on the front of it, and the words Shut up! on the back. His friend's mom is at least fifty, very neat, refined, greying bob and wire-framed glasses, wears smart/casual outfits, and I didn't want to embarrass O. with the Hole shirt so I kind of moved around a lot while talking to her at her front door, pointing at her flowers and the shrubs and hoping that while doing so my shirt would wrinkle up and become indecipherable. Then, when O. was ready to leave, I kind of backed away while continuing to talk stupidly about her flowers so she wouldn't see the words Shut up. Just trying to spare the kid. If he doesn't get invited back to this boy's house, I'll know it was my fault. Although when I said to him, later, sorry about the Hole shirt, he said, meh. Which means the same as fffftt or enh. Which means he doesn't care. The game they played for hours was hit the puck in the net and see how high the empty plastic Coke bottle flies in the air. The Coke bottle rests on top of the net. Then they ate pizza subs. If they did other stuff, he didn't talk about it.
So, how are you? You know I was thinking about this letter thing and it occurred to me that if you're ever gonna respond, you'd need kind of an amnesty deal, like libraries have to return way overdue books. Which means you don't have to go over the last ten years pointing out all the stuff that happened that made you leave and not maintain contact and all that, or blame yourself, or seek redemption. We could just start again as of now. Because if we have to dredge up all the old shit just to get to a place where we can talk normally again, or whatever, it may never happen. Too overwhelming. So, if you want to leave the old shit alone and just start now, that's okay, that's perfect. It's just a thought. If you're even out there. If you're even alive.
In the meantime, more news of O. Lemme think. He's pissed off that the Lakers beat Portland because he's a fan of Portland and a fan of scrappy underdogs in general. He wishes he was taller than 5'8" and fears he'll never be noticed by basketball scouts if he doesn't go to an American high school. He's really in love with the States these days and can't believe how much Canada sucks by comparison. Do you live in the States? Or are you still floating around the Pacific Rim? Because if you live in the States, close to an American high school, and are interested in checking out your son, who knows....
Just kidding, I guess. Anyway, what else. He's got a picture of a girl named Katy crammed in behind his June bus pass. She uses hearts to dot her I's, and has written on the back, "Why don't you just talk to me? Of course you can have a picture of me, you don't have to ask Justin to ask me. Can I have one of you too?" But O. never speaks of Katy, never speaks of any girl.
Sometimes he says to C., God you're an idiot, which doesn't thrill C., who's doing a great job of parenting. We're trying to get him not to say that. When G. sings her choir songs in the living room, he makes trombone sounds to accompany her, which drown her out. We're trying to get him to stop doing that. When K. says she's going to another punk show at the Optimists Club, he'll mutter the word jailbait, which is something he's just learned the meaning of and thinks is funny. K.'s fifteen now and and rather sophisticated in a certain way. We're trying to get him to stop saying jailbait. He stole some limestone at the stonewall quarry on a recent field trip, which they weren't supposed to do. Do not remove the limestone from the quarry. When I asked him why he did it, he said he didn't know, it was fun. Remember when you took that East German money through Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin when you definitely were not supposed to? All those armed soldiers, and dogs and machine guns, wire, etc.? Was it fun or what? If the guy becomes a pro thief, it's your fault. Then he said the rest of the field trip was spent touring the town seeing the new wheelchair ramp they'd built at the post office, and the place where their tour guide learned how to parallel park. Okay, I said, very interesting. You think American high schools have more exciting field trips? I know they do, he said earnestly.
But here's a story of O's blossoming maturity. He's playing baseball for the Sabres, and he's pitching in the third inning. He does well, three up, three down. So, next inning, two out, he's up to bat, and bam he hits a homerun. He's flying around the bases and makes it home and sits down on the bench while his teammates hit him on the back and high-fives, all that. But wait, something's up. The ump comes over and calls him out on second, because apparently he didn't touch the base. So that's the third out, which means he goes to pitch immediately. He's looking okay, cool. But he's rattled, obviously, as he starts throwing wild balls all over, except not over, home plate. His coach pulls him and puts him on third. New pitcher. So, that's the thing, maturity. Not that he became rattled, that's normal, but that he tried not to show it. It was only evident in his pitching, not in his language, body language, that stuff. But his pitching couldn't hide it. I was very proud of him, that's what sports is all about in my mind. Accepting the call, and shaking it off. At least outwardly. Last year he would have been swearing, probably, throwing his glove on the ground, that sort of thing. Not this year. And then, on top of it all, at the end of the game I went over to him and said tough call, I bet you did touch second. And he said, no, actually, he hadn't. He said the ump was right. Unbelievable. That's your kid, you know. That's the story of O's blossoming maturity. So he steals a little limestone from the quarry, so what.
Oh yeah, I wanted to say he's had stitches in his head and a broken leg and once he had a corneal abrasion. A bungee cord snapped in his eye, the hook part, and his eyeball bled just like Frankenstein's. He had to have different colors of dye injected into his eye, and then he had to wear a patch for a few days. He's okay now, though, his eyes are good, beautiful and blue. One more thing: the other day there were nine of us, our family, my sister, her partner, my mom, etc. playing the game Therapy and one of the questions was: Who, of all the people playing, is most likely to have a secret life. Then we each write our answer on a piece of paper. Every one of us said O, including O. Hands down. The cool thing was nobody asked him, even in jest, what it might be.
Gotta go. Remember the overdue library book deal, no questions asked. But I'm not holding my breath.