A Morning at My Old Man's

My tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth. Like a kid after licking clean a spoonful of peanut butter. The world spun a bit when I sat up. It moved at one speed, myself at another. Playing catch up. I turned myself toward the television that sat in the corner of the room, one step closer to removing myself from the couch. It was still on. Stuck in an endless cycle of YouTube videos that started the night before with a query into off road racing, I think. Two tall brown bottles, empty, sat on the table. A pint glass, also. A low slung cloud sat over the lake outside. It was the end of October, when the colors of autumn had gone and the air was damp to the touch. An awful time of year, honestly. Grey, mostly. Providing a kind of cold that keep your bones brittle.

I could hear my father in the other room. On the phone, indecipherable, but likely with his "friend" in Thailand. Short, staccato sentences, augmented by paraphrasing. He had a habit of waking up early. Reading for a few hours. And taking a shower as soon as I imply I should. The nights prior had been a blur. Friends, negronis, and toast at 2am after we'd come back from the same bar we always sat at, but rarely ate in. Toast is, as it turns out, a staple of my diet, and a habit I acquired from late nights like those, often spent with my father. So, maybe it was peanut butter keeping my tongue attached to the top of my mouth. Whatever the culprit, it was my impatience that separated muscle, skin and hard palate. I knocked back the glass of water I'd prepared myself the night before. It sat on small table adorned by a lamp brought to the States by my grandparents in the early 1950s.

The post Millennial generation won't understand what waking up without a phone was like. I do, though. Mornings like this, before, were spent gazing across the lake, watching the De Havilland Beavers lift off over kayaks, canoes and anyone else suffering from that after summer cabin fever. My father would roust me, often in his underwear, drain the hot water tank in our apartment, and then suggest I take 'Navy Showers,' before trying his hand at breakfast. We'd pitch ideas around about what to do afterward. Always some kind of adventure.

Now, though... The phone is the first thing I think of, and the last thing I see. As it is for him, I presume. We still spar for hot water rights, but are mornings are bookended by emails and updates, notifications and whatever else keeps our eyes cast. Like the skies painted that pale grey over the lake, our mornings became overcast.

Alcohol helps keep the boredom from taking over entirely. But like any addiction, it simply stunts the growth. It does not remove the tumor.

I had slept in my clothing. Jeans and a t-shirt. An old pillow clad in Christmas sleeving, and a yellowing wool blanket have been my bedmates for years now. I lifted myself from the old, brown, sunken couch, with its cushions so tired and sad that they wander apart like old lovers. Gently, gradually, but inevitably. It has a smell. The whole house does. Old furniture and burnt toast. And peanut butter, perhaps. The sliding door to the deck is always locked. Precautions in case someone scaled the walls or descended from an apartment above, with ropes and tackle and loaded firearms. I always thought it was silly. But my father is a caution man. To a fault at times. As much, however, as I am not cautious. Ying and Yang and all that, I guess.

He emerges from his room. The sound of his door sliding across carpet is a familiar sound. He's curious what I have to do that day, tells me he has a meeting in an hour. I suggest I should shower. He tells me not to use all the hot water.

Some days you win, you know?

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