Has anyone ever browsed to the web page that just says “You’re dead”? That’s the page that tells you when it’s time to get off the internet. It can appear at any moment, clothed in the style-sheet of your favourite website. It almost came to me tonight. I felt it coming in the green and yellow of Fangraphs.com. But something must have happened, because when I got to that website it was the same as always–so instead I skimmed an article about possible AL All-Stars created by sorting 2014 performances by WAR. I could have written that in my sleep.
But I didn’t.
The goal of my life is to beat my father in as many ways as possible. I am setting my own arbitrary conditions, but so far I’m winning. First marriage: my father, 28; me, 21. First divorce: he, N/A; me, 24 (in theory). Age at death: he, at least 58; me, just 28 so far. This would have been too dark a status for Facebook.
Yesterday I went to a dinner celebrating a PhD student my father advised. I probably shouldn’t have gone. My dad invited me at the last minute, just as I heard he was in town at the last minute. He told me Thornhill, 5:30, and I drove to Thornhill for 5:30, arriving ten minutes early, and waited until nearly 6:00 for my dad to arrive. The guest of honour came in around 7:30 or 8:00. She was—understandably—annoyed that I was there. I was sitting next to her. It was a small dinner. I was annoyed that I was there, although not smart enough to realize it. The student, who was in her fifties and working on an Applied Mathematics PhD, asked me if I was old enough to drink. I felt like a teenager, completely out of place, extraneous. I should be mad that I was invited, maybe, even though it was otherwise a nice dinner. But I have eaten well before.
Perhaps I presented myself in a way that reinforced or suggested the idea that I was a teenager, or perhaps it was my father’s behaviour towards me. Perhaps it was my mere presence or my relative youth. Perhaps I should have been more forceful when I had something to say or might have had something to say—rather than what I regard as “polite,” and what I’ve realized other people regard as “shy” or maybe even “dull.” The dinner wasn’t about me and I didn’t want to make it about me. But it’s a hurricane or a racetrack inside and if I seem quiet or bored that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. I wasn’t there to talk about applied math or about academic committees. I was there to see my dad. So if I had nothing to say—which only seems natural, because I couldn’t care less about applied math or academic committees—that could be considered, perhaps, an extension of my disappointment… even if I didn’t realize it at the time.