last week at my parents’ house, i sat down to read and realized that i’d forgotten my book (cormac mccarthy’s all the pretty horses). my parents have quite a few books (and an alphabetized spreadsheet of all of them), so i checked their list to see if they might have it so that i could read it there. they didn’t, but i did notice that they had another mccarthy novel, the crossing.
i mentioned it the other night at dinner with my dad. “i checked out your booklist the other day,” i said. “i was looking for cormac mccarthy’s all the pretty horses, but you didn’t have it.”
“yeah, but i think i have another one by him,” he said.
“you have the crossing,” i said. “it’s part of the border trilogy with all the pretty horses. i think all the pretty horses is first, and the crossing is second.”
“oh, yeah? how’d you like all the pretty horses?”
“i thought it was good. you should borrow it sometime, especially since it’s the first book in the trilogy. though i don’t think you have to read them in that order.”
“yeah, pat at work was telling me that you don’t really need the first book to understand the second one. a few of the characters are the same, but they’re not so important that you’d have to read the first one beforehand.”
like many fathers in the gulf coast area, my dad works in the oil business. he’s worked as a chemist of sorts for the same company for over twenty years. the last time i saw his office was at least twelve years ago, so i’ve never really had a good mental picture of his working environment. i always imagined him in a small, square office with two desks, one for papers and one for the computer. occasionally, he would go across the hall to the lab where he would put on gloves, plastic goggles, and a yellow labcoat, and play with a complicated network of glass containers and swirly plastic tubing. he would eat tupperware leftovers at his desk for lunch, and then he’d go back to mixing noxious chemicals and writing up reports for the rest of the day.
rarely did i envision my father’s social interactions with his coworkers, and when i did, it consisted of friday lunches with his fellow bespectacled chemists and occasional run-ins with them in the hallway and kitchen. though i never thought about it this way, it’s a rather mundane, depressing day-to-day office lifestyle my dad has been leading in my imagination. so it was a relief, yesterday, to hear him mention a literature discussion he had with someone at work. i’m so glad that he can talk about books with the coworkers he’s known for so long, and that they’re not just talking about sports scores like i imagined. my dad doesn’t even watch sports.
i’m also glad that he’s been posting a few comments here, though i’m not telling you where. hell, he’s not even telling me where.