MEMORIES OF OUR FATHERS – TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY STYLE
So, the other day, I was getting ready for work at the day job. My five-year-old son, on spring break, had come in earlier and crawled into bed with his mother. I stood at the mirror putting on my tie. In the mirror, I saw the boy stir and sit up, blinking away sleep, then watching me get ready.
Every son has had that experience; watching Dad get ready for work. There’s something mysterious about that, when you’re a kid. You know what Dad’s like at home; how he dresses in his off time, what he likes to do. You know what Dad’s like when he comes to your school for conferences or winter carnival of whatever. But at his work, that’s a vague, alien world Dad goes off to for a good chunk of the day (or night). When you’re a kid, watching Dad put on the uniform – sometimes literally – to go to that unknown frontier, it’s like watching him get ready to beam up to the Enterprise or something. (I almost wrote “It’s almost like watching Buck Rogers get ready to take off for the 25th century. How old am I, exactly?)
A lot of us also have distinct memories of their Dads – and moms – looking certain ways when we were kids. Jolly. Dour. Laughing. Serious. Whatever. And often, especially for us kids of a certain age, we remember them always holding a cigarette and/or a glass of bourbon.
A lot less dads smoke now, or have a glass of whisky attached to their hands. Its unlikely this is how my son will remember me or his friends will remember their dads. But, I noticed something that morning as I dressed. There’s was something else in that reflection…
A tiny little blue light blinking from my shirt pocket. I had stuck my phone there for some reason. Like a lot of people, I carry my cell phone around with me a lot. Not as much as some people, but a lot. The cell phone today is more than a communication tool, it’s an accessory, an expression of who we are the way our dad’s and our grandpa’s brand of cigarette or preferred whisky was. A cellphone in your shirt pocket even kind of looks like a pack of cigarettes.
Is this how our kids will remember us? Mom and Dad always with the phone within reach? And if so, is that good or bad?Maybe they’ll think it’s just weird. Maybe they won’t even notice because they do it too. Maybe they’ll think it’s quaint because by the time they’re adults they’ll have cell phones embedded in their elbows or noses or whatever. (I could have predicted “implanted in their brains”, but, seriously, any two-bit blogger could predict that.)
I don’t really know what the import of all this is. There’s probably no shame in being remembered for always having a phone in hand. If nothing else, it’ll cloud the memory of all those Doctor Who shirts I wear.
So that’s something.