It was an early evening in January and I was sitting on my back porch with a friend of mine. We were chewing up Cohibas, the finely hewn tobacco leaves sticking nicely to the dense winter air as if a commemorative stamp. The occasion which brought us together was the birth of my son. He had been born at nine nineteen that morning. I recounted to my friend how the nurse had rounded off the time of birth to an even 9:20; perhaps the result of a professional sleight of hand, or maybe a superstitious tick. It was a harmless scandal I was thrilled to have been party to.
The providence of that minute’s time came to me last week as I watched my son deliver the class President’s address at his high school graduation. A proud father can sit here and write on his many accomplishments over the last four years- from his perfect GPA to his civic contributions to his work with Congressional bigwigs. Alright, hell . . you can sue me for boring you or thank me for not going on.
But really? It’s the rest of him that makes me most proud of all. It’s the brash and cocky boy who transformed into a brilliant young man over the course of no time flat. It’s the stick-to-intuitiveness that defines his every waking moment. It’s his handle on the big bad world he’s walking through. It’s that wicked sense of humor that gets me riffing right along. It’s his devotion, his courage, his strength.
He will be somewhere in the some days of soon enough, creasing the heavy of expectations he brokered on his own steam. He will be making the kind of difference that will render his graduation night quaint, if not altogether prescient. He will forge and prosper and muster and fight and in the doing of this, he will lead. My paternal ownership of the last statement is fractional, honest.
I once wrote somewhere that the common man follows a road that the uncommon man has made. Little did I know when I wrote it that my son would possess the kind of ‘ups’ that would lead me home.
When his life goes next level, I figure on being somewhere warm and sandy. I’ll be back to smoking (cigars) and drinking whiskey, since moderation won’t appeal to me once common sense sets in and the running shoes and cranky diets stop mattering as much as the idea of painting gold the days I’ve still got in my hand.
The boy will call me with some dilemma or other. And I’ll probably give him shit for not having taken up journalism instead, since being wrong there only serves to fatten your pay grade and ample your little black book. And of course, he’ll remind me of the big picture I was always conveniently forgetting. And then we’ll laugh, and then we’ll joke, and then I’ll say something to the effect of “Fuck if this phone call isn’t a Jim Croce song.” And then we’ll probably cry over the idea that the more things change, the more they still read of the classics.
And when he makes it to that place, I’ll give him that minute back. The one the nurse took away on a rainy Monday morning back in ’95, when the world seemed smaller and the days seemed longer and the future seemed a million miles from the latest hot radio song. I’ll give him that minute back . . then.
Not a minute sooner.