So I turned 18 and my father took me aside and said And now you will go to college, and you will earn a degree. And the degree will grant you a certain station in the workforce, and an according wage. The wage you earn will have no bearing on your worth as a human being, no; rather it will have to do with the personal stress you are afforded as a result of the amount of money which your job causes you to move through the machinery of society. The larger the sums, the larger the stress, the larger the take-home, and so forth you get the idea.
And I said But Dad that sounds crappy and I don’t want your life. And he said Me neither and drank heavily, on into the night. Probably just root beer, but still. Later we learned that he’d been having an affair with a woman in Fairfield for like, I don’t know, 10 years. I guess my point is that no one’s getting any presents this year, so don’t ask.
When I was 15 my father took me on vacation to play golf at Hilton Head. (“I don’t play golf.” “We’ll get you a lesson.”) I didn’t even know he played golf. It felt like what it ending up being: a last-ditch effort. It was April, golf weather in South Carolina. So fine, we go. In all the time since the last Ice Age, it has snowed exactly once on Hilton Head in April. Ask anyone who ever lived there: they still remember that weekend. So I sort of got my wish.
I woke up in the middle of the night, my father’s bed empty, his room key gone. A weekend away is a weekend away, golf or no, but you probably knew that. I took a couple things out of the minibar and put them in my bag. Silence is cheap, you guys.
Years later, after college, at my station in the workforce (which did not cause me to move significant sums of money through the machinery of society, but somehow still imparted plenty of stress) I had to call someone for a phone interview. I was nervous then, as I still am, about talking to people on the phone, and I wonder if I would have eventually had to force myself to become more outgoing if email hadn’t been invented. To be more able to confront people directly.
I looked at this person’s resume and noticed that she was probably about my age, and that she had grown up on Hilton Head. Hey, I said. Do you remember, and I told her the story of how my dad took me to Hilton Head one year to play golf, and how we didn’t end up being able to play because it snowed, of all things—
—and she laughed and said yes, she was there, and told me the story of that weekend from her perspective. Nice, this little human connection made across the country from my cubicle with the fluorescent light and the stapler with someone else’s name taped to the bottom. Did I somehow have an excuse to email her later, which turned into something else? Or did I even have cause to travel to South Carolina, something business related? Or whoa, this is totally random, but she was actually going to be moving to my town soon, and since she didn’t know anyone here—
No, none of that. I asked her the rest of the questions and the call ended. I looked her up on Facebook but it felt weird to add her as a friend. So anyways, like I said, it snowed exactly once on Hilton Head in April. Ask anyone who lived there.