Sometimes he slips and calls me "dude." Considering that I've been called worse things, I've learned to live with it.
Paul was over at the house last night. It's a visit that's usually good for a meal, especially if it's those delicious leftovers that "Sal" leaves in the fridge. We talked for well over an hour. Paul is a creature of the night. I haven't been one lately, so it's a good thing he was the one who had to drive home. We talked about the usual father-and-son stuff, along with politics, religion, the meaning of life, and the meaning of family.
His work at the Art Institute is going well, and he's looking to starting his internship in the next year. He's checking out opportunities in Sweden, of all places. I haven't decided to talk him out of it. I figure he needs to see for himself if the grass is any greener there. (Or maybe one of you has some insights.) In return for taxing at least half your income, Sweden goes all out to promote the arts among their citizens. They want the world to know the gifts they bring to the world table. It's not a bad idea, once the USA stops spending money getting into everybody's business. That can't happen overnight, unfortunately.
Paul has a fascinating assortment of characters for friends. I meet them at clubs like the Jammin' Java in Vienna, where Sal and I once went to see Pierce Pettis. Paul only knows half the people there, but they've all heard one story or another about "Paul's dad." Apparently I have some sort of latent cult following. I'm not sure what to make of it, actually. I'm sure his accounts are sufficiently embellished at my expense, if only to lend credence to his own cult following. Most likely, is that I never could be a conventional type of Dad, the one that has "Dad" written all over him, while at the same time refusing to be his "buddy." But we're all his family, me and the kids.
(He tells me that some of them read this blog, even every day. What can I tell ya?)
When he finally left the house last night, he managed to walk off with a 1987 issue of Rolling Stone that turned up in a purge of my library. You remember, the issue with The Bangles on the cover? I bought it to read the interview with Los Lobos. (Never did learn why they have an image of Our Lady of Guadelupe on the bass drum head. Maybe they're just nice Catholic boys. Yo, Paul, whaddaya think?)
Once he found an audiobook of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" on my bookshelf. I learned at least part of what the fuss is all about concerning Rand, especially among political conservatives. (I still don't get it.) But he does have a penchant for serious literature, like the time he read Plato's Republic when he was a senior in high school, and they didn't even require it. Reading Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God Is Within You probably inspired him to be an anarchist. I'm hoping that reading the work of an anarchist named Dorothy Day will influence him further.
It probably won't stop him from calling me "Dude," though.
(Photos stolen from Paul's MySpace page, without permission or shame. Last photo from the author's private collection, and the streets of Seattle.)