daddy daddy

July 8, 2005

When I was young apparently my father would abuse his middle-managerial position to skip work in the afternoons in order to come home early to play with me. I have hardly any memory of this, although when my mother recounted this fact to me I was so thrilled that I immediately started remembering – creating memories? – whirls of colour – him spinning my on his back – and rushes of wind – him throwing me into the air.

It has been some time since I have had a working relationship with my father: a sorry pun if there ever was one. Perhaps the broken one we have now is, after all, working: I don’t care about him, neither does he care about me, and for friction to occur there must be contact, that we learn in physics. (At which, like almost everything else, I was really good, but decided not to bother with because my father thought it would be nicely pragmatic in an Asian sort of way. And anything that my father thinks is nicely pragmatic in an Asian sort of way, like myopic one-size-fits-all birth policies reminiscent of eugenics, or undemocratic elections, I find unacceptable in most ways.)

I suppose at the basest level I blame him for my homosexuality. After all, didn’t Jung or Freud or some mad German man say something or other about father figures or lacks thereof. Of course, it really isn’t something to blame someone for, and I really am not a self-loathing gay man (I think). Yet sometimes I wish that I could have been closer to him, and wonder if things would have turned out different otherwise: today I may be, instead, an ex-swimmer, an officer of the armed forces, headed for medicine at the university of Singapore (sensibly subsidised), dating my childhood (female) sweetheart and on the cusp of engagement. Today, of course, I am an (ex-)actor, a soldier hors de combat, going to Stanford to do economics and art history (and hopefully say goodbye to Singapore), fucking random men I meet in clubs, spas and toilets. My present life is more exciting; sometimes I wish I were more boring.

Or at least I wish I could speak to him about things which concern me and him. Us (a word I rarely use in referring to him and me.) Things like, hey, I like that car. Or hey, I like that guitar. Or hey, I like that computer. But even such shallow conversations are trumped by our mutual competition: I always have to show that I know more than him. Which of course I do, but obviously he manages to deny everything in his pragmatic-Asian-Confucian way. Somehow the fact that I am was (am) wimpy and effeminate always comes into the picture and manages to beat my cool-faux intellectualising.

I have a friend who thinks she was the product of an illicit affair – mothers in their solipsistic way sit reassured, the secret of their wombs safe with them, but fathers can and may never know the truth. She, as a result, wishes to know the true patrilineality of her genealogy: a folly. The truth may set her free, but one makes one’s own family. Fathers are overrated, so are mothers and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters and any other familial relation you can imagine. There is no link so powerful yet so tenuous, so pointless, so arbitrary, as blood itself. We may talk (or not) in the car, over dinner, just before church: but what happens when we have our own cars, and can cook ourselves, and have left the church?


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