Today, I was in a bookstore. Peter Carey has a tiny new book out called Wrong About Japan that I was buying. It wasn't a premeditated thing; I didn't go out looking for the book, and indeed, I didn't know it was getting released. Just saw it there, in it's garish colours, and since I like Carey, decided to buy. So, anyhow, I step up to the counter, hand the guy my card to pay for it, and he does the little slide, pick your account, and then stops, and looks at my card.
"Are you Michael's son?" he asks.
Michael is my father's name. I have, literally, never been asked this question before.
"Michael Peek," he continues. "The last name is such a rare one. I can never forget it. You're his son, yeah?"
I have no idea how to reply. Will I have to explain to this guy, who is about my father's age, that Michael is dead and has been dead for years? How do you begin that? Finally, I say, "Er. Yeah."
"Really? That's great. I suppose he told you about us. He comes in here two or three times a week."
"You are Michael's son, right? Michael Peek?"
"Yeah, but, ah, my dad's been dead for years."
"Oh." He pauses. The little receipt runs out of the bank machine in a faint motorised sound. "Oh. So sorry."
It was okay, really. I told him it was no hassle. It was just weird, though, having someone ask me if I was my father's son. The first time I can remember it. Just strange, you know? Strange.