Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

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Slice of Life

This is something that really happened to me today. It involves my father, who died when I was nine. Now, I don't need any sympathy or anything of a similar ilk. When it comes to my father's death, I'm a well adjusted fellow. Death: it happens to us all. When it happens to someone close to you, you have one choice, which is just to accept it, no matter how hard, how unfair, how whatever. Just accept. How ever long it takes you, you got to accept that they're dead and there isn't a thing you can do about it. Anyhow, I'm just saying that to preface this little story. The thing to note here is that I was quite young when he died, and about eighteen years have passed since then. (In case you're curious, he died from cancer.) It's been a long time, and he only comes up every now and then in conversation with my mother, but it's rare and casual thing. Just memories.

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.
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