Saturday, 15 August 2015

Room 63 on the 42nd floor

I stumbled across an obituary yesterday. I realize that the older I get, the more likely this is to happen. This one opened the floodgates of some rather unpleasant August memories from several years ago.

We had recently made a move from the Gorge area of Victoria to the municipality of View Royal. I remember being busy in the basement - I may have been hanging laundry - and listening to my father singing the same song over and over: My wife was two-timing, fickle as can be/ With a man named Smith, she was double-crossing me/ So one night, I followed them to even up the score to Room 63 on the 42nd floor . . .

This was during that agonizing summer of waiting for my father to leave. He clearly wished to convey to me that my mother was dating the man in the obituary.

I can only recall going on one outing with the man along with his large family, including one daughter my age. I didn't particularly like him; I found him supercilious and brusque. I have no idea whether my mother was actually involved with him; it seems an uncharacteristic thing for her to do while my father was still living with us (not to mention when she would have found the time), but if my father thought this man was the chief factor in the final deterioration of their marriage, he was overlooking his own drinking, the resulting accidents, and the mountain of debts - which he was soon to leave behind. To say nothing of his own numerous infidelities. My chief sense of the summer was my dawning realization, at age eleven, of how flawed and foolish grown-ups could be.

The obituary describes the man - whose name was not Smith - as a "pure light" and declares that "to know him was to love him, and that was his effect on everyone".

It was a long time ago. Maybe he changed.

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