The Inventors by Unknown

The Inventors by Unknown

Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2016-06-30T04:00:00+00:00

“DEVICE FOR COLOR MEASUREMENT OF LIQUID IN CONTINUOUS FLOW.” United States Patent Number 3,773,424. Filed August 2, 1972


Old Bill

Bethel, Connecticut, 1979 – 1980

LIVING WITH YOUR PARENTS AT TWENTY-THREE HAS advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages: material comfort and security, home-cooked meals, and the companionship, warmth, and understanding of those responsible for your birth and upbringing and who love – or, anyway, tolerate – you more than anyone else in the world.

Disadvantage: wanting to kill yourself.

You viewed your return home as a defeat, a humiliation, a failure. You had failed. The prodigal child home with tail between legs. Like many a prodigal child you resented your parents for this, as if they were to blame. You had yet to realize the scarcity of having these two people both together in your life, how brief their tenure would appear to you to have been when all was said and done in the big picture of your life.

Meanwhile you couldn’t bear your mother’s perpetual synthesis of distrust and solicitude, her legion mispronunciations and malapropisms, her hoarding economy-sized jars of mayonnaise in bulk, bouillon cubes, and Saran Wrap. Above all, you resented her for being stronger, grittier, and more self-possessed than you, her son.

Then there were your mother’s migraines. They kept her bedridden for days, dry-retching into a Tupperware bowl. The migraines usually occurred on the heels of her arguments with your father, fights that often ended (as the ones between you and your brother often did) with a projectile of some kind being hurled, the hurler being your mother, the projectile an ashtray, the target a mirror that, the following day, your father would replace.

As for your father, the charming, sad, eccentric old man who wrote you all those letters, few things in life upset you more than the sight of him eating his morning toast. He would sit there, in the breakfast nook with his two three-minute eggs (one in its cup, the other on the plate next to it by his spoon) and his cup of tea (Lipton) steeping and two slices of bread (Thomas’s Protein) in the toaster (burned, burning, or about to burn, as suggested by the conical umber stain on the white cabinet above the toaster), with a jar of Chivers Coarse-Cut Olde English marmalade close at hand.

Before you even entered the kitchen you’d be assailed by the acrid odor of burned toast and hear the butter knife scraping against the charred bread, followed by crunching, gurgling, and swallowing noises as your father spread more marmalade over more toast between more sips of tea, the tea-soaked but still brittle toast crashing against his dental bridgework, with crumbs of toast (not including those you would encounter later in the plumb-colored sink and clinging to the mirror of the medicine cabinet in your father’s – the downstairs – bathroom) flying every which way.

Why your father’s breakfast habits aggravated you so much you couldn’t, and I still can’t, say, but they did. They annoyed you in the extreme, to where you could no longer stomach the smell of burned toast.


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