December 23: olde dad’s periscope

When you are old you are diminished and you need the aid of things to give you the power you once had. I am at olde dad’s for  Christmas again. And sleeping on the living room floor again. Olde dad puts his glass of  water on a coffee table next to where I sleep. At 2 in the morning, just as I am dropping off, he comes in. The light goes on. Are you awake? he says. I am now, I say. He takes one sip from the glass of water that has been set up on the table. It is the business of two minutes. The light goes off and he goes back up. It is not easy getting to sleep in olde dad’s living room. By three o’clock I am managing to doze. And then Sclack! The light’s on again and it’s olde dad. He’s back for another sip of water. Are you still awake? This time I don’t bother with a response. Why doesn’t olde dad put the glass of water in his bedroom? you ask. Clearly you know nothing of these things. The glass of water is his periscope. Through this feature he keeps some form of control: sleep deprivation in his counterparts; a panopticom over his domain. Olde dad will not renounce power without a fight. You will have to wrestle the crown from his brow.

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