December 25: a meeting of two alien species

Between sleeping and waking is that indeterminate zone where thoughts spin in uncontrollable eddies. Sometimes you catch yourself unawares in this whirlpool. You think you are awake, but then, as you emerge from the vortex you have an instant where you recall the chaos and realise you had been in that antechamber between sleep and waking. It is like this for olde dad a lot now. What he utters are wisps of the unconscious, unspoken preoccupations that seep onto the surface, elfin things. A conversation with him is like the meeting of two alien species across centuries.
Yesterday i was trying to talk to him about going to the barber. His hair has got long and his eyebrows are ferocious. He couldn’t find the word ‘eyebrow’; it kept coming out as ‘strawberry tart’. He eats a cartfull of strawberry tarts every day now. If there are six in the fridge he will eat all six. Strawberry tart has become the deepest, most emblematic embodiment of his heart’s desire.
I asked him what year it was. He muttered for a few moments and then said it was the sixth century. I asked him what month it was. He didn’t know. I said, is it Summer or Winter? He said it was neither. I said, what’s that over there? pointing at the Christmas tree. He examined it and couldn’t make it out. He looked again and said it was a tree. I said it was a Christmas tree. I said it was Christmas. He nodded a bit and looked worried. I’m not sure he knew what that meant.
There is no progress. Every hard earned minute of conversation exists only for and of itself. It is discrete; there is no construction here. The two species have little to say to each other.

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