“… but the amazing thing about that, dad, is that you know Ash, yeah, well he, uhm, goes like from gym to gym to win uh, what do they call them, uh, oh yeah, to win badges yeah, so he battles, you know but to battle he has to capture new Pokémons all the time, you know, so it’s like this, when he wants…”
His unending stream of words floats up to me as we walk side by side on the way home from his school.
“… but the most important, you when he catches a Pokémon is that like the new uh, uh, creature has to want to become a,a, a, friend, or else it cant work, you understand?… yeah, so then…”
I want to tell him to pause, to breathe, but there’s no real point. I know it because that’s exactly what my Father used to say to me. Apparently I was an unending verbal flow. The injunction for air was more of a joke than an actual recommendation. So, as a kid, I just kept talking. Maybe I sensed that the moment I stopped, it would be for a long time.
My Father died this week, eight years ago.
A grade 2 dropout in his native Italy, he was barely literate in the English and French of his adopted Montréal. Yet, he told stories and made mostly salacious jokes in whatever language was needed. I quote him often, or at least that’s what I say. But I’m pretty convinced that many of the pronouncements that I begin with ‘as my Father used to say…” end up in inventions of my own. It would be more accurate to say that it’s in the spirit of my Father.
But, as my Father used to say ” never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”
I resemble my Father in many, mostly ineffective ways. But also in some terribly beautiful ways.
I will pursue the idea of woman to the ends of the earth and to exhaustion. Like he did with my Mother. They met during the war, when he was a 19 year old soldier from the North, stationed in her southern Italian village. She was 14. He had a penciled mustache. It was instant love that became marriage and lasted more than sixty years.
But she was not woman, she was a woman. She was very often unhappy… and angry. I think he was very often happy… and angry. They based their lives on a foundational myth, an illusion. A never satisfying proposition.
I’m often angry. And happy and not. And I’ve made my illusions my metier as a filmmaker and writer.
“… and you know what sucks, dad, it’s that when you like …”
I look down at my verbal tsunami machine as he hops and skips and talks and talks. His hands are flying to accentuate his words. His sweet little face is a canvas of fleeting emotions and ideas. He’s a storyteller. And I know he’s happy.
He stops in midstep.
“Stop talking just long enough to breathe.”
He shakes his head. He’s heard it before.
“Dad, if I wasn’t breathing when I talk, I’d be blue and dead, you know. Gotcha, gotcha, oh yeah, oh yeah..” He wets his finger, touches his butt and makes a sizzling sound.
“I’m sooooo hot….”. He laughs and i join in. Then he starts talking again.
“So, like I was saying, the best Pokémon of the new series….”
He starts hopping and skipping as he unpacks the boxes and boxes of ideas in his head. I follow. I wonder if my Father was like that as a kid. Smart, cute, sensitive and brilliantly talented. Until fascism, misery and war stomped on all that.
Talk, Noah, talk until you’re blue in the face and beyond.
I feel a sudden urge to scoop Noah up in my arms and hold him tight like I wish I could hold my Father tight, once more.