Reid ate breakfast in the kitchen in
Toronto thinking about all the philosophy he had studied so far this term and
what it all meant. He was aware that it was all words and ideas stagnant on
yellowed pages unless they were applied and used, which required backbone and a
certain type of focused courage. He wondered if he had that strength to assert
and to live the ideas. Being the little boy swayed and pushed had grown stale
and it was now a time for him to become who he was inside - that budding man
who had thoughts of taking a different path than what he had thought when he
started the term. If he was to take a whipping then so be it. It was time to
stand up for what he believed no matter what the cost.
As Reid was about the stand up to
pour himself a cup of coffee, he glanced at the last page of the newspaper and
felt the eeriness of co-incidence. In one corner it read:
In architecture, the pride of
his triumph over gravitation,
his will to power
assume a visible form.
Friedrich Nietzsche, 1889
in the other corner, it read:
The most beautiful house in the
is the one you build for yourself
Witold Rybczynski, 1989
he agreed with expressed a hundred years apart. Was it a sign? It was
time for him to begin building his own house.
"Overcoming gravity," he said
just as his father walked into the kitchen.
"Morning dad." The night's
rainfall carpeted a sheath of water on the un-raked leaves in the corners of
the backyard beside the wooden fence. The basketball hoop that his father had
put up on the garage for him was hanging on by only a few strands of net.
"There's nothing in the paper
except depressing news about the ozone layer and unemployment today," he
said. He watched his father pour himself a cup of coffee.
"Finding the papers depressing
these days are you son?" His freshly starched collar contrasted against
his red paisley tie.
"Well, there's not much of real
interest that gets by the censors." Kyle McFetridge sat across from Reid
at the kitchen table with morning eyes.
"Crime is on the rise," he said
adjusting his collar. "We have inner-city gangs now, have you heard?"
A product of 1950s idealism, the white picket fence still front and centre in
"Yeah, I've heard." Reid
was still worried about his father's reaction to his request for money, which
he hadn't brought up last night. He was still angry that he hadn't told him
about the regatta so he could come and watch, but he was angrier that he hadn't
told him that he was on the rowing team. He made it clear he thought it was
unnecessary and a distraction from his studies.
"Toronto is starting to get
those American big city symptoms." Reid noticed a shoehorn by the bowl on the
kitchen counter. "Soon St. Catherine's will be swamped with the same
degeneration as the States." Reid took a deep breath.
"Dad, why don't you understand
why I am developing other interests outside school?"
"What are you learning?"
he asked, lifting his coffee for a sip as steam rose from his extra-large mug.
"Well, other than the rowing
experience that we talked about last night, I'm learning about philosophy. The
interrupted, a hint of disgust in his voice. "Why would you ever take
philosophy of all things?"
"I wanted to take something
different from my core courses."
"Why couldn't you have chosen
something a little bit more practical like another commerce course to
get ahead?" It occurred to Reid that philosophy, at least as taught by
Bakhurst, was the epitome of practical.
"Philosophy is good Dad. I'm
really enjoying it."
"You don't want to be a
philosopher do you? You don't want to walk around with sandals stroking your
goatee do you?" Reid resented the mocking tone. His father was picking a
"Well," Reid wavered,
"I rowed this term and it was a good experience. The regattas were fun and
the guys on the crew were cool."
"Cool?" Kyle took another
sip of his coffee leaving the word floating in the air. "Listen Reid, I'm
sorry that your rowing season didn't turn out so well. Finishing out of the
medals must have been disheartening." His pensive eyes were sincere.
"But Dad, that's not the
"Sure it is. What do you mean
it's not the point?" His lips parted slightly with the expression of an
astonished disbelief as if embarrassed by his son's lack of understanding.
"I'm sorry it wasn't more successful son." There was no pride in his
tone. Reid stood up and walked to the kitchen to the coffeemaker to pour
himself another cup. He looked out the window at the pool drained and unused.
"I've met a lot of new people,
some interesting people."
"Of course that's important.
But the fact is that business schools look at marks not friends, and meeting
new people is not measured by marks."
"There are no buts son. All the
other students have the same excuses."
"It's not an excuse dad."
"What else are you
learning?" With his hands, Kyle invited him to speak.
"I'm learning about the arts,
about-" He realized he shouldn't have used the word ‘arts' as soon as he
"Why, do you want to become an
artist?" he interrupted, squinting through his heavy eyelids.
son. They live paycheque to paycheque, struggling to get food on the table."
Kyle's upper lip stiffened. "Is that what you want?" His
emphasis on the words chilled him under his grey sweatshirt, blood stains
discreetly hidden by his arm.
"No. It's a good break from
accounting and math, that's all Dad."
"If you want to study arts then
you're on your own financially." A distant brewing passion was quelled by
this single sentence. He had always thought his father would never outright
verbalize the threat. But he knew he wouldn't miss the opportunity to comment
on the waywardness of his character. In that way he gets an A-plus for
consistency. Reid was more like his grandfather, a man with a good heart. Maybe
that kind of thing always skips a generation.
keep your eyes on your work. You have so much talent that it would be tragic if
you wasted it. You know your grandfather always said to me, `those with the most talent are the ones who most take it for granted.'" He tilted his head and
smiled. "I realize there are adjustments to make in your first year, I
just want the best for you. You will make your old man proud, won't you
son?" He saw his father's tiny chip on the corner of his coffee stained
front tooth he had seldom seen since he was a child, making him feel paternal
security and the strength of the father-and-son bond. Reid sighed and let go of
his fight, his father's droopy eyelids making his eyes look innocently sad.
"Of course Dad." Reid smiled and
looked outside at the falling rain. He knew he could now ask him for some extra
money for an imaginary group project for his Introduction to Business class. He
sipped his coffee and his thoughts turned to Michelle.