When he was home, my father often said he was “incognito.” I thought this was an actual place, called Cognito. Perhaps it was, as it meant he was in his study with the door closed. If he emerged briefly, he refused to answer if spoken to. He was not to be disturbed, and never was.
From this remove, I have the urge to diagnose. Sensitivity? Hypoglycemia? Asperger’s? Whatever it was, my father believed that his preferences and reactions were right, the morally correct course. A hatred of small talk was not just his quirk, or a personal preference. It was an elevated position, one that any superior person would automatically take. I, who even now enjoy a chat about the weather, fruit trees, real estate, gossip, and clothes, had to rally my childish resources to discuss the ancient Greeks.
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