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an elevator ride

An odd moment on the elevator yesterday. My mom had a doctor's appointment, and my dad and I were going along for company. We were alone for most of the elevator trip. Mom and Dad were sharing comments on the downtown traffic (bad) my driving (too fast) and the state of baseball (don't ask), with sidebars into grandchildren (gorgeous) and prospects for lunch (varied). It was in short a regular family piece of argle bargle, as has been served more or less fresh for as long as I can remember. Lots of laughing on their parts because these are fun topics to riff on. Lots of laughing on my part for those reasons, and also because my folks, in their 70s now, talk loudly, think quickly, and can't hear very well. You should have gone down Bay, my dad said.

No, he shouldn't. He shouldn't have to. You should have paid, said my mom.

Paid what? said Dad.

He said Bay, Mom. Bay Street.

I did pay, said Dad. The Yankees lost and I paid. I always pay my debts.

Oh, the Yankees, said Mom. Don't get me started on the Yankees. And now what are you laughing at?

Nothing, I said. Nothing at all. The elevator stopped, and a man got on. Rimless glasses, a white shirt, striped tie, shined shoes. He could have worn a sign saying ACCOUNTANT or perhaps SYSTEMS ANALYST but he didn't have to. He stared at us blankly, and turned away. My parents continued their discussion, managing to combine concert tickets, divorce, and automated parking in a breathtaking two-minute sequence. I wanted to applaud but I was too busy refereeing and laughing. The accountant got off, favoring me with one glance. (Can you have ice brown eyes? They were definitely chilly.) And I realized that he had not found our discussion amusing. Not at all. There had been no connection whatsoever. The door closed, and the elevator continued up. That was a completely humorless man, I said.

I know, said Mom. Scary, huh?

Kind of. What do you think, Dad?

He shrugged. He's pretty focussed, my dad.

I still think you should have gone down Bay, he said.


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