My mother bought this coffee machine, this turbo-charged make your own cappuccino monster that makes me feel socially, economically and culturally spoilt whenever I use it. Which is totally beside the point. It’s something I’ve become proficient in using, despite my ill defined reservations about it’s symbolic importance in my life. Thus I found myself, a week back, making a coffee for my father when this creepy guy I hesitate to call his friend, turned up. His relationship to my father requires some sort of qualifier, like golf-friend. Or, buddy. Acquaintance, I’m definitely more comfortable referring to him as an acquaintance. Because he’s creepy, you see. He’s the sort of guy, after he has died in some random traffic accident, that turns out to have a collection of unwashed children’s underwear in his basement, yet this discovery elicits only revulsion, not any particular surprise.
So, Creepy Dave turns up on Sunday morning just as I’ve volunteered to make my dad a nice latte, yet he doesn’t ask me to make one for Creepy Dave, which is fine by me as, much like girl cooties, creepiness holds the fear of contagion. Instead, my dad just makes him a quick cup of instant (an abomination in the sight of the Lord, assuming of course that the Lord lives in the suburbs and has time for sighting such things) and takes it out to him on the front porch, saying to me in answer to my query, ‘Don’t worry, the instant will do’.
I’m standing there, making my dad’s coffee, thinking about what I’ll say when I take it out to him. When I hand it over, owing to the beautifully crafted froth, Creepo will see that he got second class caffeine. It pops into my head that I could manufacture some sort of excuse on behalf of my father, ‘Treasure it Pops, it’s the last of the coffee after Psycho-cat widdled on the beans’, thus alleviating his social awkwardness. But it quickly occurs to me that, actually, it would be alleviating only my social awkwardness. My father feels no such awkwardness as Creepy Dave is, as far as I can tell, like one of those kids that follows another kid around because he likes/covets/envies them, tollerated and accepted by the object of their attentions with a mix of pity and narcisism. Just a guy he plays golf with who may or may not copulate with the dead off-spring of wildlife as a hobby. All this because my dad is an honest guy – had Creeply had the sack to ask why he didn’t get a flash coffee, my dad simply would have told him. He can be that kind of honest; honesty of a sort that disinclines one from asking questions one quite probably does not seek the answer to. This makes my dad sound like a bit of a part-time bastard, but he’s not. He always seeks to be kind, believing this to be an essential life practice, but also believes all actions, at base, are best conducted honestly. So his kindness keeps Creepster turning up but his honesty affects his etiquette.
I wonder if I should aspire to that level of honesty. It may involve a level of emotional and social engagement that I’m not all that comfortable with. I’m honest with those I like, while those I don’t like I simply don’t engage with in a way that would necessitate communication where lying of any significance could be said to take place. Meaning that the lies that do take place are of the variety of head nodding when one might shake it instead, or feigning a certain level of comprehension simply so the talker wont attempt to explain it in any further, deathly detail. Not so much lying as social lubrication. I appreciate being lubricated that way myself. Is that prevarication? Am I creating subspecies of comfortable lies to make a higher level of honesty unnecessary? I don’t know. What I do know is that my particular genus of honesty and kindness wouldn’t lead me into a position of having Creepy Dave on my front porch every Sunday looking enviously at my damn latte.