Why ask you this?

This makes me think about a moment in which a friend’s father saw a copy of War and Peace and he was about to be impressed that I was reading such a serious, hefty tome – one that is often used as an example of intellectual superiority. But when he realized the book was not mine and rather belonged to his own son, he did not transfer his impending feeling of IMPRESSEDNESS, no, suddenly he saw the book as an entirely different marker than he had moments before. He asked his son, “Got a lot of time on your hands then?” Which, by the way, the son does not. He manages to squeeze War and Peace into the moments he is on the subway or waiting for a group to arrive. I could not help leaping to the son’s defense – explaining how little time he had, in fact – how he used his commute to boost himself.
But when we spoke about this later, the son had not even registered the underlying judgment of his father. It was so normal to him, it did not even stick to his memory. It did mine, though and now I wish I’d asked his father this question instead of just responding. I wish I’d asked why he asked such a question.


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