When Lily and I came downstairs from our afternoon nap, we found Dana, Grandpa Bob and Liam lounging around the living room, watching some show on National Geographic about the history of sports. They showed some videos of men playing football and old footage of men boxing, but the volume was so low that I don't think anyone really knew what was playing on the TV. Mostly Dana was bragging to Grandpa Bob how he could remember any number, how he had a photographic memory when it came to numbers, and he was making himself out to be some mathematical genius the likes of Nash. I couldn't help but roll my eyes to hear this as I followed Lily down the stairs, but I have to admit that it sounded like they were having a good time.
I sat down on the couch across the living room from Dad (Grandpa Bob) as Dana got up to get a drink from the kitchen. Dad was looking at the boxers on TV and said, "I wonder if they're going to show Sonny Liston."
I had never heard of Sonny Liston.
Dad looked at me in disbelief. "Of course you know Sonny Liston! There is no way that you don't know Sonny Liston!" He scoffed, and shoke his head.
This is coming from a man who cannot remember who Liam is. The thing about Dad is not that he forgets, but that he often acts like we are not just wrong, but that we are morons, too. However, besides our mutual agitation with each other, we still love each other very much.
I was not surprised that I had not heard of Sonny Liston because I'm not particularly big on watching men hit each other. It's just not my thing. So I yelled to Dana in the kitchen, "Hey! Do you know who Sonny Liston is?"
Of course the kids are running around and playing with various electronic toys which inevitably always play music so nobody can really hear anybody so the house just gets increasingly louder as a reaction to the increasing noise until it is becomes so unbearable that I just have to yell out STOP!!! It had not yet gotten to that point, but I could tell it was coming soon.
Dana yelled back, "What??"
I yelled back more slowly this time, "DO YOU KNOW WHO SONNY LISTON IS?"
Dana is in the kitchen having no frame of reference, and must have been thinking, "Who the hell is Sonny Liston?..." I could hear this in his silent response.
Dad is staring at me the whole time. I think sometimes he thinks Dana and I are conspiring against him, and just making things up. It must seem like that to him as he is living now in a universe where there is really never a frame of reference. So picture Dana in the kitchen only much longer. Like that feeling you get when you are trying to remember the name of an actor in that movie, you know, that actor in that movie? what was it??? only this feeling lingers with Dad constantly and it won't go away. I can't imagine how horrible this must feel.
I asked Dad, "Who is Sonny Liston? Was he a boxer?"
Dad moved forward to the edge of the couch, unsettling himself from the pillows. He was getting excited. "Sonny Liston?...Sonny Liston? He was that big black guy. He was huuuuge. You remember him. You have to know who he is. He was really big!" and Dad flexed his arms.
"Dad, it was probably before my time."
"Nah, couldn't have been."
"How long ago do you think he was big?"
"Ah, maybe 20 years?"
"Dad, what year do you think it is?"
"I don't know...that's a trick question."
"OK what year was he big?
"Dad, it's 2008 now."
"Well, I was born in 1974. So I probably wouldn't remember him from his hay day. I mean, that was over fifty years ago. That's like, 5 decades..."
He looked at me like I was an idiot again, "You do realize that a decade is ten years?"
And I said, "Um, yeah...and 5 decades is like half a century. That's, um, pretty old, Dad! I mean, you are pretty old, given that you were born in 1939."
He was giving me that look like 'shut up kid or else!' that I recall from my childhood! But he was smiling at the same time. This always gave me the geebies as a kid.
I tried to make him feel better. "Hey, look at it this way...you're as old as you are, and you can still climb over the baby gates amazingly well for an elderly person! That's pretty amazing when you really think about it! Don't you think?"
Dad definitely wanted to kill me now.
I knew it was time to be quiet. I felt like I was ten again, running over the back of Dad's shoes with the shopping cart as we went grocery shopping.
And I've always blamed Dana for the evil twinkle in Lily's eyes!