By Forrest Clancy
My Patron Father
This week we made a Christmas card for the donors, or ‘patrons’ of Ambassador Theatre Group. It reminded me so much of my Dad.
For my entire life I have suffered the pain of watching all kinds of performance with my Father. He is not a creative man. If ever he engages with the arts, he does so after a good push, or, as my mother prefers, a rap around the head.
“Michael! We are going to see a dance performance.”
They support their local dance theatre. My Mum was a dancer. The problem is, my Dad doesn’t care about dance. He doesn’t care about anything apart from Golf. But he goes anyway, out of fear of my mother. He takes his seat, he falls asleep, and he wakes up to the applause. Whenever I ask him what he thought, he just mumbles, “Ask your Mum.”
This week it has been just me and him at the house, so we watched Seabiscuit. It’s one of those epic movies, and, honestly, I just should have known better.
I think he is too afraid of his own emotions to allow them to confront him. Too manly, I suppose. The bummer is that he therefore tries his best to not watch films by intermittently plucking his favorites from a list of the world’s stupidest comments.
“You know, I feel like I recognize this guy.” He rubbed his chin while Toby Maguire, the main character, charged on to win the biggest race of his life. “I just can’t… put… my finger on it.”
Well then don’t.
I love Toby Maguire, especially in Seabiscuit. So each time he suffered another earth shattering setback, I practically screamed into a pillow.
“Wow,” said my Dad one time, “he looks really small there.” He turned to me and squinted, as though he were sizing me up. “Why do you think he looks so tiny?”
Do you really care? Did now seem like the right time to pipe up?
Silence is the only antidote.
By the end of the story, the power of Sea Biscuit had taken him. He just sort of sat there, totally still, staring straight ahead. I could see him crying. He knew I could see him crying, but if he looked at me, we’d both have to acknowledge this. So, instead, we both sat for a little while, considering the credits.
“Maguire” he finally said, as the names rolled over the screen.
“Who is Tobey Maguire?”