Bob Mould's voice came out of my computer's speakers: "Listen, there's music in the air. I hear your voice, coming from somewhere . . ." while I dug through a cabinet in my office, beneath my desk.
I sensed movement behind me, and felt the presence of another person in the room. I turned and saw Ryan standing in the doorway.
"What are you doing?" He said.
"I'm looking for my GURPS Horror book," I said.
He came into the room, and crouched down on the floor next to me. "That GURPS seems cool," he said.
"Yeah," I said. "It's really fun, and was one of my favorite systems when I was your age." I thought for a second. "Wait. I mean, when I was even younger than you."
Goddam, I feel old.
I pulled out a stack of graphic novels, thinking that maybe my GURPS books were behind them, and carefully set them on the floor between us.
Ryan pointed to V for Vendetta, which was on top. "I've been thinking about it, and I think the book is better than the movie," he said.
"It usually is," I said.
"They should have kept in a lot of stuff that they cut, and they sort of changed the entire meaning of the story with the screenplay." He said.
I dug deeper in my cabinet, up to my elbows in a lifetime of geeky literature.
"Yeah, I agree with you, and so does Alan Moore," I said.
My book was not there. I sighed heavily, exasperated, defeated.
"What's wrong?" He said.
"I can't find the book, and I'm pretty sure that means it's in the garage somewhere."
"Oh man," he said. "That's like -10 to your search roll right there."
I was too frustrated to laugh, but it put a smile on my face, regardless. I don't think there's a parent in the world who would get too frustrated to enjoy a glimpse of himself as it flashes across his son's face. "Yeah, -10 if I'm lucky."
I picked up my books, and as I began to put them back on my shelf, one of them caught my eye.
"Hey," I said. "I think you'd like this."
I handed him Vertigo's First Offenses.
"It's a few first issues from classic Vertigo titles, like Fables, The Invisibles, Sandman Mystery Theater --"
"You gave me this when you got it a few months ago. I really liked it." He said.
"Oh?" I said. "Awesome." I set it on the shelf.
"Yeah, Fables was great."
I put more of my books back: Watchmen, a few Hellblazers, the entire collection of Preacher, and several hardback Sandmans.
Bob Mould finshed, and Michael Stipe replaced him. "Let's put our heads
together and start a new country up. Our father's father's father
tried, erased the parts he didn't like . . ."
"Ryan, I can't believe I'm going to say this, but . . ." my throat had suddenly become dry and I stopped to swallow. "I think you're mature enough to have full access to my comic and graphic novel library."
"You appreciate the art, you appreciate the writing, and -- most importantly -- you appreciate the value these books inherently have, as well as their value to me. If you'd like to read them, I'm happy to share them with you."
I looked at him, and he said nothing. I didn't expect it to be as important or significant to him as it was to me, and that was okay. Part of being in high school is not attaching importance or significance to moments like this, while attaching them to other things, like what exactly it meant when the cute girl from chemistry said your shirt was "funny." What kind of funny did she mean? Why did she twirl her pen in her hand when she talked to me? Did that mean something?
"Wow. Thanks! Does that include . . ." he spoke gravely, "The Collection?"
Oh. I guess he did understand the importance and significance of the moment after all.
"Well," I said, "let's start in this cabinet, and work our way up. I mean, I haven't even opened some of those in almost twenty years."
Goddammit, I feel old.
"Okay," he said.
"But if you ever feel interested in reading one of these," I pointed to a shelf that was filled with stories that mattered to me, stories that I hoped to gently pass along to Ryan, "you have my permission to come up and read any of them you like."
"Thanks," he said.
"Just be careful with them," I said.
He grinned at me. "Are you sure about this?"
"Yeah, of course," I said.
"Because if you're having second thoughts . . ."
"No. No. I said. I'm sure."
"Because you look a little nervous, is all."
Oh, my kid is giving me shit and busting my balls.
I laughed, and he joined me.
"Ryan, I trust you with my comic books. There, I said it."
"Wow. That's hardcore, Wil."
"Yes, it is."
Michael Stipe sang, "Take a picture here, take a souvenir."