"Since this seems to be confession day, Steven," said my father, "I need to confess that I realise I wasn't the best of fathers, at least by contemporary standards. I was, as you now know, under a fair amount of pressure, not only from the quiet but persistent tyranny of hiding my true sexual nature but because I didn't much like my work, even if it meant flacking for a great university. I was under, please understand, a double whammy. "
"Why have children in the first place?" I asked.
"Because your mother wanted them. And because in our day it was expected of married couples under a certain age that they have kids. My own upbringing wasn't all that easy; my parents didn't much care for each other. I don't know if you know this or not, but people who themselves have had unhappy childhoods tend to be nervous about having kids of their own. We don't look upon bringing kids into the world as an unambiguous blessing, and we certainly don't look upon childhood as a blessed state. But how could I deny your mother? She was a sweet and shockingly normal, if slightly meshuganah, woman."
"Having kids also provided pretty good camouflage for your homosexuality," I couldn't resist inserting.
"I suppose it did," he said. "But you'll have to believe that it wasn't my main motive."
"You stuck by mom through her terrible last years with Parkinson's."
"Of course I did. I'd have been a real son of a bitch if I had deserted her. I'll say this much for marriage: nothing transient about it. And in it you don't die alone, or at least one of the partners in a marriage doesn't. Alone is the way I expect to die."
"Did you ever attempt to see a psychotherapist about all this?"
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