Hay’s for Horses

(14-18 January 1994) after Frank Lebby Stanton

Dad didn’t teach by aphorism, but if I said, to get his attention, “Hey,” he would say, “Hay’s for horses.” If I began, “Well . . .” Dad would observe, “That’s a deep subject.” When talking with Dad, it was useful to think on two levels at once— the meaning and the tease. Dad would say, “Another day, another dollar,” enjoying this deliberate archaism, and he would say, “Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow,” careful it wasn’t what he said, but what he did, that mattered. If I became too self-absorbed and serious, sitting within reach of Dad’s foot, he would reach out and pinch me with his toes, amazing how he did that though his sock— a friendly nip at the edge of the darkness of the soul, teaching me the difference between the Self (alone at the edge of the darkness of the soul) and the Other (in our warm living room before the TV), and not to mind a little discomfort to benefit from his correction.