The latest, just in: my father has been fired.
The phrasing he used, actually, was a bit more forgiving: “I’ve been given an un-renewable contract”.
Oh, Dad. You and your soft, politically-correct speech.
We were in the car, my mother at the wheel. Our Oldies station was playing (Gimme hope, Jo’anna, gimme hope). She was tapping the dashboard, in time with the music – outside, lights flickered, people walked, hand-in-hand, imperturbable, blind to anything outside the small, imperfect boundaries of their lives.
My father walked out of the building. He had his hands in his pockets.
He fed my mother small-talk for a few minutes, patiently answering her questions as to his day, his work. It was only when she asked, almost carelessly, in passing “When are they going to renew your contract?” that he paused.
“They’re not.” He said, and it was as if all the air had been sucked out of the car. Tense. Waiting.
My mother has never been patient. She looked at him. “What?”
And then, le pièce de résistance: “I’ve been given an un-renewable contract.”
We were quiet – Weiner was immersed in his own little world, his chin in his palms, looking out the window. It was only later, when my mother started crying, did he look up, startled.
“What’s wrong?” He asked, puzzled – and I did not know what to say.
The song continued – Gimme hope, Jo’anna, gimme hope, Jo’anna, gimme hope until the morning come…