room windows. The walnut sofa was upholstered with blue-green damask, the cabriole-leg wing chair with tapestry. There was an oriental rug before the fireplace, which was flanked by two Hogarth-type side chairs and a tall-back wing chair, also done in red tapestry. The house was rich with brass and burled walnut, needlepoint and marble, the faint lingering aroma of woodsmoke.
In contrast, the first thing you saw when you entered my father’s office was the huge gray Formica-topped work desk dominated at its far end by a wooden piece he had bought in a First Avenue shop, an African mask resting on a stainless steel cube. Two walls were a pristine white, a third wall was covered floor to ceiling with bookcases, their jacketed spines adding a patchwork quilt of color to the room. The fourth wall framed a window view of New York City, mocha-colored drapes hanging at either side of the glass expanse. The chairs were upholstered in brown leather and tweed, the carpet was beige. Out of a bosky glen of plants in the corner opposite the desk, there rose like some metallic woodland sprite, a joyously leaping Giacometti imitation. On one of the white walls, there hung an original Larry Rivers, and on the other a Goodenough. The lighting was hidden in walnut coves, except for two hanging white globes. The over-all effect was hardly similar to that in our home, and it made me believe that perhaps there were
Will Tylers, neither of whom I understood or even came close to understanding.
I went behind the desk and kissed him on the cheek without embarrassment; I could never understand those guys who have hangups about kissing their own fathers. He said, “Hello, son,” and then spread his hands wide over the desk top. “What do you think of it?”
There were perhaps two hundred photographs of different sizes on the desk. All of them were of General De Gaulle, whom I had never considered a particularly photogenic subject, handsome though he may be.
“I thought it was further along than this,” I said.
“Well, this is the final selection. What do you think?”
“It’s hard to say. I mean, without any text...”
“Yes, but what do you think of the pictures?”
“Oh, they’re great,” I said.
“We’ll be laying it out sometime this week,” my father said. “Great. When’s publication?”
“God knows,” he said, and waved the question aside. “Have you had lunch?”
“I grabbed a hot dog,” I said.
“What time is it, anyway?”
“Close to one. Pop, the reason I stopped by...”
“I thought we were having lunch together. I purposely kept lunch free.”
“Well, I’ve got to get back, you know. We’re rehearsing this afternoon...”
“How come no school?” he asked suddenly.
“It’s teachers’ conferences.”
“I mean, I’m not cutting or anything, if that’s what you thought.”
“Why would I think that?”
“Anyway, Pop, there’s something I’ve got to discuss with you.”
“Shoot,” he said, and sat in the brown leather Eames chair behind his desk. He took a cigar from the humidor near the African mask, sniffed it the way I’d seen Adolph Menjou do in a thousand old movies on television, lighted it with a wooden match, blew out an enormous cloud of poisonous smoke, laced his hands across his chest, and looked at me expectantly. I cleared my throat.
“Well,” I said, “as you know, I’ll be graduating this June.”
“Yes,” he said.
“And this is May,” I said, “and I thought I should be making some plans for the summer now. I mean, before it’s here, you know. Because I’ll be leaving for Yale in September, and I wanted to make some use of the summer, you know.”
“Where do you want to go?” my father said.
“Well, that’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Well, that’s what we’re doing is talking,” he said, and smiled, and puffed on the cigar, and said, “I have a feeling this is going to cost