Flat on his back in bed, Dad scans the suspended ceiling left to right, right to left, toes to head, and back again. His eyes are watering. He says he's been doing "close work all day long". After one bite-size Milky Way, Dad asks, "What do you call a full volleyball court?" This is not an elephant riddle.
After my bite-size Milky Way I remind Dad I don't know much about volleyball. Any version I played in junior high PE class was very tame. I just tried to move any ball that I couldn't avoid away ASAP to become someone else's problem. I tried to become ill enough to go to the nurse's office before any chance of my having to "serve". Thank heaven there would be a written test over the rules and rotations of volleyball so I could cancel out my hideous skills drills results! Dad chuckles, seeming to recognize my self portrait.
There's some very serious athletic womens' competitive volleyball out there. Did Dad see some on t.v. today? "No," he reports, "I don't need t.v. to see volleyball." Yikes. There's some seriously demented spectator ceiling volleyball going on out there! And the court is not square.
"There's not a right angle in the bunch," Dad says. He claims to have worked all day starting at the upper right hand corner to correct the problem. He couldn't get any help from "all the people crowding in here", no doubt wearing hard hats. Dad's mind has jumped from the grids of the volleyball net to his many construction site review gigs as a structural engineer. We climb around the infinite Escher staircases and weave through the unraveling graph paper of the mind.
I sit for many minutes, eyes closed, knees sore. Climbing stairs in and out of the NY subway stations and the grander Metropolitan Museum of Art, I'm tired. "How far off is it?," I vaguely ask Dad. "Will it get worse than 89 degrees?" No, Dad assures me. It's only a little way off.
Walked through this public hall on Wall Street Saturday afternoon. M.C. Escher was there playing volleyball.
© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder