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My Oedipus Complex
by [?]

After breakfast we went into town; heard Mass at St. Augustine’s and said a prayer for Father, and did the shopping. If the afternoon is fine we either went for a walk in the country or a visit to Mother’s great friend in the convent, Mother St. Dominic. Mother had them all praying for father, and every night, going to bed, I asked God to send him back safe from the war to us. Little, indeed, did I know what I was praying for!

One morning, I got into the big bed, and there, sure enough, was Father in his usual Santa Claus manner, but later, instead of uniform, he put on his best blue suit, and Mother was as pleased as anything. I saw nothing to be pleased about, because, out of uniform, Father was altogether less interesting, but she only beamed, and explained that our prayers had been answered, and off we went to Mass to thank God for having brought Father safely home.

The irony of it! That very day when he came in to dinner he took off his boots and put on his slippers, donned the dirty old cap he wore about the house to save him from colds, crossed his legs, and began to talk gravely to Mother, who looked anxious. Naturally, I disliked her looking anxious, because it destroyed her good looks, so I interrupted him.

“Just a moment, Larry!” she said gently.

This was only what she said when we had boring visitors, so I attached no importance to it and went on talking.

“Do be quiet, Larry!” she said impatiently. “Don’t you hear me talking to Daddy?”

This was the first time I had heard those ominous words, “talking to Daddy,” and I couldn’t help feeling that if this was how God answers prayers, he couldn’t listen to them very attentively.

“Why are you talking to Daddy?” I asked with as great show of indifference as I could muster.

“Because Daddy and I have business to discuss. Now, don’t interrupt again!”

In the afternoon, at Mother’s request, Father took me for a walk. This time we went into town instead of out the country, and I thought at first, in my usual optimistic way, that it might be an improvement. It was nothing of the sort. Father and I had quite different notions of a walk in town. He had no proper interest in trams, ships, and horses, and the only thing that seemed to divert him was talking to fellows as old as himself. When I wanted to stop he simply went on, dragging me behind him by the hand; when he wanted to stop I had no alternative but to do the same. I noticed that it seemed to be a sign that he wanted to stop for a long time whenever he leaned against a wall. The second time I saw him do it I got wild. He seemed to be settling himself forever. I pulled him by the coat and trousers, but, unlike Mother who, if you were too persistent, got into a wax and said: “Larry if you don’t behave yourself, I’ll give you a good slap,” Father had an extraordinary capacity for amiable inattention. I sized him up and wondered would I cry, but he seemed to be too remote to be annoyed even by that. Really, it was like going for a walk with a mountain! He either ignored the wrenching and pummeling entirely, or else glanced down with a grin of amusement from his peak. I had never met anyone so absorbed in himself as he seemed.

At teatime, “talking to Daddy” began again, complicated this time by the fact that he had an evening paper, and every few minutes he put it down and told Mother something new out of it. I felt this was foul play.