Jars felt like he was looking into his son’s face for the first time. Three years had slipped silently by without a word passing between them. Kyle had changed. Boyish features had given way to previews of the manhood waiting in the wings. The physical evidence of Kyle’s parental union were strikingly evident. The young man had inherited his father’s height, standing nearly eye level as he greeted his father with indifference, dismissing Jars’ offered hand without so much as a glance. Not that Jars had expected a warm reception. He had no reason to. His own behavior—or better put, lack of anything over the past three years resembling fatherly behavior—pretty much guaranteed a cordial reunion. At least at its beginning. Perhaps as the evening unfolded they might make progress.
But what would progress look like?
Jars couldn’t imagine. They were total strangers to one another. No, actually it was worse. The atmosphere between strangers is neutral at first, drifting in one direction or another only after layer upon layer of impressions begin to pile up and take effect. First impressions get the ball rolling. From there the ball either gathers momentum in the same direction or is slapped into another trajectory as revelation melds with past experience. Sometimes the interaction is positive, both parties taking note of familiar refrains in the words coming from the not-so-strange-now person they find themselves warming to.
Then there are those times when the bad vibes that sound from the onset only rattle more intensely with each word exchanged, body language filling in the blanks. The adult version of sticking out your tongue. Thankfully, the smirk he’d seen on Kyle’s face on his eighteenth birthday was nowhere in sight. Jars only hoped it hadn’t gone underground, its bitter roots embedding themselves in the marrow of the young man’s bones.