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21世纪大学英语读写教程第四册 Unit08


  Unit 8

  Text A

  Pre-reading Activities

  First Listening

  Before listening to the tape, have a quick look at the following words.

  outspoken

  直言的,坦率的

  optimist

  乐观的人

  navy

  海军

  cooling off period

  冷却期

  intimidating

  令人胆怯的

  cremate

  火化

  Second Listening

  Listen to the tape again. Then, choose the best answer to each of the following questions.

  1. What was the speaker's relationship with his father like when he was young?

  A) They were a typically loving father and son.

  B) They were a typical father and son who fought sometimes.

  C) They fought even more than in usual for a father and son.

  D) The speaker never knew his father, who was a stranger to him.

  2. What were the personalities of the father and the son like?

  A) The father was outgoing and the son was shy.

  B) The father was shy and the son was outgoing.

  C) They were too similar, which led them into conflict.

  D) None of the above.

  3. When did the relationship between the father and the son begin to improve?

  A) When the son became an outstanding student.

  B) When the son left home for college.

  C) When the father began to get older.

  D) When the father retired from the navy.

  4. What is the relationship between the two men like at the end of the listening passage?

  A) They are fighting just as much as ever.

  B) They have less conflict, but still have difficulty communicating.

  C) They have resolved all of their troubles, and now get along well

  D) They have agreed not to talk to each other any more.

  My Father's Son

  Bill Heavy

  When my father rings, I hurry down to the front door of my condo. There he is, in corduroy pants, the tread worn off the knees, and a shirt I outgrew in tenth grade. He's come to help me put in a new garbage disposal. Actually, I'm helping him. His mechanical gene passed over his only son, on its way to some future generation. At 39, I've made my peace with this.

  My father hasn't been to my place since he helped me paint four years ago. The truth is, I'm often not sure how to talk to him. But this time it will be easy. We have a job to do.

  In minutes he has taken over the whole enterprise, lying under the sink and squinting up into the machinery. And suddenly I am 12 years old again, watching him fix things and feeling useless.

  As a child, I identified so strongly with my mother that I thought my father was just a long-term house guest with spanking privileges. She and I are bookish, introverted worriers. My father is an optimist who has never had a sleepless night in his life.

  Like most fathers and sons, we fought. But there was no cooling-off period between rounds. It was a cold war lasting from the onset of my adolescence until I went off to college in 1973.I hated him. He was a former navy fighter pilot, with an Irish temper and a belief that all the problems of the world—including an overprotected son who never saw anything through to completion—could be cured by the application of more discipline.

  At a time when an eighth-grader's social status was measured in the fraction of an inch of hair kissing his collar, my father would march me down to the barbershop on Saturdays and triumphantly tell the man with the scissors. "Just leave him enough to comb." I would close my eyes, determined not to give him the satisfaction of seeing me cry. Without even thinking about it, I froze him out of my life, speaking only when spoken to. I learned to use silence like a knife. My one communique for an entire dinner was usually a sarcastic "May I be excused now? I have homework."

  I lay awake at night imagining him being transferred by the gas company he worked for to an oil rig in the North Sea. But it didn't happen, and soon all that remained was the contest of wills.

  I went off to college, but he was still in my head. I could hear his voice every time I fell short in anything. Only when I began seeing my freelance articles in print did I begin to feel that I was slipping beyond his reach and into my own life.

  Eventually I discovered that there is no anti-inflammatory agent like time. Now I wondered, could this aging 74-year-old be the giant who once thundered up the stairs to spank me, of whom I was so afraid that I wet my pants? In his place was someone I worried about, whom I dressed in my down hunting jacket for his annual pilgrimage to the Army-Navy game. My profession, which he had once ridiculed, saying, "Gee, do you think there's any money in it?" now became a source of pride when fellow Rotarians mistook him for Bill Heavy "the writer." It was as if now that I no longer needed so desperately to please him, I had succeeded. We had become two old veterans from opposing armies, shaking hands years after the fighting, the combat so distant as to be a dream.

  Before we can install the disposal, we have to snake out the pipes. Soon we get stuck trying to figure out how a gasket fits.

  "Ah," he says finally, "we're going to have to call a plumber."

  This is not how I remember him. He used to be so stubborn, the kind of guy who could make IRS examiners throw up their hands in frustration and let him off. Now that I have his mind-set and don't want to give up, it's as if he's acquired mine.

  He says, "Besides, I gotta get home. Your mother and I have to be at a dinner party at 7:30."

  "Don't you pay for the plumber," he says. "Putting this thing in is part of my Christmas present to you."

  Though we've failed to install the disposal, it's been oddly satisfying. At last we're on even ground. Maybe he wasn't the best father. Maybe I wasn't the best son, but I realize I will never be ready to cope with his leaving. I know that I'm luckier than some of my friends, whose fathers died while they were still locked in the battle that neither really wanted.

  The plumber comes two days later. He secures the disposal in its place as easily as I buckle my belt.

  Not long ago, I started badgering my parents to get their estate in order. They didn't want to deal with it. I finally wrote them a letter saying if I were a parent, I would want to make damn sure the IRS got as little of my money as possible. I knew this would push my father's buttons. It worked. They met with a lawyer.xc

  Later, my father and I lunch at a restaurant near my office so he can fill me in on the details. "One thing I don't want you to worry about is what'll happen to me," he says, with the satisfied air of a man who has taken care of business. "The Navy will cremate me for free."

  "And what about the ashes?" I ask, concerned only with practical things. It is as if we are talking about how to get rid of the old disposal.

  "They scatter them at sea." He turns away, looking around for our waiter. Something breaks inside me. When he turns back, I am crying, hot tears springing up in my eyes so suddenly I'm almost choking.

  "I don't want you to die," I manage to say. "I don't want them to scatter your ashes. I'll scatter your ashes."

  "Oh, Bill," he says, taken aback, totally at a loss about what to say. "I just didn't want to burden you with it."

  I have no way to tell him that I want to be burdened with it, that it is my birth right to be burdened with it. "I know," I say.

  I don't even look around to see if anybody is watching. I don't care. I reach across the table for his hand and hold it, trying to stop the tears.

  (1 192 words)

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