Here's the story I found myself remembering this morning: it dates from the time, again, like yesterday's story, when I used to serve him as an altar boy. After the communion service we would recess solemnly to the vestry, where my father would remove the ceremonial robes that covered his cassock and re-hang them reverently in the closet; and then would sit at the table to fill in the registry, first with the date and time, then with the type of service just conducted, and finish with his signature, Harry L. Clothier. (The "L" was for Legg, a matter of some slightly embarrassed amusement for me as a child.) Well, there was this one occasion when he sat down to perform this ritual, wrote in the name of the service, Holy Communion, then thoughtlessly signed his name with a flourish, "Holy Clothier."
Talk about Freudian slip! We had a good laugh about that--he was not without the healthy ability to have a good laugh at his own expense. But it did say something about the man, and about the self-consciousness with which he played his role.
I suspect, too, that he had a healthy id--and that he judged it unhealthy. Or at least felt very uncomfortable about it. I judge, in retrospect, that he had a real battle with his sexuality. (I remember once when he told me, out of the blue, somewhat later in his life, that he had never been much interested in masturbation!) I believe that, like Jimmy Carter, he "lusted in his heart" after the several young women who were assigned by the War Department to live with us in the Rectory with us during the war (WWII, that is!) They were working, we discovered much later, on the Enigma machine at nearby Bletchley Park, de-coding Hitler's messages to his armed forces.
All these thoughts and memories were sparked, remember, by that observation of myself as "showing off" in my speaking gigs. The ambivalence I feel may be something inherited from my father, either by having watched--and perhaps emulated--his behavior, or simply in the genes. And I suspect more and more, as I grow older, that we tend to find more of our parents in ourselves, sometimes even to our own dismay. I am certainly--and unexpectedly--finding something of the preacher in myself; and I find co-existing in him, the preacher, both the show-off and the genuine investigator of the human soul.