Ayad Akhtar On His Mother’s Secret Desires

‘Humility Is What Drew Me to Him’

I thought my father was the only one with secret desires. Then my mother asked me to go for a walk.

By Ayad Akhtar

“Can I get you two something cold to drink?” the poolside waiter said, holding a check over his brow to block the sun on that hot day. Wearing only short shorts, he couldn’t have presented a stronger contrast to the woman he was addressing; my mother was in a body-length, long-sleeved linen gown.

“Virgin piña colada,” she said.

“Same,” I said. My mother knew I drank alcohol, but she didn’t like it when I drank in her presence.

We were in Naples, Fla., on our family’s annual spring break vacation, a tradition we had continued even as my brother and I entered midlife.

At this point, the vacation routines were well honed. My father rose early and walked to the pier, where he rented a pole and fished; my mother rose later, and, after breakfast, planted herself by the pool to read. I split my time between them, spending the earlier part of the morning with him and the few hours before lunch with her. Read Ayad’s full essay at The New York Times.

Ayad Akhtar will be joining Julie Robinson for one of our Books and Bathrobes conversations on October 20. For more information and to reserve your spot, please visit our event page.

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