"-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"> Frigg | Spring/Summer 2023 | Late Night Classic | Melissa Ostrom
artwork for Melissa Ostrom's creative nonfiction Late Night Classic

Late Night Classic
Melissa Ostrom

If I ran back to my childhood and looked for my father at midnight, I would find him in the living room, awake, while the rest of the household slept upstairs. His chair would face the television, closely, like a dance partner, and he would have knobbed the volume to the left. A classic would silver the space. I would recognize Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. They would look graceful, intense. And my father, the watcher, with his crossed legs and thumb worrying his pipe’s breathing bowl, would never once glance behind him and notice the stray sock, the textbook, the crocheted throw that was coming apart at the center, unraveling like the family, together but barely. He would cloak the ordinary with his Captain Black smoke, a wafting veil, a sweet gray smothering in the manner a filmmaker construes dreams, like a fog that hides, drifts, swells. How permissible my father would make the poison, how even lovely. I would stay very still. I would think, That is my father and his dream. I would understand: This is as close as I can get.

Melissa Ostrom’s Comments

My dad is a complex man, but one thing I know for sure about him is his steadfast appreciation for old movies. When I was a kid, almost any night, I could find him downstairs, in front of the television, rewatching a classic, frequently a Hitchcock. The lightless living room, his solitary presence, and the swirling smoke from his pipe would, collectively, seem like an extension of the black and white film, a mirror of the drama’s slanting shadows, fog, and darkness. Even my father, movie-star handsome and elusive, was an echo of that Hollywood glamour.

Table of Contents

Frigg: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 61 | Spring/Summer 2023