One-minute review: Father visits his college-dropout son, living like a hippie, to try to talk sense into him, but his language, almost unintelligible in its use of middle-class, middle-aged metaphors, is incapable of being understood by his son whose point of view is completely different from his dad's. The two see the world differently, summarized by the father's final comment to the narrator as they leave the son's "pad" to take a taxi: "You tell me," he says. "What could I say to him? I couldn't say anything to him. I threw out everything I had. I couldn't make anything skip across the pond. None of them. Not one."
That is, not one of his reasons, hidden by his own metaphors, for wanting his son to return to respectable middle-class life made sense to his son.
Comment: He might have tried plain English. RayS.
Best American Essays of the Century. Editors: Oates and Atwan.