the first voice you hear on the recording is mine. “here we are,” i say. my tone is cheerful, but a catch in my throat betrays how nervous i am.then, a little grandly, i pronounce my father’s name: “john james vlahos.”august 2017. subscribe to wired.“esquire,” a second voice on the recording chimes in, and this one word—delivered as a winking parody of lawyerly pomposity—immediately puts me more at ease. the speaker is my dad. we are sitting across from each other in my parents’ bedroom, him in a rose-colored armchair and me in a desk chair. it’s the same room where, decades ago, he calmly forgave me after i confessed that i’d driven the family station wagon through a garage door. now it’s may 2016, he is 80 years old, and i am holding a digital audio recorder.sensing that i don’t quite know how to proceed, my dad hands me a piece of notepaper marked with a skeletal outline in his handwriting. it consists of just a few broad headings: “family history.” “family.” “education.” “career.” “extracurricular.”“so … do you want to take one of these cat­egories and dive into it?” i ask.“i want to dive in,” he says confidently. “well, in the first place, my mother was born in the village of kehries—k-e-h-r-i-e-s—on the greek island of evia …” with that, the session is under way.related storieswe are sitting here, doing ...