Father Knows Least

By John Yau

Father liked to say that things were different back then, that even the snowflakes were larger, more fulfilling, especially if you were afflicted with a hunger that only snowflakes could cure, but mother disagreed, standing her ground, fierce and toothsome–a tall glass of dish soap weathering a storm of filthy laundry. This duet of bits and pieces gained notice as the Third Neo-Mexican Symphony, a name that hardly does the event justice.  
 
Once they began soaring over the dining room table set for six, with the next door neighbors, the Doggs, a ragged bunch of drop-in guests, sucking on martinis and thumbs, there was no telling what might happen when father grabbed the gleaming blade over the mantelpiece, where (he liked to say) sharp objects belong, yelling “the broad battle axe deserves a good sacking,” but since we were children who had not attained our full height, the growth spurt parceled out by our parsimonious parson, we closed our eyes, and began living in another city on a plain of smokestacks, and, on weekends, visiting a faraway farm

where

mother and father are playing whist, while we wag our tails and cavort with the mice that
patiently constructed the Margarine Line dividing China from France.  When you do this, you also have an opportunity to do that with less. This is the case of the crust being thicker than the interior, cans of peaches bought in a department store known for its salesmen, who had the peculiar habit of helping dowagers fit their thickly encrusted feet into rows of smooth shoes made from animals that lurk in corners. After many hours of practice, we learned to slurp the yellow nectar gathering on the ends of our chins.

Wound licking became a national pastime we could not do without. Even now, after all the years of economic surplus handed up to those more fortunate than us.

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