Apple-Obsessed Author Fella

Tag: memories (page 1 of 6)

Things Chuck Remembers

Transmissions From Toddler-Town: The Devil’s Dictionary

He talks a lot, now, this kid. B-Dub’s got a whole contingent of words, some of them known, some of them guessed-at, some of then Lovecraftian gibbers that summon gray-skinned amphibious monstrosities from the deep. It all started with Mommy and Daddy, of course, but it always does and those don’t make particularly exciting first words — far more compelling to have a first word like “Pasketti.” Or “Bah-Bah.” Or “neo-anarchist regime.” Or, “Hey, lady, I got a diaper here that’s as heavy as a wet sweater and it’s killing all the plant life in a ten-yard radius. Can a little guy get a change or what?”

But for him, the first most persistent word was “truh,” for “truck,” which is his most beloved thing in the world. He will hold his toy trucks and he will hug them and kiss them on their windshields. He will try to feed them his food, making little pretendy-eating noises as he forces a green dump-truck to nosh on a couple green peas or a quadrant of sliced banana.

Now, of course, the trucks are waning in importance as the era of the “choo-choo” begins.

* * *

I should note that I fucking can’t stand Thomas the Tank Engine. I just can’t. I can’t do it. Especially the older versions where it’s all stop-motion? Something sinister going on there. Thomas has dead eyes. A blank face. I’m reminded of The Dark Tower whenever I see him. And he’s dumb as a bag of back hair, that Thomas. He’s like, the worst train ever. If he were a real train, by now someone would have decommissioned him and melted him down to slag. Not the least of all because he talks, and trains aren’t supposed to talk. THE EVIL BLUE BASTARD.

* * *

B-Dub knows most of his colors. Blue is blue. Purp is purple. Pink is pink. But then the next three are a bit… muddy. Oro for orange, roro for red, elro for yellow. At least all three of those colors are basically next to each other on the spectrum? I dunno.

The most confusing one is ebwee, which is — green?

That’s the thing. Sometimes he says things clear as a bell — “tractor,” for instance, or “camera.” But then some words are utter mysteries as to how they come about.

Elmo is Nen. Sleeve is Heebwee. Peanut is Pebble.

The real bite is that sometimes he’ll say a word perfectly clear — clear as like, a radio personality from the 1950s, all enunciated and everything.

Then he’ll never say it right ever again. Every time you get him to repeat it, the word dissolves further, like a sand castle eroded one splash of seawater after the next. Until the end he’s just squinting and noisily filling his diaper to mimic the word. Or perhaps just to shut us up.

* * *

That’s the other thing. He’s now aware of his diapers. And his bathroom habits.

He wants a potty. A proper potty. He’s a year-and-a-half and he wants to potty train?

Can’t we just keep him in diapers a little longer? Hell, can’t wear diapers? It sounds so easy!

* * *

He loves music. Particular favorites:

The entire “Join Us” album of They Might Be Giants.

The song, “Do It With A Rockstar,” by Amanda Palmer.

And, of course, “Gangnam Style.”

He rocks out to “Gangnam Style.” He even pauses his dance in the quiet space before Oppa Gangnam Style at which point he sometimes spaz-dances not like a well-mannered genteel Kentucky horse but rather like a bucking stallion who is also covered in fire ants.

A month or so ago, after listening to “Gangnam Style” for the 80,000th time, the song ends and he suddenly rips off his diaper and yells:


Which, I figure, is how that song should basically end anyway.

* * *

He has a handful of pre-established B-Dub dance moves.

He has, “The Traffic Cop.”

He has “The Invisible Teacup.”

He has “The Sassy Garden Hose.”

He has the “Horse-in-a-Mosh-Pit.”

He has the “Pocoyo Up-And-Down.”

* * *

Some things that B-Dub says aren’t words. They’re gestures. He knows “mustache” somehow, and lays his finger across his upper lip to let you know. “Beard” is him scratching his face. He has gestures for “more,” for “up,” for “down.” He makes sounds to indicate wanting to eat (he smacks his lips) or drink (he makes a sound like he’s slurping through a straw).

He also has words that have no apparent meaning. “Abuway.” Or “Dabooty.” Those two get a lot of play. I think they’re probably just him playing with sounds, having fun with language. But I also secretly hope they form his secret DJ name. Like, we take him to bed and then he quietly slips out and puts on his sequined DJ outfit and then he runs to the club as his secret identity, “DJ Abuway Da-Booty: Mixmaster Elite.”

* * *

Of course, “quietly slips out” is a joke. B-Dub doesn’t “quietly” do much. In fact, we’ve entered the tectonic tantrum portion of Toddlertown’s history, where sometimes he will throw an atomic shit-fit for no reason at all. Or sometimes there’s a reason so insane you just have to laugh. Like, yesterday, the new puppy had chewed up a dog toy and left remnants on the floor. B-Dub grabbed one. Just a little thumb-sized piece of black rubber. I quickly reached over and grabbed it away, and for like, ten seconds, he lost all semblance of sanity.

The toddler was a shrieking banshee, a rampaging ape, a tiny tornado in a truck shirt and sweat pants. And then I forget if he got distracted by something else or what, but he basically must’ve thought, “Oh, I don’t know if I really wanted that?” and then went to do something else.

* * *

He threw the first real scary tantrum the other night. A two-hour nuclear meltdown that had no cause and so we thought no solution. It was the point where we thought something was wrong. Like, if you’re a new parent, you sometimes see shadows on the wall where there are none, and if you’re a new parent who has ever read anything about “meningitis and children,” you have a brand new boogeyman. Because here’s the drill with meningitis for kids: you probably don’t know they have it and your doctor won’t know they have it and by the time you figure it out you’re probably too late and they’re probably going to die or be brain-damaged and so now — me, already a fucking hypochondriac — worries that every strange behavior by the boy is the first sign of meningitis. “Is he constipated? Is that a freckle? Hiccups? OH SHIT MENINGITIS.”

So: two-hour-long shit-fit felt worrying.

Thing is, there was a clue to the shit-fit buried in an earlier rage-fueled wail — B-Dub had called out for “Tar-uh,” which is to say, he wanted to go to Target. He loves Target. And he knows the name because, hey, I guess branding works on young minds. (Whee.)

We didn’t listen to him. We did not take him to Target.

And two hours later, I decided to ask him again: “Do you want to go to Target?” In part because we had to go. We had a list of things we needed. And suddenly, like that, the tantrum vanishes, whisked behind a curtain as his eyes light up. “Tar-uh?” “Yes, Target.”

Tantrum over.

We took him. He has never been happier. He ran around like that loose Ikea monkey.

And of course, we got totally fucking played. Because he wanted a train pillow and, normally stalwart against buying him everything the kid wants (“Sure, kid, you can have that machete and those cigarettes”), we crumpled like a tinfoil tent. He won that battle. But now we know.

We will stay frosty for the war to come.

* * *

For days he’s been saying, “Debuh.”

We thought it was one of his mystery words.

But then the other day he points to my bookshelf.

“Debuh,” he says.

On the shelf is a — well it’s an ornament, but I dunno that it’s a Christmas ornament, per se, and the reason I don’t know if it’s really appropriate to the season is because it’s…

…okay, it’s The Devil.

A red Devil in a nice suit with a pitchfork.

“Debuh,” he says. Devil.

I taught him that six months ago and I haven’t mentioned it since.

And suddenly, the Devil resurfaces. HIS TRUE FATHER. Or not.

Children are sponges. All they do is absorb.

* * *

We’ve finally — er, mostly — curbed our profanity. At this, the final hour, where he’s mimicking us and saying new words daily. We were once going to find new words to replace the vulgarities but instead settled on the surprisingly fun “letter replacement.” GD for goddamn, S for shit, F for — well, c’mon. So, if you’re really mad at someone, it’s all, “EFF THAT EMMEREFFING ESS-HEAD IN THE BEE-HOLE, GEE-DEE-IT.”

It’s fun because you can do that in public, too. And adults still know what you’re talking about.

It’s like stealth profanity.

* * *

It times out well because at the same time our profanity is reduced to letters, B-Dub is learning his letters. He’s got maybe half the alphabet down. Sometimes you ask him what a letter is and he gets real quiet and whispers it to you — “Beeeeeee” — like it’s a secret cipher he doesn’t want the rest of the world to crack.

Some letters are better said than others, of course. “H” is “Hay.” “F” is, perhaps appropriately, a fart noise. “Q” is B-Dub mimicking someone vacuuming, which took us a while to understand, but when you say that word, “vacuum,” you hear the non-existent “Q” in there.

It’s weird how kids see the world in pieces and sometimes bring strange pieces together.

* * *

He has an iPad.

I feel terribly privileged and terribly stupid for saying that — our 18-month-old has a goddamn iPad. Which is absurd, really. But we were looking into toddler-aged tablet computers and it’s like, a couple hundred bucks for some plastic Fisher Price “computer” and you pay $15 for the “apps” and — c’mon. So, I had my first-gen iPad and he really loved it and so I figured, why train him on some kiddie piece of plastic?

So, he has my old iPad.

(Which means, yes, I got a new one. Hey, whatever, work expense, DON’T JUDGE ME.)

He’s freakishly good at it. He’s so good he taught me multi-gestures I didn’t know existed. Because he has no rules. He has no sense of what you can and cannot do. The tablet’s all faux-tactile so he just touches the screen and fucking wiggles his fingers like they’re magic squid tentacles just to see what happens. And by now he knows how to open and close apps, how to pull up the tray or turn the screen off or whatever. He wants Grover, he gets Grover. He wants to draw on the drawing app, he closes Grover and pops that sumbitch open.

It’s already a sign that he’s going to know things I don’t when it comes to — well, technology, but really, everything else ever. At first that was terrifying but then it became really liberating, really wonderful. He should know things I don’t. That’s how we move forward, isn’t it? That’s how generations tumble one after the next, picking up things that the previous generation could not — or, even stranger, would not have even conceived of in the first damn place. It’s a beautiful thing watching him learn, watching him figure stuff out with his big blue eyes wide as moons, with his mouth slackened in some kind of puzzled bliss. Even through the tantrums, even through the misunderstood words, even through diapers that smell like a dump from a lion that ate a vulture that ate a hobo corpse, it’s a weird and beautiful thing watching a tiny human become not-so-tiny in both the body and the brain. As they grow, so do we.

The Real Lesson of 12/12/12

Today is 12/12/12.

You’re probably aware if you’re anywhere near social media.

You may find it a curious footnote.

You may find it cause for confetti and fire-ponies.

You may find it signals for you some kind of… ill-translated Apocalypse.

You may find it demands a cynical dismissive shaking-of-the-fist.

Here’s what I’m taking away from 12/12/12 —

This is the last time that we’ll experience a date like that. The same number repeated thrice.

That, in and of itself, matters not at all. Not one squiggly whit. Nary a blip on the cosmic radar.

What it reminds me, though, is that all of time operates like this. You and I will never experience 12/12/12 again. And we’ll also never experience 12/11/12 again. Or the 10th of November, 2012. Or the 23rd of April, 1999. In fact, this very hour — this very minute — will come and then go and never return. Each increment of time is a spaceship launched into the dark that will never return home. Every moment is a snowflake, a fingerprint, a unique atomic temporal signature whose repeat is guaranteed to be impossible.

What will you do with 12/12/12?

What will you do with this hour?

This minute?

This second?

How will you own each moment of time? How will your fingerprint meet its fingerprint?

How will you remember each day when its ember brightens and turns to ash?

Do something with your time. Because it ain’t coming back.

Why Am I Suddenly Excited For Star Wars, Episode VII?

The Disney-Lucasfilm corporate fornication did not reach my ears immediately upon its occurrence, as I was huddling in the dark around a barrel fire, eating charred squirrel during the hurricane.

But, once it did reach my ears, my initial response was an overwhelming…

Mnuh? Guh? Eh. Whatever.

Star Wars? Big part of my youth. As it was a part of the collective youth of many in my age range. The first trilogy was a fundamental narrative marker in our burgeoning personalities, for better or for worse. It left its fingerprint. Indelible and undeniable.

Then, the new trilogy came out — and, for that I was geeked beyond belief. That hearty nerd-wind filled my sails until I finally saw Phantom Menace and… was… excited at first? And then after that, a series of diminishing returns. My mind, affected the same way an addict’s mind is affected: that single dopamine rush never again experienced. The new trilogy could not match the power of the first, and with ever repeated viewing and every new film, the geyser of pleasure lessened until eventually it was just an airy splutter from a gassy garden hose. Splurt. Pbbbt. Dribble.

I’m not one of those people who think that the new trilogy is some kind of betrayal to my childhood. I don’t think they’re the worst films ever put on screen. They have some great stuff. They also have some face-punching, head-scratching storytelling going on. I don’t think Lucas betrayed us. I just think he kinda…

Missed the mark. Hubris and hamartia.

So: new trilogy gets announced, I just wasn’t that excited. I had as much excitement as one would have when, say, hearing an announcement for a new “triple-exxxtreme-ultra-mouth-blaster” flavor of Mountain Dew: I’m happy for those that care, but I won’t be partaking, thanks.

And yet, something’s changed.

I have this feeling —

Effervescent. Bubbly. Like Mountain Dew but without the horrible taste. A giddy, giggly something inside.

You might be saying, “Ahh, it’s because Chuck heard that Lucas isn’t really all that involved.”


Maybe it’s that Harrison Ford said he’d be happy to resume the role of Han Solo.

Or that Carrie Fisher wants to play Leia again.

Nope, and nope. (Actually, I’m not sure either of those are a good idea.)

Maybe it’s that Michael Arndt, kick-ass screenwriter and big story-thinker extraordinaire, is tackling the film? Or that they have a number of high-octane directors in line to take control of the franchise?

Nope, but that does inflate the “hope balloon” by several liters of warm, cozy air.

Here’s what it is:

When I saw Star Wars: Episode IV, I was four years old.

And, when Episode VII drops, my son will be four years old.

I’ll be able to take my son to a brand new Star Wars film.

And it’ll be his. It won’t be mine. Maybe I’ll like it. Maybe I’ll love it. But if it’s done right — and I hope that it is — it’ll mark him in a way that it won’t mark me. It’ll be a thing he remembers, a thing that gets him happy and gives him imagination fuel for the next ten, twenty, thirty years.

That’s why I’m excited. Because it’s coming full circle. It’s not about Lucas or Han Solo or any screenwriter or director. It’s about what I can show to and share with my son.

I’m excited because the Force will one day be with him, too.

*lightsaber sound*

*credits roll*

Transmissions From Toddler-Town: The Aristocrats!


Living with a toddler is like living with a Ritalin-addled velociraptor. And as I’ve said in the past, every day is like that moment in Jurassic Park where the dinosaurs learn to open doors.




B-Dub now says a rather robust contingent of words.

Mom, Dad, Doggie, Truck, Girl, Boo-Boo, Puddle, Meow, Moo, Turtle, Tiger, Purple, Pop-Pop, Mom-Mom, Banana, Night-Night, Yeah, Hi, No, Tea, Teddy, Keys, Elmo, Popsicle, Orange, Red.

Some words get said five, ten times, and never return.

Some are permanent, and get thrown-around in daily use.

Next up, we’re angling for: Blue, chicken, milk, pogrom, pony, vodka, cigarillos, annihilation, Superman, orbital laser, and pterodactyl. So, fingers crossed, everybody.




Oh, when I say he “says” them, I didn’t always mean successfully. Truck is truh, or troo-ah. Girl is gee. Orange is oro. And so on. But see, now I get it. I used to meet people with toddlers and the kid would jabber some incomprehensible string of sounds (“Gobba goobey pee pee snerk florg waka waka”) and the parents are like, “Oh, sure, honey, you can have a sip of milk and then you want to go pee-pee and afterwards throw our G.I. Joes into the large hadron collider again? You got it, little person!”

And I was like, “How the fuck did you just decipher the flurry of clicks and beeps that came out of that fool kid’s mouth?” It’s because as a parent you just know. You start to draw the line between each piece of Lovecraftian gibberish and the object or concept it represents.





Goddamn trucks.

This kid? He loves trucks. He woke up the other night and on the baby monitor we did not hear him call for Mom, nor for Dad. No, in the sweetest, saddest voice he could muster, he called: “Truh?”

He loves trucks.


More to the point: he is obsessed with trucks. We literally have him flipping through truck magazines, like, the ones you find at truck stops and the like? Ads for tractor trailers and such? He flips through them at meal times like he’s actually shopping for a Peterbilt or some shit.

He’s got like, some kind of sixth sense for the things. He’ll suddenly jerk his head up, wide-eyed, and say, “Truh?” And you’re like, “No, weirdo, there are no trucks nearby–” But then you realize he heard a very distant sound of a truck on the road, or he caught sight of one of his truck toys on a very high shelf behind like, a stack of Hustlers or something, or he’ll totter over to a recliner and reach underneath to procure one of his truck toys. As if it called to him. Psychically.




Everyone thinks he’s two years old. He’s taller than some two-year-olds. We figure maybe it’s time for him to start smoking a pipe or learning how to drive stick or whatever it is that two-year-olds do.




He headbutts things. And then he says, “Bump” or “Bonk” when he does it. Which he thinks is endlessly hilarious. And it is, the first couple times. But a toddler running around and headbutting things — couch cushions, the floor, the dog, YOUR SHINBONE — stops being hilarious pretty effing quick. He might as well just run around and punch you. Which is probably next on the menu.




Toddlers throw some spectacular shit-fits. I mean, damn. Toddlers are like the genetic cross-breed between a howler monkey and a typhoon. The weird thing about the shit-fits is that they’re not always… a thing you understand. Nor are they necessarily predictable. Sometimes, sure. He wants something but can’t have it, meltdown. He’s really tired, hasn’t taken any naps, yes, a small psychotic break is incoming.

But other times, it just hits. Like lightning out of clear skies. Some tiny little grain of sand gets in his diaper and it’s suddenly, BOOM. His body becomes a writhing jumble of dead weight, and trying to pick him up is like trying to pick up a pile of grape jelly. He wails like it’s the end of the world. Spins around on the floor like one of the Three Stooges. And again: headbutting.

These aren’t super-common, but they happen often enough you’re ready to blame anything. Teething. Reality television. Climate change.

As a parent, you start to figure out ways to defuse situations like that. You misdirect or redirect (“Oh, look, a truck!”). You walk him around outside, though holding a struggling, meltdowning toddler is like trying to cradle a bobcat someone lit on fire.

Sometimes, though, you just gotta let ’em ride it out.

Let the storm go back out to sea from whence it came.

And at least the shit-fits make them tired.




Oh, and sometimes you can’t help it, but the shit-fits are so bizarre, you laugh. You really laugh. It’s like, he’s on the floor thrashing about like a fish on the dock and blubbering some word that makes no sense in this context (“PURRRRPLE”) and you crack up. You try to stifle it, but it’s hard, because the more you try to hold it in the harder it all wants to come out. Like a burp in church.

And laughing doesn’t help them. It only seems to aggravate the tantrum.

And that only makes you laugh harder.

Being a parent is cruel. But very, very funny.




He likes to hide things.

And when he does, he throws up his hands (as if to say, “THE ARISTOCRATS!”) and gives you a sweet and quizzical look. He learned this because we did it, of course, one time, and all it takes is one time. One time he hid something and we held up our hands and said, “Where did it go?” And boom, like that, it clicked.

Kids are sponges. Inconsistent sponges. You never know when they’re going to pick up a word or a behavior. Thankfully, he hasn’t picked up any bits of profanity yet — and we have started to officially curb the language. Last night we got away for a dinner without B-Dub and it was like a great balloon popping. We just sat in the car, cursing up a storm and laughing. I mean, some truly vile shit came out of our mouths. It would’ve melted his little tiny human brain.

Anyway, the lesson here is, if B-Dub totters up to you and makes the “ta-da!” gesture, it means he’s hidden something. Like the remote control, or your car keys, or your insulin. Good times.




Parenting seems a constant struggle between the easy and the difficult, and frequently, the easy path is the least advisable one to walk. It’d be easier to plop them down in front of the TV to let them zombie-out while you get some laundry done. It’d be easier to give them the crappy sugary food they’d much prefer than to try to find ways to get them to like and crave some goddamn broccoli. It’d be easier to yell, or walk away, or stick them in a box marked FREE CHIMP and put it out with the recycling.

It’s a thing you have to deal with daily, and it’s not always easy to, well, avoid the easy. Sometimes you just want to slide into poor decisions because they’re simpler, more straightforward, with far less effort.

But then you realize, well, if I wanted easy, I shouldn’t have had a kid in the first place.

So you do the hard thing because they’re better off, and that’s your whole purpose as a parent. To hopefully ensure they’re better off.




Some of this sounds kind of awful. Or like I’m complaining. Let it be said: this is furthest-flung from the truth. Toddlers are goddamn awesome. Babies, like, infant-babies? Boring as a sack of carpet samples. They just sit there. Punching the air and squirming. Cute! Very cute. But dull as a butter knife.

Toddlers are hilarious. Start to finish, day to day, they’re hilarious. They do things and say things you never expect, as if some strange person comes into their room late at night to teach them new things. They’re like having drunk people over for dinner every night — they wander around your house and do really weird things like headbutt stuff or hide their trucks in your shoe or see themselves reflected in the oven glass and then kiss their own reflection (seriously, B-Dub does this — the kid’s a bonafide Narcissist).

And they’re capable of wildly sweet gestures, too. A random hug out of nowhere is like, WUUUUUT. Or they’ll lean on you, or give you a little smooch, or bring you a present (like your insulin, or a mouse they killed when you let them outside). B-Dub will sometimes walk up to you, say your name or presumed title, then pat you on the hip or shoulder as if to say, “Good job, old horse. Good job.” He’ll give you a little nod and then totter off again to try to, I dunno, choke on a penny or fling himself from the top of the couch because that’s how he rolls.

Point is, it’s only when they get to be this age that you start to see the people they’re going to become. And it’s then that it all starts to really become worth it — like, the equation of your effort and frustration and sleepless nights start to yield a very real sum, and the sum grows every day as if it’s yielding a kind of emotional interest that you can bank and visit on days both great and not-so-bloody-great.




Oh, and since we’re gluttons for punishment, now we’re looking for a new doggy.

Wish us luck. Or, at least, grant us your sympathy.

My Father Ate Really Weird Things

My father was a farmer, not a foodie.

He ate and drank normal things most of the time, of course — steak a favorite, maybe a Beck’s beer. Or at night, a blackberry brandy. Or a blended Scotch like Dewar’s.

But between the margins lived very curious choices of food.

He’d eat whole cloves of garlic, raw. Munch, munch, munch. The resultant breath potent enough to punch a hole through a vampire’s breastbone and turn his heart to strongly-scented ash.

Horseradish could be grated onto anything. He’d also eat that raw, right out of the garden.

Hell, the raw garden was a good place to find him. Grazing like some kind of horse or antelope. Picking up green peppers, parsley, tomatoes, beans. Crunch crunch crunch.

If my mother made asparagus in boiling water, Dad would drink the asparagus water. A hot, tall, frothy glass of mm-mmm asparagus water. It looked like a big cup of pee. Which is, perhaps, appropriate.

You know Clamato juice? Clam Tomato juice? He’d drink that, too. Most people make dips from it, or use it in recipes. He’d drink a glass of it. Warm, cold, didn’t matter. Glug, glug, glug.

Hot peppers were always on the menu. Never seemed to bother him, either. He grew a wide variety in the garden and would occasionally go out and sample the wares by just popping them in his mouth like they were fucking Triscuits. Didn’t seem to faze him. He’d occasionally say something like, “Hot,” or, “This has good heat,” and then he’d see if I wanted a bite. And it was a trap. Always a trap. Because he’d goad you, tell you it wasn’t that bad, or maybe he’d say from the beginning that it “wasn’t hot at all,” then you’d eat it and from the first moment your tongue touched the thing it felt like someone had jabbed a sparking Stun Gun into your mouth. Alarm bells and synapses firing. And he’d laugh.

He grew these little tiny peppers — “Thai hots,” he called them. Bright red. Each no bigger than the tip of your pinky finger. He’d take two of those, break the skin with a knife (not even chopping them), then toss those two into a pot of elk chili that simmered for the rest of the day. That chili was the deadliest chili around. A turbid, blood-red brew. Delicious, admittedly — but it even got to him. Dad would sweat and snorfle and cough. And keep on eating. It was like a Szechuan hot pot had made sweet spicy love to a bowl of Tex-Mex chili. You could probably boil an elk alive in that pot.

He ate organ meat without batting an eye. Something I’ve only recently come to, myself. His favorite part of the chicken was the “gizzards,” which meant not just the gizzards but all the bird’s inner workings. Heart, liver, etc. All the little inner bits fried up in a pan with some onions and butter, maybe some old-school lard.

We’d go fishing sometimes and catch these gutter eels and one time he was like, “Hell with it,” and we put ’em in the cooler and took them home. He went at them with a cleaver and cut them up into something resembling hunks of garden hose, or maybe something out of an H.R. Giger artwork. Then cooked them and ate them. I guess they weren’t great but they did the trick. I wouldn’t go near ’em.

He ate a lot of fish that we caught. We had catfish at our pond that were big sonofabitches. Long as my arm, thick as my thigh. You’d throw bread into the water and there they’d come, slow like whales, mouths open wide, bread and water disappearing into that fleshy aperture. We didn’t kill or eat those fish, though. Hell, one time a great blue heron — beautiful birds, by the way — started paying visits to our pond and finding it a rather epic buffet. Spearing sunnies and bass and maybe trying for the catfish. So Dad shot it. Which was illegal at the time and, I suspect, still is. His reasoning was, “Bird was eating my fish,” and that was that.

We used to go and shoot birds sometimes — pheasants, geese, chukars — and then have to eat gingerly so you didn’t crack a tooth on the shot. That’s not weird so much, but it comes to mind so there it is.

Weird was pickled pig’s feet. He loved those. Mason jar of those looked like something out of a mad doctor’s laboratory. Fibrous hooves calling to mind a forensics scene where they discover a body in a swamp.

Food was a thing for us. We were a farming family — though by the time I was old enough to have a clue, we raised whitetail deer and that was it (and we generally didn’t eat those deer but one time we ate one and that, well, let’s just say that did not go over well). Later, elk. But farming life is hard and even though the sting of that hard life was gone from ours it still remained and so with it came that utilitarian “You eat everything,” and that meant whatever was on your plate and in your glass even if you didn’t like it. (Though that ended one day when I was forced to eat eggplant and I threw up at the table.)

Really though this isn’t about food. It’s about memory. What we take with us, what we forget. Who we become because of those things. Father’s Day will always be a reflection — like his birthday, like my son’s birthday, like Christmas, like all those days that ping the emotional radar — and it’s always interesting to see what memories float up out of that turbid blood-red brew. One memory leads to the next and the next and the next after that, feeling your way around the dark with open hands to see what you find. It’s good. Strange, but good. Someday, when I’m dead, my son will do the same thing, I hope. Piecing together those memories. Finding a thread and pulling on it until he gets to something he didn’t expect to remember. I guess that’s how we are, fathers and sons. And mothers and daughters and all of us with whatever memories we carry. Memories and stories and lost images found anew.

Happy Father’s Day, you motherfuckers.