The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. Isaiah 50:4
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The Little Wretches: VIDEOS

My Father's Monologue on Thanksgiving, Scene from Red Beets & Horseradish

(The Little Wretches)
January 28, 2018
Robert Andrew Wagner



My dad drank. And when I got old enough to start worrying about what other people think, his behavior embarrassed me, and I made some remark about him being a lousy drunk. And my mom tore into me, “Don’t you ever speak like that about your father! You wouldn’t make a pimple on your father’s ass.” 


After all the times I called the police to stop them from killing each other, that’s what she said to me, my mother did. More than once. A pimple on his ass.


I came home one night, may have been fourteen or fifteen years old, it’s foggy now, and the next-door neighbor lady stood in the doorway and wouldn’t let me in the house. Something had happened, and whatever it was, it was worse than usual. She told me to spend the night at a friend’s house. 


But to do that would be to ask for help, and I’m not good at asking for help. So I wandered around for most of the night, up one street and down the other. You know, I missed a lot of school in those days, but for some reason, I had it in my mind that this particular morning I absolutely had to go to school. My dad used to leave for work at 5:30 AM, so I waited till after he was gone, then I went in the house to get ready for school, you know, clean shirt, brush my teeth and wet down my hair. 


The house was empty. No trace of my mom, my sister or my brother. And there was a puddle of blood on the bathroom floor. It wasn’t even fully dry, more blood than I’ve ever seen. For years, every time I used that bathroom, I could still make out the outline on the tile where the dried blood had been. 


As it turns out, my mother had stabbed my dad, missed the major organs and arteries, I guess. And get this, he still got up and went to work the next morning, walked ten-miles delivering the mail. Came home, crashed, and did it again the next day. As far as I know, he never even went to see the doctor.


The first holiday that came along after this incident was Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that you’re supposed to spend with family. I mean, if you spend Thanksgiving alone, people feel sorry for you.


So anyhow, it’s me and my dad at Thanksgiving dinner at my uncle’s house—my uncle, my aunt, my two cousins, and my uncle’s buddy, Buddha, maybe others, I don’t remember—and everybody is doing their best not to say anything that relates to how badly my dad has messed up his life, and my dad is doing his best to not ask for a drink. I mean, he managed to go the whole day without drinking. 


While we’re making conversation around the table, Buddha asks me about lifting weights and when does wrestling season start? And I made the mistake of saying, “I’m stronger than my dad.” 


Buddha and my uncle look at each other then back at me, like, with pity. They pity me that I could be so stupid. Pity and disgust.


My uncle was a quiet person, but this time, he had to speak.





And now that I think about it, they probably didn’t even know about my dad getting stabbed. And I’ll tell you another thing. It didn’t happen right away, but my dad stopped drinking. No AA. No sponsor. No rehab. No twelve-step anything. He wanted his wife to come back. And he wanted it so badly that he stopped drinking. 

Did she come back? No. Not ever. But he stayed sober till after she died. And then, on the day that would have been her birthday, he got drunk and stayed that way till he joined her.