My parents only argue about important things like which way to sharpen a knife every time a Sunday roast is carved.
“You hold the knife and move the steel against the edge of it.”
“No, you hold the steel and drag the knife blade along it.”
When my father comes home from his car dealership, we hear him holler, “This house looks like a pig sty. Children’s dirty finger marks all over the place, every wall, every cabinet.”
“And your tools are outside rusting,” my mother shoots back.
“And your friends are phony intellectual snobs.”
“Yours are crooks.”
We were a very happy family.
At the dinner table, he tells my sister, “Your table manners are disgusting. Why can’t you be like your older sister? She has excellent manners.”
“You are favoring Dorin!” my mother cries in jealousy and rage.
My sister cries. My mother grips her fork and stares at him. I look down at my plate. My father has a satisfied look on his face.
My mother’s ancient cocker spaniel wanders into the kitchen. My father looks at me, pretends to kick her in the ribs and laughs.
He asks if I want to see my cat dance. He cuts squares of wax paper and attaches them to the cat’s paws with rubber bands. The cat tries to shake them off. My father roars.
DORIN SCHUMACHER’s writing on silent film star Helen Gardner appears in Women Screenwriters, The Encyclopedia of Early Cinema, This Film is Dangerous and many other publications. Her personal writing appears in The New York Times, Stonepile Writers Anthology, Fjords Review and many others.