A Girl Named Zippy (Zippy #1)

all men of a certain age tell this story, and they give themselves away by always using the same fruit. I have yet to meet the father who will look his child in the eye and say, “I was happy just to get some seedless grapes.” But

But I think that what you'll discover more and more as you get older is that most people aren't thinking about you at all.

Contrary to popular opinion, my dad was not a lazy man. He was not lazy at all, for instance, when it came to Going Places In His Truck. He was also very industrious about Preparing To Go Camping. And if something really interested him, he would work on it all day.

Decoupage hit Mooreland pretty hard...

Honey, I know you like to take a drink, and that's all right, but be forewarned that I ain't your maid and I ain't your punching-bag, and if you ever raise your hand to me you'd best kill me. Because otherwise I'll wait till you're asleep; sew you into the bed; and beat you to death with a frying pan.

Honey, I know you like to take a drink, and that’s all right, but be forewarned that I ain’t your maid and I ain’t your punching-bag, and if you ever raise your hand to me you’d best kill me. Because otherwise I’ll wait till you’re asleep; sew you into the bed; and beat you to death with a frying pan.” Until

I could no longer look at him. I wished, in fact, for blindness.

I figure heaven will be a scratch-and-sniff sort of place, and one of my first requests will be the Driftwood in its prime, while it was filled with our life. And later I will ask for the smell of my dad's truck, which was a combination of basic truck (nearly universal), plus his cologne (Old Spice), unfiltered Lucky Strikes, and when I was very lucky, leaded gasoline. If I could have gotten my nose close enough I would have inhaled leaded gasoline until I was retarded. The tendency seemed to run in my family; as a boy my uncle Crandall had an ongoing relationship with a gas can he kept in the barn. Later he married and divorced the same woman four times, sometimes marrying other women in between, including one whose name was, honestly, Squirrelly.

I got kicked out of Brownies and they won’t give me another chance to keep my clothes on at camp. Also

I later discovered that in order to be a good athlete one must care intensely what is happening with a ball, even if one doesn't have possession of it. This was ultimately my failure: my inability to work up a passion for the location of balls.

I’m never reading poetry again unless it’s by James Whitcomb Riley!” And I went storming out of the house to try and shake off the injury done to me with words.

in the 1970s people still referred to my mother as a Communist because she had a subscription to The Atlantic Monthly,

I once heard her tell a friend that she was, in fact, a 120-pound woman, but she kept herself wrapped in fat in order to prevent bruising.

I respect every way in which you are a troublemaker, now get up and do what your mother says.

It was an Indian summer afternoon in Indiana, a rare gift. We walked home slowly. I thought Mom might be wrong about me having all I needed, but just at that moment, I had no need to complain.

My mother was good at reading books, making cinnamon biscuits, and coloring in a coloring book. Also she was a good eater of popcorn and knitter of sweaters with my initials right in them. She could sit really still. She knew how to believe in God and sing really loudly. When she sneezed our whole house rocked. My father was a great smoker and driver of vehicles..He could hold a full coffee cup while driving and never spill a drop, even going over bumps. He lost his temper faster than anyone.

never would. In short, he was what it meant to be a father and a man in 1971. Up against his power I could see none of his failings.

...she waited until she and my grandfather Anthel were just home from their honeymoon, and then sat him down and told him this: "Honey, I know you like to take a drink, and that's all right, but be forewarned that I ain't your maid and I ain't your punching bag, and if you ever raise your hand to me you'd best kill me. Because otherwise I'll wait until you're asleep; sew you into the bed; and beat you to death with a frying pan." Until he died, I am told, my grandfather was a gentle man.

Sometimes the side of the house would exert a strange and supernatural magnetic force upon my body, which would cause me to fly up against it, face first, and stick there.

That cat doesn't have a lick of sense,' I said, sighing.

Well, honey, he's not right in the head,' Dad said, flipping his cigarette into the front yard.

I glared at him. 'And just what do you mean by that?'

Dad counted on his fingers. 'He's cross-eyed; he jumps out of trees after birds and then doesn't land on his feet; he sleeps with his head smashed up against the wall, and the tip of his tail is crooked.'

Oh yeah? Well, how about this: he once got locked in a basement by evil Petey Scroggs in the middle of January and survived on snow and little frozen mice. When I'm cold at night he sleeps right on my face. Of that whole litter of kittens he came out of he's the only one left. One of his brothers didn't even have a butthole.'

I stand corrected. PeeDink is a survivor.

The book was so clean and white, and the letters were so perfectly black and defenseless; it would have been like tearing the ears off a kitten.

The distance between Mooreland in 1965 and a city like San Francisco in 1965 is roughly equivalent to the distance starlight must travel before we look up casually from a cornfield and see it.

There are people in this world so perfect that the fact of them feels like a personal gift,

They did a lot of cleaning in their house, which I considered to be a sign of immoral parenting. The job of parents, as I saw it, was to watch television and step into a child's life only when absolutely necessary, like in the event of a tornado or a potential kidnapping.

Well, I’m here to tell you: I’ve seen women passionately devoted to men who couldn’t pile bricks, and whole families of slack-jawed nose pickers held together by “love,” not to mention all those people who curl up at night with dogs that have gunk running out of their eyes, dogs who earlier peed where they were about to walk and spent ten minutes licking their own wormy butts.

What kind of good deeds? Like Girl Scouts? Because I got kicked out of Brownies and they won't give me another chance to keep my clothes on at camp.