Train Me

Train Me
by Melissa Knox

The conductor shouted, "You're a liah! You're a liah!" My father, a North Carolinian, paused, so he could stop laughing long enough to tell his story. When the train pulled in, the man yelled from the car’s other end: "You-rail—eee—ah!" The passengers loved this, Dad said, sipping his gin and tonic. 

The town, Dad reminded us, was pronounced, “You-rail-ya.”

Dad’s other favorite tale involved three hunters, went huntin', drew straws to see who's gonna cook, one who had to cook says he'd do it til the others complained, but they never complained. Got real sick of cooking. One day (Mom winced as he spoke) the cook, he got tired, so he found this big ole moose turd in the woods, put it in a pie, baked it up (we never wondered where he'd found the oven in the woods) and served it: that pie looked mighty fine.

My brother and I leaned forward for the punchline, but Dad delayed, extending his large, hairy trigger finger, advising us to pull it, so he could burp. We fought for the chance to go first, and my father managed two burps as my mother went through contortions—she was the Furies and the Maenads rolled into one.

Finally, Dad would choke out, through his laughter, "So one of 'em says, 'This pie tastes just like moose turd!” Eyes round, he’d add, “But it’s good!” 

The truth of our dinner table—that our parents were made for anyone but each other—was on display every evening.

If I said so, my mother would tell me I was a liar.


Melissa Knox's book, Divorcing Mom, (Cynren, 2019) received praise from Phyllis Chesler, Helen Fremont, and Ruth Wariner. Recent writing appears in West Texas Literary Review and The Citron Review. Melissa writes a blog, The Critical Mom.