Saturday, April 05, 2008

"Lamentations Of The Father." By Ian Frazier.

I hope the author doesn't mind my lifting this wholesale - it's just too funny, and people don't always follow the admonition to READ IT ALL!

“Lamentations of the Father” by Ian Frazier

Laws of Forbidden Places

Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of
all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may eat, but not
in the living room.

Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you may
eat, but not in the living room.

Of the cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, you may eat,
but not in the living room. Of the cereal grains, of the corn
and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that
are of bright color and unknown provenance you may eat, but not
in the living room.

Of quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal
treats you may eat, but absolutely not in the living room.

Of the juices and other beverages, yea, even of those in sippy-
cups, you may drink, but not in the living room; neither may you
carry such therein.

Indeed, when you reach the place where the living room carpet
begins, of any food or beverage there you may not eat, neither
may you drink.

But if you are sick, and are lying down and watching something,
then may you eat in the living room.

Laws When at Table

And if you are seated in your high chair, or in a chair such as
a greater person might use, keep your legs and feet below you as
it were. Neither raise up your knees, nor place your feet upon
the table, for that is an abomination unto me. Yea, even when
you have an interesting bandage to show, your feet upon the
table are an abomination, and worthy of rebuke.

Drink your milk as it is given you, neither use on it any
utensils, nor fork, nor knife, nor spoon, for that is not what
they are for; if you will dip your blocks in the milk, and lick
it off, you shall be sent away.

When you have drunk, let the empty cup then remain upon the
table, and do not bite it upon its edge and by your teeth hold
it to your face in order to make noises in it sounding like a
duck: for you shall be sent away.

When you chew your food, keep your mouth closed until you have
swallowed, and do not open it to show your brother or your
sister what is within; I say to you, do not so, even if your
brother or your sister hath done the same to you.

Eat your food only; do not eat that which is not food; neither
seize the table between your jaws, nor use the raiment of the
table to wipe your lips. I say again to you, do not touch it,
but leave it as it is.

And though your stick of carrot does indeed resemble a marker,
draw not with it upon the table, even in pretend, for we do not
do that, that is why. And though the pieces of broccoli are very
like small trees, do not stand them upright to make a forest,
because we do not do that, that is why.

Sit just as I have told you, and do not lean to one side or the
other, nor slide down until you are nearly slid away. Heed me;
for if you sit like that, your hair will go into the syrup. And
now behold, even as I have said, it has come to pass.

Laws Pertaining to Dessert

For we judge between the plate that is unclean and the plate
that is clean, saying first, if the plate is clean, then you
shall have dessert.

But of the unclean plate, the laws are these: If you have eaten
most of your meat, and two bites of your peas with each bite
consisting of not less than three peas each, or in total six
peas, eaten where I can see, and you have also eaten enough of
your potatoes to fill two forks, both forkfuls eaten where I can
see, then you shall have dessert.

But if you eat a lesser number of peas, and yet you eat the
potatoes, still you shall not have dessert; and if you eat the
peas, yet leave the potatoes uneaten, you shall not have
dessert, no, not even a small portion thereof.

And if you try to deceive by moving the potatoes or peas around
with a fork, that it may appear you have eaten what you have
not, you will fall into iniquity. And I will know, and you shall
have no dessert.

On Screaming

Do not scream; for it is as if you scream all the time. If you
are given a plate on which two foods you do not wish to touch
each other are touching each other, your voice rises up even to
the ceiling, while you point to the offense with the finger of
your right hand; but I say to you, scream not, only remonstrate
gently with the server, that the server may correct the fault.

Likewise if you receive a portion of fish from which every piece
of herbal seasoning has not been scraped off, and the herbal
seasoning is loathsome to you and steeped in vileness, again I
say, refrain from screaming. Though the vileness overwhelm you,
and cause you a faint unto death, make not that sound from
within your throat, neither cover your face, nor press your
fingers to your nose. For even I have made the fish as it should
be; behold, I eat it myself, yet shall not surely die.

Concerning Face and Hands

Cast your countenance upward to the light, and lift your eyes to
the hills, that I may more easily wash you off. For the stains
are upon you; even to the very back of your head, there is rice

And in the breast pocket of your garment, and upon the tie of
your shoe, rice and other fragments are distributed in a manner
wonderful to see.

Only hold yourself still; hold still, I say. Give each finger in
its turn for my examination thereof, and also each thumb. Lo,
how iniquitous they appear. What I do is as it must be; and you
shall not go hence until I have done.

Various Other Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances

Bite not, lest you be also bitten again. Neither drink of your
own bath water, nor of the bath water of any kind; nor rub your
feet on bread, even if it be in the package; nor rub yourself
against cars, not against any building; nor eat sand.

Leave the cat alone, for what has the cat done, that you should
so afflict it with tape? And hum not the humming in your nose as
I read, nor stand between the light and the book. Indeed, you
shall drive me to madness. Nor forget what I said about the


At 9:28 PM, Blogger Boy on a bike said...

That is quite brilliant.

What sayest thou about blowing of bubbles into receptacles of milk?

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this piece and heard it broadcast on National public radio's Prairie Home Companion when Frazier first wrote it. you are actually missing the final section that includes the actual lamentation. I've included the text for it here as it really makes the humor of the piece come full circle in it's parody of the Biblical cycle it it meant to mimic.

Complaints and Lamentations

O my children, you are disobedient. For when I tell you what you must do, you argue and dispute hotly even to the littlest detail; and when I do not accede, you cry out, and hit and kick. Yes, and even sometimes do you spit, and shout "stupid-head" and other blasphemies, and hit and kick the wall and the molding thereof when you are sent to the corner. And though the law teaches that no one shall be sent to the corner for more minutes than he has years of age, yet I would leave you there all day, so mighty am I in anger. But upon being sent to the corner you ask straightaway, "Can I come out?" and I reply, "No, you may not come out." And again you ask, and again I give the same reply. But when you ask again a third time, then you may come out.

Hear me, O my children, for the bills they kill me. I pay and pay again, even to the twelfth time in a year, and yet again they mount higher than before. For our health, that we may be covered, I give six hundred and twenty talents twelve times in a year; but even this covers not the fifteen hundred deductible for each member of the family within a calendar year. And yet for ordinary visits we still are not covered, nor for many medicines, nor for the teeth within our mouths. Guess not at what rage is in my mind, for surely you cannot know.

For I will come to you at the first of the month and at the fifteenth of the month with the bills and a great whining and moan. And when the month of taxes comes, I will decry the wrong and unfairness of it, and mourn with wine and ashtrays, and rend my receipts. And you shall remember that I am that I am: before, after, and until you are twenty-one. Hear me then, and avoid me in my wrath, O children of me.


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