Dad threw the knife clattering down between us on the kitchen floor. We were both already oiled down and wearing loincloths. I had a bad feeling about this.

“Okay, boy,” Dad said, crouched and ready to spring. There was a mad gleam in his eye. “Let’s go. It’s Oedipal time!”

Mom was standing by the center island chopping carrots for a salad. She was wearing a polka-dot halter and a pair of denim cut-offs. She looked pretty hot back then. For a mom, that is.

“Oh, Bert. He’s only twelve.”

“He’s old enough,” Dad said. Was he leering? I don’t want to think he was leering. “Aren’t you, me boy-o?”

Mom’s knife went chop-chop-chop on the wooden cutting board. “What in heaven’s name are you talking about?”

“The boy knows what this is about.”

The thing was, I did know what this was about. Dad had come into my room the night before and sat on the side of my bed as he often did when he came home late and guilty, smelling of rye and in no hurry to face Mom. He’d missed my Babe Ruth League game for the millionth time and that evening I’d been the starting pitcher. He was doing his best to make it up to me, asking me a bunch of meaningless questions about the game and talking about batting averages and curve balls and such. I was impatient for him to go to bed and leave me alone. I wanted to get back to what he’d interrupted. We were both doing our best to pretend neither of us were aware of the all-too-obvious way I was tenting the bedsheet.

Mom rolled her eyes and turned her back on the both of us. “You boys.”

She sounded just like one of those exasperated moms on a sitcom.

Dad made a feint for the knife. One of those big-bladed hunting affairs with the serrated edge for skinning a bear or something.  He danced back with a cool look on his face. He did this two more times, grinning each time when he saw me flinch. That’s when he made his move. But I was ready for him. He slipped on some oil, lost his footing, and went down heavily on his surgically-repaired left knee. I saw my opportunity.

Don’t ask me how I knew what to do. Instinct, I guess. That’s the only way I can explain it. Before I even knew what was what, I had the knife in one hand and Dad’s big sweaty nutsack in the other. He yowled like a cat caught in a car door, but I didn’t let go and I didn’t let it distract me none. I sawed that serrated blade right through the gristle. Blood and semen spewed everywhere.

Mom stamped her foot. “I just washed these floors. Look at the mess you two have made! Someone is going to clean that up and it’s not going to be me.”

It was probably just a hallucination brought on by the trauma of the whole event, but I can swear I heard a laugh track. I sat there grinning stupidly with the knife in one gore-dripping hand and the sorry deflated sack from which I could trace my origins dangling from the other.

Dad took it better than I would have thought. He retreated to the bathroom, and when he hobbled downstairs some fifteen minutes later, it was with a wad of sanitary napkins stuffed into the front of his shorts. He was still determined to cook the steaks as planned. He was a trooper; you had to hand him that.

He cut a sad, diminished, lonely-looking figure standing out there by the barbecue pit as the flames shot high overhead. Mom and I watched him from the patio. She’d pulled her chair up close to mine and we sipped wine coolers. I almost felt sorry for the old bastard.