It could have been the war
or his impoverished youth
but for Dad it was a mortal sin
to pay list price,
worse than marrying out of the faith
or eating in front of the shul
on Yom Kippur.
He returned our birthday gifts
because we paid too much
and looked down at men
who’d taken petite wives
as if they’d gotten shortchanged
by the butcher.

He couldn’t resist a sale.
Like Jesus he multiplied
wonder bread and gefilte fish,
returning from the Super with
sufficient rolls of toilet paper
to wipe the tushes of an army.
I asked him, where I came from
and he replied, the discount house.

Once I was carried off by
a swarm of beehive hairdos
picking over lingerie
like vultures divying the kill.
They found me under a table,
clutching a red brassiere,
my shorts soaked clean through,
my pride torn into a thousand tiny pieces.
We headed for the Boys Department,
where, luckily, the pants and underwear
were both fifty percent off.

(originally published in Bopdeadcity)


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