When I was a boy I told people that my father was stronger than anyone else in the world.
He was a handsome man. He sported a swooping curl above the middle of his forehead. He sought my soul with soft brown eyes. When he cut wood to build furniture, the sawdust clung to his forearms. And when he picked me up, it scratched my face with a masculine affection. It filled my nostrils with a woody scent that ever since has reminded me of a small boy's comfort and his father's steadfast love.
We lived on the near north side of Chicago. I would take a stand on our front porch and yell, "My daddy's arms are as strong as trucks! He's the strongest man in the world!"
My mother came out and said, "Are you trying to start a fight with someone?"
I said, "No."
She asked, "Then what do you mean by shouting?"
I said, "Robbers better beware. A strong man lives in this house."
"Well," she said, "Wally better beware. Big words want big deeds, you know."
When she'd gone back inside, I yelled louder, "My daddy is the strongest man in the world. Big words want big deeds, you know!"
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