Man, this book is hard to excerpt:
Yet my father had more refined dreams. Like most athletes he lived amidst the large deeds and ephemeral glories of the past, recalling a time when it must have seemed to him he had been more Elevated, and this continual and melancholy look into the past had drawn his brows together into a knot, giving him a look of unmistakable hostility. Moreover, in an attempt to more vividly re-create that past, my father drank–I was about to say too much, which would not be entirely accurate. My father could not, or so my mother recalls, drink even the most limited amounts of beer without becoming moody, argumentative, and even violent; and on one occasion he beat a man so badly that the man had to have pulled what few teeth my father left him.
The man himself told me the story many years after my father’s death. He was drunk and he bore my father no grudge. He implied that it had been his own fault. He said, “I wanna see your ol’ man was tough as said”; here he smiled the remorseful, tolerant smile with which one views youth’s intemperance. “He was,” he said.