My father, Winston, or Wince, as he was most often called, was a short stout man, hardened by many years as a plumber and electrician. Because of his work activity he had a powerful grip that he was very proud of. He often wrestled with my brothers and I, playfully, and if we ever allowed him to grab a hand or a fleshy part of our body in that vice of his, all was lost. In every wrestling match, without fail he always threatened us that he was about to “put the hypodermic” on us. None of us ever understood what the hypodermic was, but we all knew that whatever it was, it must be really horrible. The “hypodermic” was his trademark threat.
In our young years, before my brothers and I grew larger than he and before he allowed drink to ravage his body we were no match for his strength. Even after he became frail and crippled by alcohol induced strokes, he continued to believe that he still had the vice grip hands, and he was quick to challenge us, always flavoring the encounter with “If you mess with me, you are going to get the “hypodermic.” We humored him and begged him to hold back the ‘hypodermic’.
The enjoyment of the memory of his trademark is eternal for my brothers and our sister as well. In these many years after he left us we rarely meet without one of us threatening the other with the dreaded “hypodermic”, and to this day, none of us has any idea what the hypodermic was supposed to be.