The Man Raised by the Man Raised by Wolves Lucie Britsch

I used to be a werewolf but I’m alright nowooo

This joke is not appreciated in our household

Not just out of season but ever

Please don’t come to our house for dinner and tell it at the dinner table thinking it’s hilarious.

It’s not

Not in our house anyway but then our house is not normal. This just is frickin hilarious. I have laughed at it privately many times.

I had a girlfriend who told this joke at the dinner table but she wasn’t to know. I hadn’t told her about my father at that point.
But even then, even after she knew, she told it again, a second time, at another dinner, and when my father didn’t laugh she grabbed his arm and told him to lighten up.

I hadn’t known it was her favourite joke and that she almost felt compelled to tell it every time she sat to eat a formal meal, especially with new people,

like it was her ice breaker, her party piece, her nervous tick. She told it at a funeral once she tells me apologising.

I hadn’t told her about my father, she hadn’t told me about the joke problem, so we were even I guess.

And anyway kids were always howling at me and telling me that dumb joke, what did I care.

Because I was the kid raised by the man raised by wolves.

I couldn’t blame them.

Now I’m the man raised by the man raised by wolves and I’m ok with it. It’s my grandpa I feel sorry for though.

He’s the man who gave his son to the wolves to raise in the first place. Because that’s the shocker right there.

My father wasn’t orphaned or abandoned, left to die only to be saved by the wolves, raised as their own. No, he was given to them by my Grandpa.

They would have probably preferred some baked goods but being polite, because wolves are polite creatures, don’t believe that big bad thing, they thanked him and took the offering.

My father’s mother had died in childbirth. As is the way in these stories. And his father just didn’t think he could cope. So he threw his son to the wolves. They were just glad someone wasn’t throwing rocks at them. A human baby was quite a nice change.

They still would have preferred baked goods though. A nice muffin maybe. Even if it was thrown at their heads.

Only my Grandpa hadn’t counted on the wolves throwing the baby back.

Which they did.

Ok so it was years later but still. There came a time when those wolves had just had enough of my father, which if you know him, is understandable.

I salute them for not giving him back sooner. I once had to spend a whole afternoon with him on a boat and I seriously thought about throwing myself over board. But I didn’t because he’s been through enough in his life without having to be the man raised by wolves and the man raised by wolves whose son also drowned on a boating trip.

So they gave him back and my Grandpa then had to live with what he had done and the boy he had done it to.

My father was surprisingly forgiving because he had actually had a nice time in the woods with the wolves but my Grandpa was not so happy.

Most nights when my father was tucked up in a bed, my Grandpa would sit out on the front porch and curse those wolves, but mostly he would curse himself even though it already felt a done thing.

He was not suited to being a father.

He had stated this clearly in the note he left pinned to his child all those years ago which the wolves ate and never read. It wasn’t then that he thought the wolves could read but more that he needed to write it down, something cathartic in the all pain.

They could have at least told him what he likes to eat or what his favourite TV show was he thought when he cursed the wolves. He was clueless.

They were bastards to do this to him he thought.

So he vowed revenge.

Or at least to never support their cause.

If he ever saw anyone rallying around to save them for any reason, like outside the grocery store, where he often saw scruffy looking youths asking for signatures and donations to save some poor woodlands creature from extinction or hunters or Starbucks he would not give them a cent.

Not if it was for the wolves.

Squirrels maybe. He quite liked them. They would not have re gifted his child to him. Why hadn’t he thought of them first?

Damn those wolves.

He told me all this one night out on the porch and I have to admit I pretended to be on my phone because it was just weird.

My family were weird.

Not my dad, but the rest of them.

My dad was surprisingly unscathed by any of this. The death of his mother, the abandonment by his father, his life with the wolves, his life back with a man that didn’t want him, being passed up for a promotion, scraping his car in the grocery store carpark, his basketball team losing. None of it seemed to affect him.

Everything turned out OK then.

Not for me but for my Grandpa and my father.

My father readjusted amazingly quickly.

I mean you wouldn’t even know he was the boy raised by wolves, apart from the odd scratching now and then. Not odd as in occasional but odd as in weird. He doesn’t scratch like any human or animal I ever saw. Like he has no clue what he’s doing but there’s clearly some itch going on but no one taught him how to get at it correctly. Those wolves have a lot to answer for.

Maybe he’s destined to permanently have an itch he can’t scratch and that’s the only reminder that something happened to him.
Other than that he’s pretty well adjusted, more than a lot of people are from what I can gather.

He graduated from high school, met my mother, settled down, and had me. Boom. Nailed it. I don’t know what all those psychologists and therapists were worried about.

Yep, my father is pretty well adjusted and seems to show no signs of being effected by what happened to him.
Me on the other hand.

When I was little I used to think I saw a wolf at my window most nights.
Thinking they had come back to get my father only he was grown up now so the only boy left to take was me.

I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to go with them, if I wanted to go with them even. If I had a bad day it seemed like it might not be so bad but on a good day it scared me. Not the thought of being dragged off by wild animals or even the prospect of having to spend my important teenage years in a wood somewhere with no TV but more that I would only disappoint them. I was not my father.

I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel about the imaginary wold at my window. Maybe it was the trade off, I was the trade off, and I didn’t know who to ask. I thought about seeking out those charity fundraisers my Grandpa saw at the grocery store, the save the wolves ones, maybe they knew about wolf etiquette, but if I went to the grocery store I would probably just get a big gulp and sit on the kerb and make the most of my last few days as a normal teenager before the wolves came.

Because I didn’t know the correct etiquette and no one was telling me anything. My Grandpa stopped confiding in me when he started seeing a woman from the local diner. Sometimes I wanted to compare notes with her but she scared me a little. She was ancient and wore too much make up and called me doll.

So I kept a small bag packed under my bed just in case.

I had a reoccurring dream where a wolf dressed in a shawl and glasses, straight out of red riding hood, would come knocking and want to visit with her estranged son. What do you mean I’m not welcome? She yelled I baked fucking muffins! She said thrusting a basket of shop bought muffins at us.
A therapist later asked me why not just a lady wolf? I tell him there are no lady wolves’ only wolves in drag. The therapist wrote down that I might be gay. I was just glad it wasn’t “might be nuts”.

Thankfully for my father there have been many more cases since his to keep the media busy. It seemed every week some child was found living with some animals somewhere and it all began again.
It made my grandpa feel better.

Although no other parents ever come forward with their hands up, confessing they gifted their child to some animals.
“We thought they would do a better job!” The wife would say giving the racoons the stink eye. “He was always eating out of the bin. We thought it was a good fit!” she would yell as she was being led away by the cops.

I read once that a pack of dogs that had raised a boy but who was later found and now being brought up by a new family followed him till the authorities had to be called in because they were causing a nuisance. They were all put down. The boy only found out years later and was completely devastated.

People always want to know about my father.

They ask me really personal questions about his behaviour and habits.

Most are predictable. Is he hairy? Is he housetrained? Does he howl? Scratch? Can he use a knife and fork?
They are always disappointed when I tell them that my father is just a regular guy. That you would not know he was raised by wolves.
But he was they tell me.

I tell them I know.

I fucking know.

Usually the f bomb makes them go away at that point. They are never satisfied though.

When people see him in the supermarket and someone says that’s him, that’s the guy who was raised by wolves, people look disappointed, Oh, they say, I thought he would be hairier. I know, right, what a scam they say. My uncle Henry looks more like a wolf. Hey, hey you, howl or something they shout. My father must feel like Adam Sandler asked to do something funny on command. He just ignores them though. I bare my teeth a little. Just for effect. My father does not approve.

People never want to know about me.

I imagine this is what Angelina Jolie’s twin brother feels like, or Scarlet Johansson’s twin brother, or anyone’s twin brother if they aren’t anyone and they’re sibling is very much someone.

My mother understands because she is the wife of the man raised by wolves.

I once witnessed her shout at a lady in a parking lot who asked her a very personal question about her relationship with my father.

“He was raised by wolves, he is NOT a wolf!” she shouted.

I suggested we get t shirts clarifying that. She said there would be no point because my father would never agree to wear one. We could get them though I said; it could be our thing, for occasions like this. We needed something to be ours. She took me for ice-cream then, only I wasn’t to tell my father. I was fine with that. I didn’t want to tell him anything. He was ruining my life. He could never ruin hers because she had me. That only made me feel worse, like I owed it to her to be better somehow.

Later my therapist asked me what my father thought about all of this and I told him I didn’t think he even knew it was going on.

The bullying at school, my own resentment of him, and the questions my mum got asked about her sex life, the ice-cream, any of it.

He was in complete denial about the whole thing.

Since being rehabilitating successfully he had denounced all his connections with the wolf world.

I imagined if he did see the wolves again, say in a diner, he would hide behind his menu or excuse himself to go hide out in the bathroom. Like I did once when I saw a girl I kissed once at a party but I hadn’t really meant to or didn’t know how I felt about it so I just pretended it never happened and I didn’t know her. Only I wasn’t that cool so I mostly had to hide behind menus or in bathrooms if she was around. I wonder if that’s a learned behaviour now, from my dad. Denial can be passed down. I learnt that in History class, when we were learning about the Holocaust.
I was also the only kid who didn’t want a dog but was forced to have one.

My mother was always uncomfortable with the dog. The therapist wondered how the dog felt. I told him this was not about the dog raised by the man raised by the man raised by wolves and walked out.
Sometimes something has to be about me surely

After the lack of support from my therapist I gave up trying to fix myself and my family.

They didn’t need to be fixed anyway, it was just me.

We’re fine my mother would always say and they were.

Not once did I think about going out into those woods to confront those mother fuckers that did this because it wasn’t them that did this but my Grandpa and you know what little sense he made.

There were no answers to be had.

I wasn’t owed anything.

None of this happened to me but this all happened to me.

I married the werewolf joke girl and she kept telling the joke and my father never did lighten up and when we eventually had a child and my Grandpa told me I better god damn keep that child and raise it as my own despite how terrifying it all was and the wolves would only screw that child up in a different way so I may as well screw him up my own way and I turned out ok didn’t I?

I did I tell him. I did.