POEM: Dad’s Strange Lexicon

My father had a strange lexicon.

In second grade, we were playing a word-guessing game like the game show Password (if it were in a classroom of spastic 2nd graders.)

The word was: “BARN.”

I offered the clue: “HAYMOW.”

You can imagine the puzzlement in a classroom of mostly “city” kids raised on Richard Scarry vocabularies. I almost got beat up when my team — the losing team — decrypted my clue into “hayloft,” a clue that would’ve easily won the game.

Our house had a DOG-TROT. I know it was toward the middle of the house, but have no idea what its defining characteristic might have been. I do know that I never saw a single dog trot through the middle of our house because of the policy of “Outside for Animals – Inside for Humans” that reined in our household, except when a wily field mouse snuck in through the basement or a wood duck — distinctly lacking wiles — snuck its way down the chimney and into the wood stove.

I was told, with great conviction, that a “HAN-YAK” was second cousin to a “POT-LICKER.” As a child, I missed that these were terms of derision, and — I fear — I may have hung a slander upon my cousins by licking some marinara off the lip of a piece of cookware once upon a time.

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