a.k.a Stone Churches, Rock Fish and Poochies: Living with Franklie Speaking
So not all that long ago, I was little. I lived with my parents. My mother (The Ladie) and my father, who has had many names. Frenchy, Frankly, Frankly Speaking, The Goat, and as I call him… Pops.
I’m going to start with the storie of Frankly Speaking because it explains a lot about my dad. When I was small, but old enough to answer the phone, people would call and ask for Frankly. At the time this is what my family called my dad, and I would dutifully run off to find him. He would pick up the phone and announce, “Frankly Speaking!” And people would laugh. I was just about old enough to understand why this was funny at the time, but not old enough to know that it was a pun. (or what I believe a pun to be)
The important part of the story though is what happened then. Eventually people would call, no longer asking for Frankly, but for Frankly Speaking. The importance here is what my dad does to the language. There are words I know, such as yooks (which means to pull) and dammit (which, while still being a swear word also means “a thing”), and some nonsense rhymes (six and three it’s up to me and six and two it’s up to you), that are not found in the common language. My father makes words, and while lots of people do this, he makes words that people use.
People pick up his language and use it and think nothing of it. So…
The road maintenance workers use them to store sand and salt for the winter. To my dad they were Stone Churches. Now he never really specified what exactly stone churches believed, but he always pointed them out. Stone Church! It was a game and they always looked the same, with a vaguely church like feel. And soon I could point out a Stone Churches with the best of them. I won’t tell you how old I was when I found out that these were not, in fact, churches, but it was pretty old.
I actually caught on to this one pretty quickly. At the beach… Sea Isle City from the time I was old enough to walk… and very probably before then, My parents and I would walk down the beach along the water and my dad would find a piece of asphalt in the water (they’re very common there) and he would reach down and scoop it up and show it to me… “Rock Fish!” he would announce. And I bought it, hook line and fishing metaphor. The thing is that even though I caught on pretty quickly… I was probably ten when I realized that Rock Fish were not strictly speaking fish, nor were they alive… I still walk down the beach and see pieces of asphalt in the water and still think, Rock Fish! And if you are walking next to me I will likely point it out to you.
Poochies. This was the most difficult one for me. I did not find out until freshman year of college that this is not a word. Or at least not a word used to describe bedroom slippers which was how I had been using is my whole life, and for that matter, how I still use it. Everyone in my family calls slippers poochies. My mom, my dad, my mom mom, my aunts and uncles… all of them. And so off I went to college… I don’t really remember how it came up. I likely asked my roomate if she had seen my poochies. I was always losing things.
“Yeah, have you seen them?”
“What are poochies?”
You know, poochies. Slippers.”
But she didn’t. No one in her whole existence had ever called anything except possibly an adorable dog a poochie.
There are things we get wrong. Now, today, I know I got those things wrong, but they are still words I use, still things I do. The only thing that’s changed is the knowledge of their wrongness. I think it’s important to occasionallie get things wrong. Maybe even to keep the wrongness.
I do someday fully intend to tell my children about stone churches.