When we were little, Mom had trouble keeping track of our names. Or something like that.
It didn’t matter which of us was in the room or which one of us was in trouble, she went through an entire array of names before just pointing and saying, “You.” By that time, we were all laughing at her and her anger had pretty much dissipated.
The animals in our house were part of that array of names. Usually there were only a couple of dogs, but gerbils, fish (lots of fish), cats … and even a goat when I was a baby, were part of the Greenwood menagerie. The goat story? Poor Mom had to make a choice between it and her baby. The goat was jealous and kept butting me down the back steps. Mom always said it was a difficult choice.
Another thing that Mom did was to play with words. The thing is, these odd words she created are still such a normal part of my vocabulary that I have trouble identifying most of them individually. Rabbits were bun-rabs and I still can’t see a rhino without mis-placing the emphasis. It was never a rhi-NO-cer-ous, but a rhi-no-SORE-ass. To this day, I see the word and every rhino in my imagination has bright, red hindquarters. A knife was a two syllable word – cuh-nife, as was most every other silent ‘k’ word. Unique was pronounced you-nee-cue.
Her standard vocabulary was immense. The woman was absolutely brilliant and a voracious reader and writer, so when she wanted to play around with words, it wasn’t that she didn’t know better, it was a choice she made.
Back to all of the animals in her world.
All of the warm-blooded (oops, cold-blooded fish too, I guess) beings around Mom were her naminals. Poor Dad couldn’t even escape that classification. And, by the way, his name got tossed in there along with every single named naminal when Mom was trying to identify the person standing in front of her.
So … I took the word she’d used for all of the beings she ever loved and made it mine. Trust me, it has been perfect over the years. When you make up a word, it is easily accepted by the web as being unique (did you say that in your head correctly? you-nee-cue).
And what better reference could a girl have than to all of the nammynools that have been part of her life since she was just a little girl. Am I right?