Wanna know why it’s so much fun to hang out with me? Nope, it’s not because I used to be able to cook a mean pierogie, or keep my eyes focused at all times in a gym locker room or even solve a rubiks cube. (All of which are TRUE by the way)

No, what makes me so cool is that every once in a while, if you’re really lucky, you’ll witness something crazy and unpredictable from me. Like the time I single handedly tried to stop a car from hitting my house as it rolled down the hill in neutral. It was the irristiable force and I was the immovable object. At least that’s what I thought. Ok, the car won….that time. I still have the battle scar to prove it.

But the real case in point is this: a few summer’s ago my niece had just moved in to a new apartment. It was in one of those cozy half-double houses. You know the ones I mean, where the upstairs part is one apartment and the downstairs another. The tenants then mutually share this tiny fenced in back yard.

Well, it was her son’s third birthday party and I was invited over. Having never been to this new place I was curious to see what it was like.

I parked out front and was immediately called by my niece into the back yard where the festivities were being set up. “Nice place” I thought to myself as I strolled past the front porch and into the backyard. I had lived in a place similar to this years ago and this seemed like a good first apartment.

After entering the small yard and greeting the aforementioned niece and birthday boy I asked where my brother was. “He’s inside”, I was told as I made my way towards the door.

As I’m sure you must know, with a last name of Wood it is only natural that at some point in your life someone would have given you the nickname “Woody”. Sure, there are lots of Woody’s that have held this title over the years but at this point in time, that honor now fell upon my brother, Louis. So as I strolled through the back door into the kitchen looking for “Woody”, I thought of just what I would say to greet my brother “Woody” when I met him this time.

You have to understand, in addition to the nickname, there are also certain, uh, shall we say, “customs” that come with being a member of the Wood family. Ones that can fill volumes of books in a library. But there’s only one that’s a rite of passage. One that keeps most of us out of jail. It’s the vernacular we use with each other. It’s our own form of “jive”. Similar to the ways insects communicate with each other through their antenna or birds chirp in certain patterns to send messages, we “Woods” have our own form of communication. Particularly Woods from the South Side of Easton. Go figure.

Over the years we’ve developed our primitive language too. We’ve grown away from pronouncing consonants as they should, dropping two letter words from sentences and using simple phrases like “How are you doing?”.  Instead, when greeting each other, we prefer to use the more dramatic “WASSSUP?” with the emphasis being on dragging the “UP” part of the word out for as long as possible. So, “Wassup?” now becomes “WASSSSSUUUUUUUP?”….It was more than just salutation, it was brotherhood. And in this case, in the literal sense as well.

So as I’m walking into the kitchen I see this younger girl and another person walking out towards me. Obviously, these were friends of my niece and as friends I figured they would surely know where Woody was at. Everyone knows Woody! So, using all the power from years of experience in speaking “Woodese”,  I asked them point-blank in the common tongue:


They looked at me kind of puzzled in silence… Were they shocked at my skill level? Perhaps. So I said it again: “YO YO YO – WHERE BE WOODY”?

Again no reply. Hesitation…..awkwardness. Until finally, one of them spoke up. This time in English:

“Uhm, I think you have the wrong apartment”.

So, I am standing there in the middle of this stranger’s kitchen. Now knowing that my niece’s apartment was actually UPSTAIRS and having just violated the number one rule of Wood Club….”NEVER TALK LIKE WOOD CLUB OUTSIDE OF WOOD CLUB”.

The sweat began to bead down my brow and I knew I had to do something fast to make amends of the situation. So I said what any self-respecting individual would say:

“Oh, I’m so sorry” and then quietly did the walk of shame back into the yard.

Everyone got a big laugh out of it. My niece and the real Woody were in tears about it. Even my Mom came over laughing hysterically and said, “You know, this one ranks right up there with that pierogie episode”…

Thanks Mom.

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