27. Zoscha-Speak

Dear Boomer,

            Sometimes it is hard to tell whether humanoids truly understand what you tell them. This is true with body language.  It’s even more true with monthly columns in a community newspaper.

            This was brought home to me last week when Alpha was talking to Winnie’s alpha.  My Alpha understands Winnie’s body language, alright.  When the little dog barks and snaps at his ankles, it is a communication that is hard to misinterpret.  But meanwhile, Winnie’s alpha was asking my Alpha some questions about last month’s article, and I realized that many humanoids do not understand our world – or at least the way that I describe it.

            In the interest of inter-species communication, here is a glossary of Zoscha-speak:[1]

Humanoids: A particularly obtuse species of the animal kingdom.  They are, however, blessed with hands capable of opening dog food bags and throwing tennis balls. [2]

Pack: A cohesive unit of humanoids and dogs, characterized by a rigid social hierarchy.

Alphas: The lead member in any pack, responsible for ensuring we get fed.  They also mete out justice and dictate the pack’s sleeping arrangements.

My Alpha: In our pack, the humanoid who relegates me to the cushion under the desk, while he sleeps in the big bed with the flannel sheets; and to the floor in front of the fire while he lounges on the sofa.  He gets annoyed to find I’ve explored how the other half lives.

Lumps: Humanoid offspring so young that they have not yet acquired the dexterity to throw a tennis ball.  As such, they are rather useless creatures.  One of the greatest of life’s injustices is the way that, in the hierarchy of humanoid packs, Lumps automatically assume a preferred position to faithful and long-serving dogs.

Pups: Humanoid offspring old enough to throw a tennis ball.  They are more useful in this state, but their value to the pack is diminished by their tendency to want to ride you like a horse.[3]

The Pup: My Alpha’s other constant companion.  Sometimes at Windsor Park we conspire to divert his attention.  The Pup will insist that Alpha push him on the swing; that leaves me free to explore the swamp on my own.  Alternatively, I do my business as far away from the play structure as sight-lines allow.  That way, when Alpha comes over to clean up, the Pup has several minutes to try out gymnastic tricks on the high bar that Alpha would otherwise prohibit.

Pup Kennels: Buildings with fenced-in yards where, on most days, adult humanoids deposit their pups.  This leaves the adults free to concentrate on throwing balls in Windsor Park.  There were two kennels in our neighbourhood – St. Margaret Mary’s and Hopewell. St. Margaret Mary’s was smaller, quieter, and had better sight-lines for Alpha-watching, but the humanoids decided that it was altogether too dog-friendly and they have closed it down. [4]  

The Noisy Box: A contraption in the corner of the living room that can absorb a humanoid’s attention for hours at a time.  Rather like a squirrel, only it doesn’t move and can’t be chased.[5]

The Giant Drinking Dish: A big cement pond behind the play structures at Windsor Park.  On hot summer days, the humanoids thoughtfully fill it with fresh water; then they don’t let dogs near it to drink, but they let their pups splash in it.  They’re a peculiar species, humanoids.[6]

Boomer: Some humanoids think I’m addressing my letters to a generation.  They’re so species-absorbed.  Of course “Boomer” doesn’t refer to humanoids of a certain age.  It means you – my beagle buddy!  You, who have your own take on life, with your companion Jasper.[7]  As always, I’m looking forward to having a good prance together the next time we meet in Windsor Park.

                                                                        Hoping all this will help them understand,


[1] This is one of several attempts Zoscha made to provide a lexicon of her vocabulary.  See “Vocabulary for Snow,” The Windsor Chronicles, Part 48, December 2004.

[2] Much academic speculation has centred around why Zoscha used the term “humanoids” rather than simply “humans.”  For a review of the current literature, see “Species from Another Planet,” Janet Carruthers, Carleton University Review, December 2010.

[3] Zoscha first explored the process of maturing from lumps to pups in her inaugural column, “Into the White World,” The Windsor Chronicles, Part 1, February 2000.

[4] These are the names of the two elementary schools in the area at that time.  Hopewell Avenue Public School remains today.  St. Margaret Mary’s Catholic School was bulldozed to make way for condominiums.

[5] For the packs, television viewing habits, see “The Magic Box,” Windsor Chronicles, Part 22, April 2002.

[6] See “Giant Doggie Dish,” The Windsor Chronicles, Part 25, August 2002.

[7] Nathalie Nowlan, “The Windsor World of Yesteryear,” Descant Monthly, Spring, 2008, surmises that Boomer and her companion Jasper may have lived somewhere near Riverdale and Fentiman avenues.