That red-headed little bugger from up Inverness.

That’s how the Scot describes the five-year-old terror from the western side of the island. His family just moved into the neighbourhood.

“Look at him down there – he’s going through that pile of old wood I put to the curb – there could be some nails in there.” He’s grumbling, heading toward the door.

The Acadian puts down the loaf of bread she’s cutting and places both hands on the countertop.

“Now, why in God’s name would you put a pile of wood to the curb without taking all the nails out – what’s wrong with your head?”

Although this is a question she’s asked many times throughout her life with the Scot, she’s never received a satisfactory answer.

I run to the open kitchen window to watch.

The Scot is halfway down the steps, arms waving, yelling at the small boy to drop the board he’s pulling from the pile.

“Put it down – there could be nails in that,” he hollers.

The boy looks up at this wild man on the steps.

“Pòg mo thòin,” he says. With a final tug, he frees the board from the pile and runs up the street with his prize.

The Scot stops dead in his tracks.

It takes a minute - maybe two – but when he turns around, his face is red. The Scot is roaring with laughter.

He comes inside, still chuckling.

“You won’t believe what the little bugger just said to me – he said Pòg mo thòin – and he said it with the right accent.” He’s still laughing.

“It’s been so long since I heard the old words, it took me a minute to realize.”

The Acadian was not impressed.

“Well, that’s not very nice – and you shouldn’t encourage him – what did you say to set him off?”

The Scot is wounded.

“I didn’t say anything to him – certainly not in Gaelic – I just told him to put the board down and I said it in English.”

Well, at this point, I need to know what Pòg mo thòin means.

“What did he say? What does it mean?”

The Acadian looks at me - scandalized.

“Never mind what he said – it’s not very nice and you don’t need to know.”

But I do need to know. I have a deep, overwhelming need to know.

Words that put that look on the Acadian’s face and make the Scot laugh that way – well, they had to be good, which means bad, which means I need to know.

“C’mon – tell me. What’s it mean?”

He cast a sideways look at the Acadian.

“It means kiss my ass.”


“Teach me how to say it – please.” I’m begging now.

I should say, at this point, there is nothing the Scot loves more than shocking the Acadian and he will take every opportunity to do so.

“Like this – puk ma hone.”

She brandishes her bread cutting knife.

“What a terrible thing to teach your child – you should be ashamed – your father used to speak Gaelic beautifully and I’ll bet he never used those words in his life,” she says.

The Scot is bent over laughing.

“Now, who do you think taught me?”

He throws his head back and roars with laughter and continues to do so as he walks up the stairs and closes his bedroom door. I can hear him chuckling behind the closed door.

Leaving the still-grumbling Acadian to her bread, I take my dog for a walk. Master the phrase before we get to the end of the block!

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