Detroit, Michigan

My father was a welder, not a wordsmith, but he had a talent for unusual names, and had I been a boy, he would have called me Nimrod, after the legendary Old Testament hunter. As it was, he named our beagle puppy Excalibur and tried to make the name fit, although Excalibur looked and acted more like a cuddly plush toy version of Snoopy than the sword Arthur pulled from the stone. My father tried to train his three children, and his dog, to be fierce, fearless, and useful. Excalibur was never allowed indoors, and even during Michigan blizzards, he remained tucked in his doghouse in our small city yard. To toughen up his kids, my father shooed us outside too, whatever the weather. I used to imagine that if he’d named me Nimrod, he might have taken me on his last trip with Pat and Excalibur. I might have been with them hunting, instead of waiting for them to return home.

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