What Does That Mean? Essay
“It’s just the name of our house,” I said.
"Your house has a name?" Nina asked. “I thought people only put names on their boats.”
I didn’t want to continue the conversation and let on to Nina that to me, the house was a ship. My whole family spoke of it that way. I didn’t want her to know that thinking that helped me when I was afraid.
New to Wellfleet, Nina was an army brat and my kindergarten classmate. She hung out with me some days while her mom worked as a cleaning lady for our next-door neighbors. The two of us must have been an odd sight for townsfolk, this new colored girl and her blue-eyed, freckle-faced friend.
There were other things Nina didn 't understand about our town. One time, when the church bell rang at noon, she asked why.
"Because it 's twelve o 'clock," I said.
"But it didn 't ring that many times."
"Eight bells means twelve o 'clock.”
Nina gave me her don 't-mess-with-me look.
"That 's what my mom told me. 'When the bell strikes eight, come home for lunch."
"That 's crazy," Nina said. "How many times does it ring at one o 'clock?"
"That 's two bells,” I said, adding “and so is five o’clock.”
"Don 't blame me," I said. "It 's sailor stuff. I don 't get it either."
Though I didn 't know why eight equaled twelve in Wellfleet, some of the town 's more mysterious qualities now made sense to me. For instance, I knew why the former sea captain and previous…