It means, well, mentally slow. It’s one of those words you don’t get too many opportunities to say, so it was hard to define. Does it mean retarded? No, not exactly, the teacher said, more like if you tell someone to go this way (he gestured with his left hand) and they go right, instead.

Wait a minute there, I do that. Am I egare?

The teacher, pwofese, he’s called, backtracked quickly. No, bad example. Now he tried to come up with one that meant not really retarded but not common enough that he had to worry about another one of us being that way. The class is Haitian Creole — Kreyol Ayiseyen. It is a great language — not written until relatively recently, but good enough to allow slaves to confer, kick the French out and establish the first nation founded by African descendants in this hemisphere. Koupe tet, boule kay — cut off the heads, burn down the houses — was the great and righteous phrase that united them in that endeavor.

But now Egare — hard to define. Like Rick Perry? I finally asked, in memory of the now historical tea party hero who couldn’t count to three. The pwofese looked uncomfortable, because politics are uncomfortable. He nodded briefly and moved on. Leaving me happy to know a word with few, but specific occassions to use.


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