Robinhood’s Barn

To get somewhere by “going ’round Robinhood’s Barn” was a favorite saying of the Cap’n and his family. If I wanted to take the scenic route somewhere rather than the direct route, The Cap’n told me that I was going ’round said barn to get there.
It wasn’t just in terms of directions to or from places that this expression got used. Taking too many steps to do something would also earn you the saying – delivered in a lecturing tone. I like to do my research, gather my materials, and plan my work. So sometimes, it was confirmed that between inspiration and execution, there were several weeks. It’s still true – there are at least six projects in the shop that I work at fitfully. To me, it’s just wisdom to be prepared, but to the Cap’n, it was procrastination.
Periodically, I’d be annoying and ask the Cap’n for directions to the proverbial barn. He’d merely stand there, Stuff his pipe, light it, puff puff, point the stem at me, and remind me that standing around talking was not getting the job done. It went on like this throughout the years I knew him; the interplay between us about the barn and its location became a set piece in our discussions. Family members would roll their eyes when we got started.
The Cap’n was famous for running down a bargain when looking for replacement hardware for his boat Psyche. We’d chase around every marine supply store in the area before winding up at his favorite salvage marine outlet. Of course, I accused him of going ’round Robinhood’s Barn to get where he knew he was going anyway. He’d waste so much gas and time that it was hardly practical in terms of cost. One day I went into the shop and hurriedly made a crude sign with “Robinhood’s Barn” and a large arrow carved on it. Placing it in the back of the car before one wild expedition for used fittings, I waited until he went into the his favorite salvage store. Taking the sign and the stake I had put it on to the driveway, I pushed it into the ground.
I stood by the car, waiting for him to come out with a Cheshire cat grin on my face. When he came out, I enjoyed watching the double-take expression on seeing the sign. Showing the practiced abilities of an old Master Mariner, he smiled at me and said, “well, there you are, Wes. You wanted to know where it was!”
I use the expression to this day and always have to explain what it means. But I still have no idea where Robinhood’s Barn was.

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