Answer by Justin Franco:
My wife and I use the word poodle as a sort of safe word when we’re discussing issues that might force one of us to lie just to make the other happy (we stole it from a Chuck Palahniuk novel). It’s a standalone question, “Poodle?” Or a confident statement, “Poodle.” Basically, it means I’m being completely truthful.
For example, my wife might want me to accompany her to a dance costume expo in Atlanta on a Saturday morning. She really wants company because her dance teacher friend had to cancel at the last minute, so she asks me. I reluctantly agree.
She asks, “Are you sure you’re ok going to this dance costume expo?”
I answer, “Yes.”
She replies with, “Poodle?”
Ugh. If I reply with “Poodle,” it means I’m being completely truthful about wanting to go, but I’m not really, so it forces me to admit that I’d really just rather lie around in my jammies playing videogames.
When one person invokes poodle, you’re not allowed to lie in response. It’s a staunch rule. That means it also has to be used sparingly.
We have never explained this rule or our reasoning for the word poodle to our three-year-old daughter, and yet one evening as we’re cuddling on the couch, I squeeze my daughter and say, “I love you.”
She looks lovingly up at me and asks, “Poodle?”