Sunday, February 19, 2012


I guess this only happens to athletes whose performance over a certain span of games becomes unbelievable.

They somehow become revered as a part of speech.

Two examples, given to us almost back-to-back, come quickly to mind. Denver quarterback Tim Tebow brought us some serious genuflection with "Tebowing" after he carried the Broncos into the playoffs following a stretch of incredible and unlikely last minute finishes for an average team.

Now we have "Linning," brought to us by Jeremy Lin, a journeyman point guard for the New York Knicks, who suddenly elevated his game when he was quickly inserted into the lineup when two other regulars could not play. The woeful Knicks recently went on a 7-game winning streak with him showing the way.

I'm not sure what I have to do to become a part of speech, or why this phenomenon appears to apply only to athletes.

I'm pretty sure my last name doesn't lend itself to being a catchy verb phrase or to general gerund usage. Wehrle (pronounced 'Whirly') doesn't roll off the tongue with any particular flourish or symmetry. I have told people, on occasion, that they've been "Whirlied" after I've written stories about them for The Dispatch, but in truth being Whirlied sounds kind of offensive and maybe a little too personal in an unappropriate way, so forget that.

A lot of people seem to think they've reached a critical level of originality when they call me "Whirlybird," like I'm a helicopter or something. I've heard that one a million times over the past 61 years and don't think twice about it anymore. I just politely smile as though I'm hearing Whirlybird for the first time and move on when somebody calls me that. Sometimes I run.

Back in my youth, I was called "Little Squirrel" by a grown neighbor back in Pennsylvania. That's because dad, who was his good friend, was Squirrel, which I think was a contraction of Squirrely, which, of course, rhymes with Wehrle. I always liked being called Little Squirrel and I think I still would. But the nickname was lost when we moved away to New Hampshire. I couldn't introduce myself to new friends as Little Squirrel — it's unconstitutional to give yourself a nickname. "Hi, I'm Bruce. But you can call me Little Squirrel." That just doesn't fly.

We do have a Wehrle-bird at our house, though.

This sparrow has been Wehrle-birding it at our house for several months.
There's a sparrow that has taken cover in a corner of our front porch for the winter. He nestles into the crook on top of the pillar, seeking protection from the windy nights, and he has done this without fail, for nearly three months. I guess we are his winter home.

Which I guess means if we take in strays or otherwise offer others solace and protection from the elements, we are Wehrle-birding. Who knew?

Yeah, OK. Wehrle-birding. I can live with that. I wonder what Squirrel would say?

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