Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated

I once started a blog entry a few months ago by saying that I died. I thought I was partaking in some literary fantasy about layoffs in Heaven.

But, as it turns out, Bruce Wehrle did die (see here).

Man, that's weird to see "Bruce Wehrle Obituary." It's especially weird to see that when you're me.

There's any number of directions I can go on this.

But I'll take this route:

The surname "Wehrle" is very unusual. I think I read somewhere that there are only several thousand families worldwide with the surname "Wehrle." It's not a common name. It's not even common in Germany, where the Wehrles first propagated, if not actually flourished (apparently). Now couple that with the first name "Bruce" and it really gets bizarre.

Given all that, this is where I point out that actually there are (or were) two Bruce Wehrles in North Carolina. Imagine that. Who knew?

The irony here is that I actually did meet the now spiritual Bruce Wehrle one time. If he's the same fellow I'm thinking about, it went something like this: About 20 years ago, Kim and I went to the Auto Fair at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, looking for some hub caps for our classic Wimbledon White 1966 Mustang convertible.

We were walking around the speedway looking at some of the classic cars there when we came across a white 1966 Mustang convertible that looked remarkably like ours. On a placard on the windshield was the owner's name: "Bruce Wehrle."

I was momentarily confused. My Mustang was back in Lexington. How did it get here? No, wait. This wasn't my car, but it was my name. No, wait. It couldn't be me, but here I was.

There was a guy standing behind the car.

"Are you Bruce Wehrle?" I asked, pronouncing the last name the correct way: Whirly.

"Yes, I am."

"Here, let me show you something." I pulled my wallet out of my pocket and showed him the name on my driver's license.

He was aghast. As far as either of us knew, this completely random meeting of Bruce Wehrles could have started a catastrophic collision of parallel universes. We might have come this close to sending our quadrant of deep space spiraling into a black hole.

We talked for a little bit and I found out he lived in Raleigh. He was slightly older than me. We promised to stay in touch as we left each other, amazed at this unlikely coincidence, if coincidences are indeed unlikely.

But we never did stay in touch.

The other day a friend googled my name in an effort to find my blog. He found Bruce Wehrle's obituary instead and he showed it to me. I was truly saddened to see this. A person I had met and who's company I enjoyed was gone.

And I swear to you, I feel like a part of me has died.

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