Words To Bring Back, Special Edition: “Wheeler”

John Wheeler, c. 2018

Fig. 1

SOMETIMES, WE ATTAIN IMMORTALITY BY becoming part of the language: e.g., “boycott,” “pasteurize,” “guillotine.” And to these noble eponyms I would like to append … “wheeler.”

– Definition: v. To unconsciously, persistently and innocently pocket other people’s stuff.

– Used in a sentence: “Who wheeler’d my lighter / pencil / granola bar?”

– Why: Anyone familiar with the force-of-nature known as John Wheeler knew that he could sometimes be terribly absent-minded. If you handed him anything small for any reason, eventually into his pocket it would go. He didn’t do it maliciously or a-purpose, and he couldn’t help himself, which is why nobody ever held it against him or became even mildly ticked off at him. Actually, it was sort of endearing; John was something of an Unofficial Guardian, and if anything of yours turned up missing while in John’s vicinity, you could rest assured that he was holding on to it. When John turned out his pockets it was like emptying the TARDIS, or a bag-of-holding, or Baba Yaga’s hut. On the other hand, he was always good and honorable at returning the change from a proxy purchase (e.g., sending him to the beer store). So it all balanced out.

4 comments for “Words To Bring Back, Special Edition: “Wheeler”

  1. 2018.11.14 at 1128

    Last night marked the official public performance of my elegy “John Wheeler Goes Bar Hopping in the Afterlife.” When striving to capture his essence (or at least one perspective of it) in a short song, many wonderful details like the wheelering phenomenon had to be left out. I applaud your efforts to amend the vernacular in memory of our late friend.

  2. Tom Cullen
    2020.06.21 at 2127

    I believe John’s spirit animal was a raccoon. He spoke highly of thier fastidious nature, and emulated thier behavior by absentmindedly pocketing shiny items. Every time I visited, he would open a drawer in his dresser that he emptied his pockets into every evening – and tell all those visiting to look through the drawer to reclaim what might be theirs. There were always well over 100 lighters, a collection of pipes, pins, patches, trinkets, and shared mmementos.The term “wheeler” or “to wheeler something” means raccoon-like behavior by absentmindedly pocketing personal items, collecting them in a cache, and later an offer to re-collect said items.

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