Wait For It… a blog by Andy Ross

Substitute Nickname

Posted on April 6, 2011


Alright, ha ha ha, kids. Very funny. Ha ha. Settle down, class. I can see we need to have "the talk."

I'm going to repeat what I said my first day substituting for Mrs. Arnott: My name is Mister Turlinger. Here, I'll write it on the board. T-U-R-L-I-N-G-E-R. It's pronounced just like it looks. “Turlinger.”

Now, some of you have figured out that I'll turn around in response to the name "Mr. Turdlicker." Which is not my name. Again, my name is Turlinger. I’ll admit it does sound a tiny bit like the words turd licker, meaning someone who licks... turds.

Settle down. Quiet, everybody.

Additionally, I realize those times when I do turn around after hearing the name Mr. Turdlicker, I tend to have a goofy, expectant smile on my face. Like I’m excited to hear the nickname. I can understand how that might be extra funny to you kids.

Well, there's a simple explanation for that:

You see, I grew up with an older, cooler cousin named Bobby, and he used to call me "Turdlicker." We had different last names. And, while I first thought of it as an insult, one day Bobby defended me from a group of older bullies---the O’Meary Brothers. He fought off three of them at once and split Ryan O’Meary’s lip wide open. That’s when I realized Turdlicker was a term of brotherly affection.

So, when I hear the name Turdlicker and turn around to face the class, some part of me expects to see my cousin Bobby. But…

… Then do you notice how my expectant smile falls into a look of distant sadness? Like something in my heart grows heavy at remembering the name Mr. Turdlicker? [sigh]

When I was twelve and Bobby was sixteen, we were swimming in an old quarry out past the lumberyard. And, um… Bobby calls out, “HEY, TURDLICKER!” And, I turn around and see that Bobby has climbed this high outcropping on the southern edge of the quarry. “LOOK AT THIS!” he yells, and he lifts off in this cartoony, goofy imitation of a swan dive that is---in its very exaggeration---actually quite graceful.

I watch as he hangs for a moment in the air, and I feel this pang of jealously at his natural athleticism. Then Bobby’s face clouds as he spots something in the water below that I can’t see from where I am… And, then, everything happened so fast. Like I was looking out the window of a train as the world raced by...

I wasn’t a strong enough swimmer. If I could have gotten there just a couple of seconds sooner…

I could have just, um…

I, uh…

Alright, some of you kids are crying now, and I didn’t mean for that. Like I said before, we’re here to make Calculus fun! Right?!

So, here’s what we’re gonna do: Let’s come up with some different silly nicknames you guys can call me. That way, Mister Turdlicker isn’t so tempting. Sound good?

How about “Mister To Linger,” like maybe I linger too long on Calculus proofs? Or Mister Fur Finger? Mister Furry Finger. Or, how about Mister Hurlinger? Do kids still call vomiting hurling?

Can anybody else come up with a playful bastardization of Turlinger? Anybody…

[sigh] “Turtle Dicker.”

Yes, Scott, that is a valid nickname. I’ve actually heard that one before. And, I can see from the class’s reaction that Mister Turtle Dicker will probably be the one to take hold. Which is fine, I guess.

Alright! Settled, everybody? Let’s call a truce and unofficially agree that the class will go with Mister Turtle Dicker until Mrs. Arnott comes back from maternity leave.

Now, if we can, let’s gets back to linear operators and how they relate to derivative functions…