The 4x4 Lan­guage We Speak

Four Wheeler - - Firing Order - —KEN BRUBAKER KEN.BRUBAKER@FOURWHEELER.COM PHO­TOS: KEN BRUBAKER

Afew years ago, my wife’s em­ployer, a neu­ro­sur­geon, invited us to his home for a Christ­mas din­ner party. Also invited were a num­ber of lead­ing Illi­nois neu­ro­sur­geons. Dur­ing the ap­pe­tizer, the con­ver­sa­tion was light, hov­er­ing around the nasty Illi­nois win­ter and the agony of Christ­mas shop­ping. Dur­ing the en­trée is where things re­ally got in­ter­est­ing. The doc­tors launched into a ver­bal anal­y­sis of neu­ro­surgery stuff like a tem­po­ral cran­iotomy, evac­u­a­tion of epidu­ral hematoma, de­bride­ment of lac­er­ated brain, and lac­er­a­tion of the an­te­rior branch of the mid­dle meningeal artery. Every­one in the room knew ex­actly what all of this meant, ex­cept me.

About three quar­ters of the way through the anal­y­sis, my eyes had glazed over and my right eye was twitch­ing un­con­trol­lably. I was des­per­ately wish­ing I had a med­i­cal dic­tionary. I thought I was go­ing to have a brain aneurysm right there at the ta­ble. Couldn’t have hap­pened at a bet­ter place, I guess. And then the strangest thing hap­pened. Con­ver­sa­tion ceased, and one of the neu­ro­sur­geons turned his gaze my way and said, “In­ter­est­ing ve­hi­cle you have out there,” re­fer­ring to my mod­er­ately built Jeep Chero­kee XJ parked out­side. “What have you done to it?” An­other said, “It doesn’t look like any Chero­kee I’ve ever seen.” “Well,” I stam­mered, “it’s got a bored two and a half, re­built AX15, 4.10s, re-arched leaves, a pair of Detroits, and 4 inches with 33s.” When I fin­ished my brief, yet com­pre­hen­sive over­view, I looked around the ta­ble and noted that all of the peo­ple’s eyes had glazed over and their right eyes were twitch­ing.

To the av­er­age per­son, the av­er­age con­ver­sa­tion on the av­er­age trail ride sounds like we’re speak­ing Farsi. We tend to shorten our rig’s spec­i­fi­ca­tions into num­bers and con­densed phrases and then spew them out in one concise dec­la­ra­tion. For ex­am­ple, an ’01 Jeep Wran­gler with a rollcage, 4.0L en­gine, four-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, 4:1 trans­fer case, Dana 44 rear axle with locker, Dana 44 front axle with locker, 4.10:1 ring-and-pin­ion, 6-inch long-arm sus­pen­sion lift, and 35x10.50r15 tires can be suc­cinctly para­phrased by a wheeler to re­quire much less time and oxy­gen. The re­sul­tant de­scrip­tion can be eas­ily summed up by say­ing, oh-one TJ, caged, four-oh, auto, four-to-one, locked forty-fours with four-tens, and a long-arm 6-inch with thirty-fives. When re­fer­ring to trails, our wheeling lingo is also dif­fer­ent than that spo­ken by non-wheel­ers. Not nec­es­sar­ily short­ened like how we de­scribe our rigs, in­stead it’s just 180 de­grees op­po­site. For in­stance, a non-wheeler looks at a boul­der and says, “Look at that boul­der block­ing the trail. Not go­ing that way.” We say, “Look at that awe­some ob­sta­cle con­ve­niently placed in the mid­dle of the trail.” A non-wheeler sees a gi­ant mud­hole in the mid­dle of the trail and says, “That mud’s too deep, we have to go around.” We say, “Watch this.”

The bot­tom line is that ev­ery line of work or hobby has its own unique lan­guage, and some of them con­tain pretty im­pres­sive ver­biage. But hey, us wheel­ers have it go­ing on too. So the next time your neigh­bor, the Plasma Fu­sion Cen­ter Physi­cist En­gi­neer of Molec­u­lar Di­ag­nos­tics in charge of Bio­an­a­lyt­i­cal Com­pu­ta­tional Chem­istry, tries to im­press you with some of his jar­gon, fire back with an on­slaught of wicked wheelin’ lingo.

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