The titmouse, for those who live outside the eastern United States, is a small, delightful backyard bird with a beautiful song. Tell that to my parents when I was a kid.
Before I was a handsome, strapping high school football star whose mere presence made girls, and some guys, swoon, I was an overweight, oversized introvert who loved bird watching with my best friend, the tiniest kid in my elementary school. He was elfin! I was gargantuan! We were self-professed Bird Nerds. I point this out only to paint an accurately awkward picture of two painfully geeked-up kids who did nothing to improve their social standing in the third grade hierarchy. Bird watchers were somewhere on the strata of booger-eaters or the painfully proper-acting, pasty-white kid who moved here from England named Urine. (Actually, his name is Ewan but that was decades before McGregor made it cool.)
Ah, the titmouse, the beautiful songbird of my Southeastern summers and the focus of my Six. My diminutive fellow Bird Nerd and I kept a checklist of every bird we'd spot on our traipses through the woodlands, and the titmouse — the elusive, exotic, and taboo-named titmouse — was prized. When we trah-lah-lahed to my house, I declared, "Mom, we saw a titmouse!" She said, "We don't use that language in this house. Don't let your father hear that potty talk." No amount of pleading or thumping of field guides could convince my parents that the name "titmouse" was anything but gutter-talk, worthy of hiding, a painting of the butt red.
What's a Bird Nerd to do? My friend convinced me to sacrifice my avian conviction by secreting the beloved bird's name as timouse, pronounced "tih-muss." Yes, timouse spared me many a butt-whoopings, but the booger-eaters and even Ewan laughed at our encoded bird patois.
In hindsight, I should have taken the spankings.