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Nervous Eagles fans need Bagpipes cure for the heebie-jeebies…

My youngest sister says she’s too “scared” to watch the first half of the Super Bowl. She is traumatized by previous Super Bowl performances by the Eagles in 1981 and 2005 when they came out flat and stiff.

First off, I told her, in the words of our GK, “If you’re scared, get a dog.”

Secondly, I advised her to relax. This big game feels different. Our guys look loosey-goosey and comfortable. On paper the matchups are in our favor, with the possible exception of that big likeable goofy goon named Gronk.

But then the news trickled in that a bunch of our guys are down with the flu bug. What if that thing spreads to the entire team?

Now I’ve got the heebie-jeebies.

I am not worried about Nick Foles. I just found out he is a man of God. He announced this week that his post-NFL career ambition is to become an ordained Christian pastor. How cool is that?

In other words, we go to battle behind our very own Sky Pilot at the helm.

Advantage us!!

But back to the heebie-jeebies….

Acting all loose and nonchalant in the days leading up to the big game is all well and good…But the actual moment of SB52 gameday when they play the national anthem prior to kickoff is when the lump starts forming in a player’s throat.

That’s when the heebie-jeebies become a factor.

What’s the meaning of the phrase ‘Heebie-jeebies’?

A feeling of anxiety, apprehension or illness.

What’s the origin of the phrase ‘Heebie-jeebies’?

The sound of this term seems to hark back to earlier rhyming phrases, like hocus-pocus and mumbo-jumbo, with a touch of the jitters thrown in. The meaning is more like the British term – the screaming habdabs.

Heebie and jeebie don’t mean anything as independent words and heebie jeebies was coined at a time and place when there was a spate of new nonsense rhyming pairs, called rhyming reduplications, – the bee’s knees, etc., that is, 1920s USA.

Billy de BeckThe term is widely attributed to William Morgan “Billy” de Beck. The first citation of it in print is certainly in a 1923 cartoon of his, in the 26th October edition of the New York American:

“You dumb ox – why don’t you get that stupid look offa your pan – you gimme the heeby jeebys!”

Heebie jeebies caught on quickly and very soon began appearing in many newspapers and works of literature in the USA and, from 1927 onward, the UK; for example, here’s an entry from the Van Nuys News, 6th November 1923, just a few days after de Beck’s cartoon was published:

“Bill Alton showed up poorly in center field. The boys seemed to have the heebie jeebies.”

The lack of any explanation in either of the above citations seems to imply that the term would have been known to the readership of both publications by the time of printing.

The speed of take-up of heebie jeebies, in a similar way to another coinage that is attributed to de Beck – horse feathersheebie jeebiesdoes suggest an origin in the media rather than street slang, which tends to spread more slowly.

The term became part of the language quickly enough for it to begin appearing in advertisements from 1924 onwards, as in this illustration from the Mexia Daily News, October 1924, in an advert for a cold cure.

The point I’m trying to make to my fellow Eagles fans (including my youngest sister) is don’t fight your inner anxiety over the outcome of this Super Bowl matchup—but embrace it instead. If you need inspiration to help you through the anxiety, take courage from the example of our British cousins who are the embodiment of the “stiff upper lip” approach to overwhelming conflict.

More specifically, get a tape or CD of battlefield Bagpipes a’playin’. Play that thing over and over again.

We got this.

 

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