My dad’s name is Charles Schulz; yeah, just like the Peanuts guy. When his name would come up in conversation, I used to tease people that he was the Charles Schulz. It was a joke always revealed within a minute or two, until the day I said it on first meeting my father-in-law. As it turns out, he actually worked with the man for many years and thought it an uncanny coincidence. Needless to say, as often happens with Dad, my joke didn’t get over as well that day and I lost my mischievous enthusiasm to use it again soon thereafter.
Dad did it too at least once that I can remember. In fact, the memory may be where I got the idea to do it myself. We were stopped for gas on a family vacation and, on seeing the name on his driver’s license, Dad replied to the curious attendant’s question by saying yes, he was in fact the man behind Snoopy. Unlike me, Dad didn’t bother revealing the gag in the end and he seemed to have a playful and unfamiliar smirk on his face when he returned to the car as well. Dad? Devious? I suspect that the attendant had to wonder though what the Mr. Schulz was doing with his wife and three kids, driving an old car in the middle of nowhere.
On first impression one could easily assume that the similarity between my dad and the Peanuts creator ends with the name. Let’s just say Charlie is not known or remembered for his sense of humor. All the same, that little smirk on his face that day told another story; one that revealed to me, all too briefly, a different side to the man I knew as my father. Though often well hidden, there is more to Charlie than meets the eye. Sometimes the entertainment value is deliberate – puns and jokes few might find funny, but witty in their own way nonetheless. And other times, Dad can be unintentionally entertaining. These moments are the ones I probably treasure the most.
Asking about the meaning of modern-day slang,: “W-H-O-O-P-A-S-S. Whoop Ass?”
His wind chime made from hard disk platters, hung decoratively outside because they were, “guilty of losing people’s data.”
Signing along to Johnny Cash songs:
Johnny Cash: “I fell into a burning ring of fire.”
Dad: “Then where’d ya go?”
Johnny Cash: “I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher.”
Dad: “Must be hot down there.”
Johnny Cash: “And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire.”
Dad: “The ring of fire.”
Johnny Cash: “The ring of fire.”
You might think it’s all tongue in cheek; he’s playing dumb or not letting you in on his private joke, much in the way he did with the gas station attendant all those years ago.
Charlie can be devious. He could probably make a bad pea-nuts joke (not dirty, but lame) that would have the Charles Schulz spinning in his grave and you’d still find yourself at least cracking a smile. But the side that very few people get to see, when he thinks no one is looking, Dad, for all his faults and complaining, is just as entertaining as Snoopy.