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The following is a dramatization of a phone conversation Charlie had recently with his brother, Elmer. The entire dialogue is Dad’s side of the call (since I obviously couldn’t hear Elmer’s side) and is a fairly typical example of every conversation my dad has with any of our relatives who live back in North Dakota.

There are three things worth noting before we begin.

1. Dad is deaf and he will not admit it or use his hearing aids. Yes, he does in fact own hearing aids, but refuses to ever wear them which leads to a lot of SHOUTING as well as blaring TVs and music in the Schulz household.

2. Whenever someone asks how he’s doing, the standard Charlie answer usually involves “cheating death,” “death is coming eminently” (a claim he’s been making for the last 40 years or so), or “one day is worse than the next.”

3. Every conversation with relatives must at some point include an obituary briefing; a rundown of who’s dead, who’s dying, and how long he has or can out live them.

So with that, we set our scene:

The phone rings twice. Dad ignores it. The answering machine kicks in. No message.

BEAT

The phone again rings twice. The answering machine kicks in. Then Dad recognizes the number on the Caller ID just barely quick enough to grab the phone before Uncle Elmer hangs up in disgust.

“Hello?”

Hello?”

“What?”

“HELLO?!”

“WHAT?”

“Who’s that?”

“SPEAK UP!!!”

“ARRRRRGH!”

“ELMER!”

“Oh! Is that you?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you sure it isn’t Fudd…?”

“Is that’s right? Well what the hell!”

“What’s that?”

“WHAT?”

“Oh, we’re just livin’ one day to the next.”

“Ah, shit. Who knows?”

“Yeah, we got the kid here for the summer.”

“HUH?”

“I don’t know.”

“No, she’s not working. We had some nice hamburgers last night though.”

“Yeah.”

“How’s Mott? Dead?”

“Yeah. Dead, eh?”

“That’s it?”

“Anymore dead people there?”

“Blotty?”

“Oh yeah?”

“Ah, shit.”

“Well, that’s the end of that.”

“Anything else to say there?”

“Nothing, yeah?”

“Okay then. Good enough.”

“Yup. Bye.”

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deviantART artist ionselat

Feel free to tug on Superman’s cape and take your chances spittin’ in the wind, but I do not recommend asking my dad if he wants your help with something.

Anything. Not ever.

If you do (and God bless if you do), one of two things will happen:

1) You’re shot down with a resounding, “Hell NO!”

2) You receive the “Why Would You Even Ask Me Such a Stupid Question?” look (Charlie ™).

Such was the case when the handle on our kitchen sink broke and Dad begrudgingly mustered up the energy to actually do something about it.

The week began with me attempting to fill a glass (or some form of container) with water using the tap at the kitchen sink. On employment of said device, the handle immediately popped out of the base causing me to yelp, “What the…?” and resulting in no way to turn the water back off again. The former drew Charlie’s attention straight away as he lunged head first into playing the blame game.

Piscín the Wonder Kitten

Now before I go on, I should mention I am not a physically burly woman. I’m tall, about 130 lbs soaking wet and have the upper body strength of a small kitten. I suppose, if I really wanted to, I could probably rip the whole thing out with my bare hands (after several days and the assistance of a herd of steroid-fueled pro wrestlers), but in this case my only intention was to simply get a glass of water.

“Don’t pull the handle so hard!” Dad shouted across the room.

“I didn’t! It just came out!” I answered, swinging the handle indignantly in his general direction.

This went on for about a week; handle popping out and me or Dad resentfully popping it back into place. Then one morning Dad had apparently had enough of either my complaining or his own procrastination on the topic and finally took on the task of replacing the kitchen faucet. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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