NORMAN — The late and very funny Rodney Dangerfield made lots of money telling the world that “I don’t get no respect” from the people in his life.
A successful career in comedy clubs, casinos, movies and TV appearances endeared him to millions of fans as a comic genius who mastered the art of poking fun at himself instead of others.
He stayed in character to the very end. On his tombstone in Los Angeles, engraved below his name is “There goes the neighborhood.”
I still look for his standup routines on YouTube when I need a good laugh. However, my family has helped me relate to ole Rodney over the years.
Like most men my age, I’ve picked up a few pounds along the way. I was yawning one day when a muscle cramp developed under my chin.
I told my wife that I had a cramp in my chin and she asked: “Which one?”
On another occasion, one of our daughters invited her friends to join her grade school basketball team.
When they asked who would coach the team, my daughter replied: “We don’t have a real coach, we have Dad.”
One of the clubs at our local high school needed a speaker for career day. Our son volunteered my services, saying: “We don’t need much of a speaker so Dad will do fine.”
I received a surprise award for volunteer work in the community. My entire family was present.
When the presentation ended, another son was surprised, saying: “I heard all of that good stuff they said but I couldn’t tell it was you.”
Father’s Day was memorable the year our daughter, then five, stood up in church and said she would like to say good things about me but didn’t know me that well.
I once gave my Little League baseball team a pep talk about teamwork and used the old line about there being no “I” in team.
Still another son pointed out to everyone in the dugout, however, that the word does have a “me.”
The latest happened this week when my wife and I were talking about celebrities who change their names.I told her I might pick a name from Bluegrass music. She suggested I go with “Lester Fat.”
Innocently, I asked if she had meant to say “Lester Flatt” of the legendary Flatt and Scruggs duo, instead of “Fat.”
She turned away, chuckling, after her response: “No, I used the right name.”
Rodney, I feel your pain.
Keith Kappes is a columnist at The Morehead (Ky.) News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.