Friday, April 16, 2010

This ain't Sam Snead...

This is the Peanuts daily strip from yesterday, April 15, 2010. It was first published in the early 1960s. It's also part of a synchronistic event. In the strip Sally says she's borrowed a book from the library on Sam Snead. My wife, Sally, and I were talking about Sam Snead on Sunday, while watching the golf tournament.

We weren't talking about Sam Snead, the man, but about an incident from the early years of our marriage. In 1971 we were friends with Hal and Lois (not their real names). They had a 7-year-old boy, Richie. Hal and Lois picked us up on a Saturday night for a date at Shakey's Pizza. On the way to the restaurant Hal stopped and took Richie into his mother's house, where he'd stay for a couple of hours while we ate dinner.

Shakey's was a pizza chain. Live music was played, usually some guy playing a honkytonk piano, while customers sang along. Beer was by the pitcher. Hal and Lois were both testy; they'd been grousing at each other all night over one thing or another. They weren't usually contentious around us, but either one could occasionally flare up. One pitcher of beer between the four of us became another pitcher of beer, and Lois was a bit loaded. The piano player played "God Bless America," and most of the people in the place stood up to sing along. Hal remained seated. So did we. Standing is done during the national anthem, not "God Bless America." Lois, on her feet, yelled at Hal, "Stand up, goddammit!" He said, "I don't have to. You don't stand up for this song."

They got into a shouting match over whether standing during that song was appropriate, and Lois yelled at Hal, "I hope they send you to Vietnam and shoot your ass off!" That was below the belt. Hal wasn't drafted because he had a married father deferment. Hal and Lois bickered during the ride home. Sally and I sat in the back seat, embarrassed by the display. At one point when Lois was saying something to Hal he snapped, "Shut your yap!" A funny expression, just not funny at that moment.

At Hal's mom's house both Hal and Lois went in to pick up Richie. They were in there for quite a long time. Sally and I wondered what was going on. The front door banged open and Lois came running out, followed by Hal. I don't know exactly what happened because it was dark, but the next thing we saw was Lois on the ground, screaming, and Hal standing over her yelling, "THIS AIN'T SAM SNEAD YOU'RE FOOLIN' WITH, BABY!"

Sam...Snead? Sally and I looked at each other in bewilderment. Did he say...Sam Snead? Hal and Lois went back into the house, and a few minutes later they brought out Richie. We drove the rest of the way in silence. We never did learn what Hal meant by invoking the name of golf legend Sam Snead. The closest I could come in my mind was Sam Spade, from The Maltese Falcon, a 1940 movie with Humphrey Bogart.

Every once in a while Sally will say something and I'll respond, "This ain't Sam Snead you're foolin' with, baby!"

Peanuts creator Charles Schulz could have invoked any one of a roster of golf greats, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, et al., but he chose Sam Snead because Snead's name sounds funnier. Schulz could tweak any sort of humorous situation and give it a little extra. I'm not sure about Hal, but maybe in the heat of the moment that's what he was doing, too.

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