My dad is hilarious. Not the obvious kind of hilarious a la Adam Sander or Robbin Williams or Jim Carrey. More of a subtle surprising hilarity that catches you off-guard.
In fact, “funny” probably wouldn’t be a characteristic many people would associate with him. He’s a proud introvert and engineer (shocking to see those two words associated, I know!). He’s often described as smart, thoughtful, innovative and kind. His ideal vacation is him with a backpack and miles and miles of wilderness as far as the eye can see.
But for those of us who know him well, he’s witty and clever and, occasionally, a comic genius.
This was no better demonstrated than at his birthday last year.
My dad’s birthday falls near Thanksgiving, so we usually celebrate while the whole family is still in town, and last year was no exception. Per my father’s request, my dad, mom, their 3 kids and our S.O.’s piled into the family van to head up into the Santa Cruz Mountains for a walk in the redwoods.
Ah yes, our family van. This 1999 Dodge Van is just the most recent incarnation of my mom’s love for large luxurious vehicles. I believe this is the 5th full-sized van my parents have owned since my siblings and I were born. My mom says she likes sitting up high. I think she liked always being volunteered to chaperon my field-trips – that way she could keep an eye on me… :-) Regardless, these vans have been the unofficial mascot of our family.
Back to my Dad’s birthday – Around this time, I was just beginning to play with the idea of starting a blog dedicated to the adventures surrounding our newly purchased VW Bus, Bustache. I was throwing out ideas, discussing content and getting feedback from those nearest and dearest. As we drove into the mountains, with 8 of my favorite people packed tightly around me, the blog topic came up again.
“Mom, you should start a blog too! You could write about all the great time’s we’ve had in our vans.” I said.
“Then we could start a whole ring of blogs dedicated to our automobiles.” My sister chimed in. “We could call them ‘Vans of the Ring,’ or ‘Lord of the Buses’ or something like that.”
“I could…” My mom hesitated. “But we’d have to name the van.”
“You’re right.” I said. “It has to be something magestic.”
“And, white, like a cloud or a rabbit. “ My brother said.
“That’s not very majestic.” My mom replied.
“Wouldn’t it be great if it was something that called for a beard!?!” My sister exclaimed. “It would be the counter-part to Bustache! Like a wizard! A white wizard!”
Then, my dad, who seemed to be quietly avoiding the conversation offered, “The White Wizard – that’s, Gandalf. Why don’t we name it, ‘Vandalf. Vandalf and the Lord of the Buses.’”
We all looked surprisingly at my dad. He had nailed it in his unassumingly witty way. And, thus, Vandalf was christened.
My dad took his humor one step further, and on Christmas morning, my mom opened a gift containing this:
My dad had gotten her a “van”ity plate. Will the hilarity ever end! :-(D
And so, if you’re in Northern California, keep your eye out for the great White Wizard, Vandalf. Hopefully, he’ll grow a beard sometime soon. Another Christmas is just around the corner (hint, hint, Dad!)…
P.S. When I asked my mom to take a picture of Vandalf and send it to me, she included this photo in the set. Isn’t she the cutest!?!