My dad thought the pie in the face was just about the funniest thing. For years I secretly mailed him cartoons and news clippings about pie in the face incidents. If a movie with a pie fight or a news report of a pie in the face was going to air, I’d have a friend call my dad and in a sneaky voice instruct him to turn his TV at just the right moment.
I’d have friends traveling to other countries take with them pie recipes or pie in the face news clippings to tape to a postcard and send to my dad. He’d receive silly pie-mail postmarked from all over the world.
When Johnny Carson did his oft done Pie in the Face schtick, a friend from N.Y.C. would alert me and I’d have a friend in California call my dad with instructions to watch Johnny’s monolog, PST.
All the letters and phone calls came from his elusive “Pie Pal.” For years he speculated: Who was be behind it? Might it be one of his grad students? Maybe someone from his church? . . . We’d discuss if Pie Pal was someone from ____ or maybe from ____.
For his 60th birthday I surprised him with a pie in his face. We had 2 dozen pie tins filled with whipped cream waiting when he got home, for a hilarious pie fight with all of the extended family, in the front yard.
The fun and mystery of Pie Pal went on for 20 years. It was so much fun for both of us. I often imagined how fun it was going to be to tell him it was me. I imagined I would tell him one day when he was very, very old and we were reminiscing. I never imagined he’d be sneaky and up and die suddenly–never knowing I was his secret Pie Pal.
This isn’t a cautionary tale about telling people you love them in case they die before you are ready. That is, however, a good message. I’m just telling a story. It’s a story that is dear to me and happily I got to think of it today because of this great photo I found from my beloved Oakland A’s. I find myself feeling gratitude every time a Pie in the Face story crosses my path. Makes me have a happy little smile to know that someone else’s goofball antics have, for me, a deep and meaningful message.
I loved you a lot, dad. And I miss you even more.
Smile. Be happy. Even when your eyes are filed with tears.