"Hi, thank you for calling Dumbinoes. Will this be delivery or carry out?"
"Alright. Can I get your name, please?"
< ... wait for it ... >
"You mean, like Chuck?"
Back in middle school, Chuck Norris rose from a Vietnam rice paddy with a thumping M-60 clenched in one hand, a belt of rounds draped over his forearm. It went to slow motion. Muddy water streamed from his beard, as the prattling weapon straffed the screen, spitting brass and fire while Chuck's muscles and surly jowls jiggled from the automatic recoil. Ever since that cinematic moment, that guy has managed to remain in the spotlight, in one way or another, for the last three decades. Commendable. Sort of.
I wasn't always "M.C." Norris. Sounds a like a rapper, doesn't it? That was never my intention. The "M" stands for Mike, and the "C" stands for Christian, my middle name. Nor was "M.C. Norris" a pretentious gimmick. In fact, it was nothing but an annoying neccesity to move forward with my writing gig. The name change was just another one of my hundreds of defensive moves against the bearded martial artist we all know and love, named Chuck. Please let me explain.
Nothing against the most noteworthy Norris of all time, but the thing is, the guy is a walking caricature, and always has been. It doesn't seem to bother him. He seems to enjoy drawing the attention of his action fan base and Republican voters at about the same rate as he has always invited some underground mockery, which has been unfairly distributed down through the Norris lineage since he rose like the Kraken from that rice paddy, back in 1984.
My nickname in middle school was Chuck. I hated that. The nickname followed me into high school, and you can bet that I hated that even more. Middle school was rough, so I looked forward to high school, hoping to at last be able to mix it up with some new friends from different schools, and sort of reinvent myself. But, at that point in time, I was a ninety-pound crack baby with not even a hint of puberty on what seemed a very bleak horizon. Things were tough, and they got a lot tougher. The last thing an underdeveloped little dweeb like me needed was an inexorable association to that campy icon of musclebound, butt-kicking machismo. The irony was palpable. And my irony-detection hardware was immeasurably more sensitive than that of those who were dishing it out.
By then, Chuck had sort of devolved from his heydey as an action movie star, to a sort of action movie mascot, targeting a much younger audience. Anybody but me remember the Saturday morning cartoon called, Chuck Norris and the Karate Commandos? It seemed to hit the airwaves right-smack at onset of my Freshman year, back in 1986. I think the guy even had his own breakfast ceral for a while. But in the series, Chuck and his team of animated expendables were pitted against an arch-villain by the name of "Super Ninja." You heard me right. You have to wonder how many minutes that creative team must have spent brooding over the names of Chuck's series, and that of the arch-enemy. I'm thinking right about three.
But, put yourself in my shoes. You're a diminutive Freshman in a Catholic high school, with the nickname "Chuck Norris" branded permanently onto your hide. You're just walking through the crowded halls between bells, trying to be invisible, but about every twenty paces, someone twice or three times your size is jumping at out you in a Karate stance, whooping like Bruce Lee, and challenging you to a bout of hallway humiliation. You could either take it or fight back, but at ninety pounds, the end result was fairly predictable. I had a real smart mouth and an attitude to match, and I didn't take one ounce of crap off of anybody, so as a result I probably took more beatings than Super Ninja, just trying to survive from the age of twelve to fifteen.
But no amount of humiliation inflicted upon his clan was about to stop Chuck. Walker, Texas Ranger came next, and a couple of bad sequels. But despite Chuck's continually undermining efforts, I managed to survive high school. I grew. By the end of Sophmore year, I'd grown six inches and put on thirty pounds. The abuse stopped. Things settled down. And by the time I went off to college, I began to notice that a new sort of peace seemed to have settled throughout all of Norrisdom. Lo and behold, the Chuck jokes became less frequent, as Chuck Norris himself seemed to be fading quietly into obscurity. Or so we thought ...
Around the millenium, Chuck surprised everyone by suddenly appearing on stage behind Republican candidates. He didn't say much. He was just there, posing with an air of stoic solidarity, looking vaguely reminescent of his Walker Ranger character in his cowboy hat and jeans, backing those blue blood politicians with some blue collar muscle. Norrises all around the world groaned. I swear, I heard them. He was back. Chuck was back in town. And with this latest resurrection came a new and unprecedented deluge of jokes. But this time, the jokes were pimping him.
"While the other children were playing in sand, Chuck Norris played in concrete."
"Chuck Norris kills imaginary friends."
"Chuck Norris can build a snowman out of rain."
I'm sure you've heard them. And if not, you get the idea. And as much as I hated to see Chuck back in the spotlight, albeit in kind of a punk way, the jokes were pretty funny. And still are. Even the film Expendables II took advantage of the resurge of Chuck popularity by casting him as a sort of cameo wrapped inside of a cameo. His first scene was nothing more than a live action Chuck Joke, and that was pretty awesome. Rent the movie, if you want the details.
The thing is, with Chuck's every death and resurrection comes a backlash of Chuck Norris jabs directed at innocent Norrises, worldwide. You have to be a Norris to understand this, but every single joker, over the last three decades, who has ever responded to my name with, "Ya mean like Chuck?" or "Any relation to Chuck?" always wears the same smug look of satisfaction, as if they think that they are the very first person clever enough to make such a witty connection. With the recent popularity of Chuck Jokes came a newly inspired generation. It was like going through a time machine, facing another crop of pimply-faced teens who once again believe they're tapping a virgin resource.
Chuck hasn't done anything wrong. He has just always been out there, being Chuck, and the collateral damage has all been socially inflicted. I'll venture to say that Chuck Norris has no idea how much ill effect his success has had on humble Norris clans, worldwide. How could he? Chuck Norris, by virtue of his very existence, has annoyed his fellow Norrises for far longer than any famous or infamous personality should be allowed to tarnish their family name (suddenly, this really makes me feel for people with names like Hitler, Dahmer and Bobbit ... holy god!).
But Chuck's most recent, and most personal, snap-kick to my groin came when I was ready to start marketing my novels. I built my first website, started picking out a domain, and then I thought that I'd better google myself, first. You know, just to see if there was another Mike Norris out there, with whom I'd be competing for webspace. To my immeasurable dismay, I found that there is indeed another Mike Norris who is out there, right now, hogging all of the search engine spiders. And this man is none other than Chuck Norris' son.