Found this coffee mug recently, and I knew it was a perfect gift for my brother Josh.
Who doesn’t love a good coffee mug? “Why Mr. Peanut?”, you ask.
Because there’s a story there.
When I was about 6 my family lived just north of Atlanta, in Marietta,Georgia.
We were a young family, my parents were barely into their 30’s, and if I was 6, my Mother pregnant with Benjamin, that means my brother Joshua must have been almost 3.
The focus is on Joshua here, because as a small child he had a slight speech impediment, unfortunately combined with the slow Southern drawl from learning to talk in the deep south.
Speech therapy a few years later in primary school dissolved the issue all together, but for those first few years of Joshua’s “talking life” I’m fairly certain that we, his direct family, were the only ones who could understand half of what he had to say.
Most of his words were normal, but “airplane” became “hare-pwane”, “Luke Skywalker” was twisted into “Wook-Skywaka” , His favorite song……..”Winkle Winkle little Tar”….and so on. Cute, isn’t it? He was just a toddler, after all.
But the absolute worst word of all, was his name, Joshua Angus…… it sounded like,”Wa-a-Wa Engis”
Wa-A-Wa Engis, Adorable, am I right?
On a family outing to a mall in Atlanta we stumbled into a celebration of all things Planter’s Peanuts. There were free nut samples, peanut-related games, prizes, and peanut shaped baloons. Carter was in office and we were in Atlanta, peanuts were very big there in the late 70’s.
In the very center of the mall was a crowd gathered around a man in an 8 foot Mr. Peanut suit – complete with standard top hat, cane, and monocle – interviewing children with a microphone and giving away small Planter’s Peanuts related toys. This wasn’t the purpose of our mall trip, but we waited in line anyway so that I could talk to Mr. Peanut and claim my peanutty-toy.
When I finally got my turn with the spokesman our interaction went something like this:
Mr Peanut: “Well hello little boy, what’s your name.”
Mr. Peanut: “Is that your little brother?”
Me: “Yes! “(grabbing Josh by the hand and shoving him before the giant man-nut)
Mr. Peanut: (bending way over to look down at the toddler) “What’s you name little boy?”
3-year-old Josh: “WA-A-WA ENGIS!!!! “(as loud as he could into the microphone)
Mr Peanut: (pause) “and how old are you …. (bigger Pause) eeeehh……..Wa-a Wa?”
A stunned hush fell over the crowd.
I can’t remember if Josh answered him, I can’t remember if we even got our toys, but I do remember that my parents…… absolutely lost it. They laughed through the food court. They laughed all the way to Sears. They laughed in the parking lot on the way to the car.
On the drive home from the mall, my dad said out loud, to no one in particular, ” How old are you, Wa-a-wa?” and immediately had to pull the car over to the curb because he was crying/laughing too hard to see the road. This was about 40 years ago, and I guarantee that my dad still tells this story on a regular basis.
I wonder if the man dressed as Mr Peanut ever tells the story of that little boy in Atlanta with the terrible name.
I hope so.
I’m not going to bring up the time a few years later when I plucked a feather from Big Bird’s but on national television. The Angus boys will test the limits of any poor man in a costume.
That’s a story for another time.
This is a story about my little brother Josh.
Who’s birthday is today.
Happy Birthday Wa-a-Wa