For the past six decades or so, Bert A. Simpson has led a basic, ordinary life.
He served his country in World War II, got married, settled down and raised four children.Then, a little two-dimensional smart aleck named "Bart Simpson" comes along and disrupts Bert Simpson's peace and quiet.
Bart Simpson, of course, is the obnoxious but lovable 9-year-old in "The Simpsons," a cartoon that airs on the Fox television network. Despite his boast of underachievement, Bart and his family have become enormously popular, their likenesses reproduced on everything from socks to coffee mugs.
On the other hand, Bert Simpson, retired, lives in Roy and spends some of his time as a family counselor. A polite, soft-spoken man, Bert Simpson isn't at all like the Bartman.
"Oh, I was a little mischievous as a kid and I probably could have gone along with some of the things Bart does. . . . "
But thanks to Bart's fame, when Bert Simpson gives his name in public, he's on the receiving end of snickers and double takes.
And Bert's telephone, which once rang only occasionally with a client or a friend on the other end, rings frequently with prepubescent practical jokesters wanting to talk to their prime-time hero. With the exception of late-night prank calls, Bert has taken it all in good humor.
"They (the prank callers) would say, `Is Bart there?' And then they'd laugh. I'd say, `No, he's not here right now. Can I take your name and number and have him call you?' And then they'd always hang right up. . . .
"Once I said, `This is Homer. Bart's not here.' "
Bert has had similar adventures in public, where people, upon seeing his name, invariably ask, "Are you sure it's not Bart?""When I was down at the VA Hospital, two or three people caught the name and teased me about it a little bit, chuckled a little bit. They thought my name was misspelled. They checked it out to see if it's really my name."
None of the fun is lost on Kelly Simpson, one of Bert's sons, who bought his mom and dad "Simpsons" T-shirts.
Kelly said that although his dad's name is Bert, the teasing extends to everyone named Simpson.
"All of us take a lot of grief about being the Simpsons. I get called `Homer' and `Bart' at work."
But, as it says on the T-shirts, "As far as anybody knows, we're just an average family," Kelly said.