Norris was born in the small town of Lewes, Delaware, on March 13, 1944, the third of four children. His father, Ellsworth Q. Norris, worked at a warehouse where toy cars with chipped paint were stored until they could be shipped back to the manufacturer for repainting (toys with different defects were stored in a separate warehouse across the street). His mother, Pearl Norris, was known for making "the best darn tootin' apple cobbler in Lewes."
Norris was a B student, but received high marks in mathematics. At age 18, he made the bold decision to "move to the big city" of Wilmington (pop. 72,000), a decision for which his mother would gently chide him for the rest of her life. Norris found employment at the small CPA firm Lee, Gracie & Seagal, where he continues to work to this day.
In 1965, Norris married Ruth Smith, an intern at his father's warehouse. Over the next five years, the Norrises gave birth to 2.7 children (Thomas, Mary, and Cristop Norris), and acquired a small dog and some tropical fish.
In the early 1980s, Norris began to notice that people were making jokes about him for no apparent reason. "One of the boys in processing started calling me 'Lone Wolf McQuade,'" Norris recalls. "It was really quite alarming. I double-checked my birth certificate and confirmed that that wasn't my name. I called my parents and asked them if we had a relative named McQuade that he might have mistaken me for. In the end, I had to have him fired."
Sadly, this wrongful termination did not stop the occasional jokes from coming in. In 1988, Norris was eating at a diner when a waitress asked him if he was going to save them from General Quoc. "I didn't appreciate that," Norris says of the incident. "What made her think I would know any Generals? Normally, I leave a tip of 15.5%, minus two-tenths of a percent for every incident of substandard service. But I left this waitress a mere 13.3%. Well, it was closer to 13.27%, but that's only because I had to round to the nearest cent. I was paying cash, you see. I had half a mind to round the extra cent down, too, to 13.23%, but then I thought to myself, 'Now, Chuck, let's not get carried away.'"
The teasing only became more intense in the 1990s; the sporadic bouts of unusual comments developed into a veritable torrent. "Everyone kept calling me 'Walker'!" recalls a frustrated Norris. "I was only in my mid-50s, and I kept wondering why people would imply that I'd soon be needing a walker to get around. My father didn't purchase a walker until he was seventy-six years, four months, and five days old. He wrote it off his taxes under IRS Pub 502. Also, people kept asking me what being a Texas Ranger was like. I never understood that. I called Ruth three times in 1994 and asked her if I had a Texas accent I didn't know about. But all three times, she said 'No, Dear.'"
A particularly unpleasant incident occurred in 1998, when a young client came to Lee, Gracie & Seagal (now Gracie & Norris) to inquire about whether he could write toiletries off as business expenses, and whether insect repellent qualified as a toiletry. "This young man was unbelievably rude," says a frustrated Norris; "I shook his hand and said, 'Hi, I'm Chuck Norris,' and he said 'Whoa! Don't roundhouse kick me!'""All I could do was smile and nod politely, but inside, that really bewildered me," Norris continues. "I don't even know what a 'roundhouse' is. I looked it up the next day, though. I was feeding my fish, and I thought 'You know, I should look up the word "roundhouse".' I have nine neon tetras. I used to have eight, but then one died, and then I bought two more. I considered splurging for three more fish, but good sense won the day. Anyway, Webster's Dictionary defines 'roundhouse' as 'a building for the servicing and repair of locomotives.' Why would I kick that? It just doesn't make any sense."
In 2005, Norris experienced a breakthrough in his ongoing quest to understand why people made fun of him in such absurd ways. "My computer had broken down," Norris remembers. "Someone had told me to try the 'internet,' but when I typed 'internet' at the C:> prompt, the computer just said 'Bad or Invalid Command.' So I called Brett, our IT employee. IT stands for Information Technology."
"Brett was a real piece of work," Norris continues. "He wasn't wearing a tie, and the top button on his collar was open. Kids these days have no sense of professionalism. Anyway, Brett asked me if the granite in Mt. Rushmore was too soft for my beard, and I exclaimed, 'Why do you people keep asking me these absurd questions?' Then the little miscreant had the temerity to tell me to 'Go Google myself'! I told that ruffian that I was a Presbyterian, thank you very much, and I would thank him to leave my office immediately."
However, several weeks later, Norris learned what Brett had actually meant. "It turns out," Norris says, "that some ne'er-do-wells have been writing lists of 'facts' about me, printing them out, and mailing them to each others' internets! Not only that, but these lists are in no way factual! They've portrayed me as some kind of absurd figure who kicks people!"
Nervous breakdown and recovery
Upon reading these lists, Norris suffered a nervous breakdown and was checked into Wilmington General Hospital. However, over the course of the next three months, he slowly recovered.
"I had a brilliant therapist," says Norris. "Her name was Tracy. She suggested that I make a list of real facts about myself, to counter those slanderous lists that have been circulating. So I sat down and I made that list. And now I'd like to share it with you."
Real Facts about Chuck Norris
- Chuck Norris likes tropical fish. People say that tropical fish don't have personalities, but Chuck Norris thinks his fish are happy to see him when he comes home.
- Chuck Norris enjoys barbecues. If you're having a barbecue, you should invite him. He will bring some chicken.
- Chuck Norris usually gets sleepy after lunch, but he doesn't take a nap. Instead, he drinks a cup of coffee.
- Chuck Norris charges people extra to do their taxes any time after March 15.
- Chuck Norris puts a great deal of effort into keeping a well-manicured lawn. Chuck Norris asks that you please do not walk on his lawn.
- Chuck Norris wishes that Washington, D.C. were more like Delaware.
- Chuck Norris has never kicked anything, except one time when he bought a car, he kicked the tires. But it didn't feel right, and he regretted it.
"Those were all the facts I could think of," says Norris. "I'll admit: writing that list was hard work. But it did make me feel much better."