Saturday, September 20, 2008

Really Good Grief

Give us this day our daily low-carb, gluten-free bread, and forgive us for eating three slices instead of the one we would have eaten, wanted to eat, had it been white, or thick.
In my own mind I know I'm a great writer. So . . .how does one go about escaping one's own mind?
What I really wanted to talk about was Peanuts.
Peanuts have become a staple of my diet. Once a superfluous fiber, along with popcorn, pecans, particularly have taken the place of dessert. Rather, they have become dessert, I didn't bother much with it before I couldn't eat it.
But, I meant Peanuts, the comic strip; the daily public journal of a very American man.
Sparky (as he didn't like to be called), also known as Charles Schulz, has been an influence on my entire life in much the same way that observation affects outcome, so said Schroedinger.
At the risk of sounding maudlin, Schulz comforted me with distraction even as a child.
As did the short-lived Jalapeno flavor of Lays potato chips.
As did curling up in the antediluvian plaid arm-chair in front of the picture window which no doubt comforted me as well.
Psychoanalytically speaking, I'm quite sure I gained a preeminence over the world-at-large by sitting in front of a large picture window with no curtains while maintaining my comfort zone
in my nook,
with the chips,
and the book.
Too young to suspect I was empathizing with Charlie Brown (although I had more in common with Linus,
the blanket
or perhaps Shermy, as he was a filler, whereas at least Charlie Brown enjoyed the miserable center stage, with his cool, ungrateful dog.
The philosophy of Schulz never occurred to my eight-year-old brain, at least consciously.
But over the years, the perpetual failure of Charlie Brown, and the fact that this failure was the subject of humor, has molded a part of my personality with gentle pressure.
At once as cuddly as a plush Snoopy, and as brutal as a disrobing line drive, Schulz's narrative of what he called his everyman was an enveloping buffer for my world at large.
I do identify with Charlie Brown, although my fellow characters have been much kinder than, say, Lucy, much kinder indeed than Patty or Violet, (particularly notable for their almost sociopathic psychological abuse of Charlie Brown.)
But many of my characters have exhibited the same fair-weather friendliness of Schroeder,
the same cloying,
self-serving attentions of the insecure Peppermint Patty,
and the animal ingratitude and disinterest of his transcendentally hip dog.
Any dismissal of Schulz as a mere cartoonist reveals a lack of depth in the critic.
He was not wise, but he was exceptionally honest and wickedly comfortable with his immersion, if not understanding, of the life we live.
So, grab a Peanuts book next time you're at the library and keep it in the bathroom.


Charity said...

I remember the plaid armchair! :)

wncjr said...

Maybe I should have encouraged you to read superman comic books.