OK, so the title of this blog may not come as a surprise revelation to those of you who know me, you may wonder why the use of question marks at all, surely this is a statement of fact, not a thought for contemplation. However, I do have one revelation to share with you that will come as big news to everyone, hold on to your hats..... I think Charles Schulz is my dad!!!
Yep, you read it right kids! I'm sure this may come as a shock to, well everyone! Having made that statement, let me also say, this idea is about as far from scandal as one can get, in fact, I write this blog as an ode to the Peanuts Gang, a fine group of round headed kids that I've loved since I first set eyes on them. I also write this as a tribute to Mr. Schulz, who I discovered really was almost a father figure to me - without knowing it. I only realized this myself a few years back.
Let me set the scene for you as to when I came upon this realization.
While my family and I were on a 10 day road-trip to California, I decide that en route home we simply must stop in Santa Rosa and visit, the Charles Schulz Museum.
In an odd way, it felt like a pilgrimage to me, I know, some people make their way to Mecca, some to the Temple in Jerusalem and others perhaps to Tennessee to check out Graceland. To each his own I say, for me though, I felt it would be wrong not to, at some point stop by the stomping grounds of Mr. Schulz. The museum is an absolutely wonderful place - I felt like I had entered Heaven, but a bit of a strange feeling stayed with me as I wandered the building. The museum houses an amazing collection of all things Peanuts and of course, Schulz, including a re-creation of his working area in his studio, complete with many personal items and the drawing board that he used for most of his career as a Cartoonist. I looked upon of these treasures almost as a walk down memory lane for me. While at the museum, I signed a guest book, you know the kind, write your name, where you're from and your thoughts on the museum. It was at that moment, while sat in a chair, contemplating what to write for a comment that I realized why this cast of characters had been so important to me since I was about 6 years old....eureka!!! Mr. Schulz, through his characters, had help to parent me and guide me through a life that at times, was a lot to bear for a little girl. These characters really did help to shape me into the person that I am today. I realized in that very moment why I've always identified so strongly with many of these personalities. Even to this day, in the 'about me' section of my blog, I describe myself as 1/3 Charlie Brown, 1/3 Snoopy and 1/3 Linus....the only thing I should now add to that is, with a dash of Sally Brown. This original equation is what I wrote in my comments of that guest book and from that moment on, it all made sense.
I knew lots of people who liked the Peanuts Gang, but only few, who seemed to love them in the way that I did. I'd even been asked at times, 'why do you love them so much, they're not even that funny sometimes'. Well on that point I agree, but I didn't keep coming back to them for the non-stop laughs, though there was plenty of humour to be found. I returned again and again, for almost 40 years, because I identified with them, understood their problems, listened to their solutions, felt their heartache, laughed at their madness and mostly, learned to deal with life in many ways, without the involvement of adults.
I am the youngest of 4 kids in my family and the only girl, that dynamic alone had me often figuring out my own stuff. Add to that, I was, within the walls of my home, an extremely quiet child....almost mute in fact, I'm sure my brothers may dispute that one, but ask my mum. I could sit for hours at a time alone, colouring away or heading outside for a few hours of kicking a soccer ball against the side of our house. I was also one of those kids who thought....a lot!! Where I lacked in speech, I made up ten-fold in thinking.
Much of my childhood was marred with the constant sound of arguing, far more than what would be considered normal. Unfortunately, my father wasn't that nice to us most of the time and in combination with that, the youngest of my brothers went through a lot of personal struggles that increased the fighting and tension in the home to an unbearable amount. I'd often head to a tree in our backyard, where I'd climb up to escape the madness.
All of this contributed to how I dealt with life, and one thing I rarely did was to bring additional problems to my parents. Not saying that I didn't have them, just that I dealt with pretty much everything on my own, a fairly heavy burden at times, especially when you start doing this as a little girl. I was in many ways like a small adult....haa, and at five feet tall, I still fit that description!
Enter Charlie Brown and the gang. While many kids just watched the specials and laughed at the crazy antics of Snoopy, I think, in a way without knowing how much, I picked up life lessons with each TV special, and I watched them every time they aired, so these lessons were reinforced over and over again.
I identified with the 3 characters mentioned for the following reasons -
Most of my friends know my Snoopy side best. That would be the funny, passionate...koo-koo crazy girl. Snoopy is a free spirit, who is enjoys his passions to the fullest.
Whether it be his fantasy life as the WWI Flying Ace, (yup, I have my war fantasies too...WWII spy etc) or writing a novel atop of his doghouse (hmm, writing...starting fiddling with that at about 9 years old)or perhaps just 'being' Joe Cool with his shades on.....I apologize to those of you who may have had a beverage in your mouth while reading the cool part and as a result now have a very wet screen from spitting out your coffee or the like, in mockin' my coolness. Snoopy really is my crazy side, he has mad ideas and never second guesses them, just lets them unfold with pure conviction. I relate to this trait, a lot.
Next is my Charlie Brown-ness. Truth be known there is always a part of me that feels like I don't fit in...oooh, but please don't feel sorry for me, I kinda like it that way. I like life under the radar, gives you the perfect position for observing others from. Good ol'Chuck is the eternal optimist though and so am I.
No matter how many times he 'got a rock', or how many footballs were pulled away from him he still believed in the goodness of mankind and would always give people another chance. He has a good heart, but isn't always treated with the same kindness. Although he sometimes wishes people understood him better, he isn't afraid to stand up for what he thinks is right - remember the sweet little tree he chose for the Christmas play...I would've picked the same one! He didn't listen to the advice of others, he went with what his heart told him to do.
I listen to my heart often too...even when my heads strongly disagrees.
Chuck is definitely an underdog, but that never stops him from giving it his all.
I like underdogs, always find the fight they possess far more interesting then those who go through life seemingly easily.
And lastly my boy Linus. The sensible, analytical, intelligent if sometimes, somewhat naive grounding force. He is for me the part of my personality that brings together the Snoopy and the Charlie Brown, makes them meet in the middle and doesn't let either of those sides get too out of control, he is my common sense.
One of my favourite parts of the show/strip was always when Charlie Brown and Linus would have their heart to heart chats on the bridge. They would together try to sort out the meaning of life, or at least the latest thing thrown their way.
Linus would always give Charlie his honest and sincere thoughts on whatever problems Charlie had.
My dash of Sally Brown comes courtesy of my age, I no longer hide my child-like kooky ways, the older you get, the less you give a rats arse about what people think of you. So yes, it's true I have been known to (almost) squeal with delight when I find something I like...say like the Incredible Hulk doll that I recently bought. I spotted him and squealed (yup!)'oh, look he's so cute, look at his crazy smile and messy hair - I must have him!!' Yes, people looked....and no, I didn't care. And yes, he now lives with me. Thank you Sally Brown for your unbridled enthusiasm for the things you enjoy - like all those times you've publicly declared your love for your 'sweet babboo'. I understand that sometimes you just can't hold those feelings in, you must shout it from the rooftops (or squeal it in a store)!
When you think about this group of kids, there is really very little that is kid-like about them. Starting with the fact that there is virtually no adult interference in their lives to sort through the problems that they face, the most we get from the adults is the occasional waa, waa, waa...which leaves us to interpret that advice however we see fit. Charles Schulz, through this group of kids manages to touch on war, religion, loss, coping, self esteem, doubts, fears, joy, bliss, commerce, friendship, teamwork, love and of course, unrequited love and a myriad of other issues. He manages to do this without sugar-coating things to the extent that you'd expect a kids show to do, he explains life's issues in an honest way, that shows you that though things don't always go the way you want them to, there are ways to solve and overcome life's struggles and that joy may be just around the next corner. A very important lesson at any age.
Mr. Schulz, you've been with me for most of my life, guiding me with your lessons and helping me to become a better person, and I'm proud to say, I am a nut!
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.