12/8/06 - peanuts

In today's excerpt, Charles Schulz, with the meteoric success of his comic strip Peanuts, becomes one of America's most influential commentators on life in this country through his clear and original insights into the nature and behavior of his own children:

"Linus's beloved Miss Othmar, his teacher, is a rather strange person, and I tried to do much with her through the conversation of Linus. I have experimented with a two-level story line at times. I have tried to show Linus's view of what is happening at school, but then show what actually was occurring. I have done this to bring out a truth that I have observed, and this is that children see more than we think they do, but at the same time almost never seem to know what is going on. ...

"Charlie Brown defined security as being able sleep in the back seat of your parents' car. This, again, is a childhood memory, one supported by many readers who have told me that they also recall the wonderful joy of doing this with a feeling of complete security when returning home late at night. The shattering blow comes in later years when one realizes that this can never happen again. Adults are doomed to ride in the front seat forever. ...

"Children do not converse. They say things. They ask, they tell, and they talk, but they know nothing of one of the great joys in life, conversation. Then, along about twelve, give or take a year on either side, two young people sitting on their bicycles near a front porch on a summer evening begin to talk about others that they know, and conversation is discovered. Some confuse conversation with talking of course, and go on for the rest of their lives, never stopping, boring others with meaningless chatter and complaints. But real conversation includes asking questions, and asking the right ones before it's too late. ...

(And then Schulz inserts this gem) "One evening, the entire family was around the dinner table and, for some reason, my daughter Amy seemed particularly noisy. After putting up with this for about ten minutes, I turned to her and said, 'Amy, couldn't you be quiet for just a little while!' She said nothing, but picked up a piece of bread and began to butter it with a knife and asked, 'Am I buttering too loud for you?' "


Charles Schulz, edited by David Larkin


Peanuts: A Golden Celebration




Copyright 1999United Feature Syndicate, Inc.


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