Rob Taylor: Desperately Seeking Inspirational Peanuts
If Guys Could Talk
Every day, for half a lifetime, in black and white Monday through Saturday and in living color on Sundays, the magic of Charles Schultz landed on our front door steps, was savored between bites of cereal, and ultimately took up residence in our hearts. Just how many readers first picked up a newspaper solely because of “Peanuts”? The number, whatever it is, will likely never again be halved, let alone equaled.
Each new day, Peanuts provided hope: hope that Charlie Brown would kick the football, would fly his kite, would score a Valentine’s Day card, would sweep the little red-headed girl off her feet. At the age of 6, I became a “lifer” – hooked by psychotic kindergartners, upright beagles and unrequited love.
Six years after Schultz’s passing (in 2006), I caught “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at the Grand Lake Rep. Theater. I savored every line with a lump in my throat – absorbing familiar characters like long lost soul mates, realizing, once again, that despite the soap opera, childhood innocence is, perhaps, the most beautiful thing on earth.
For me, life after Schultz has been a struggle. “Calvin and Hobbes” and “The Far Side” eased the pain for a while, until they both went the way of “Peanuts.” Now there’s nothing in “the funnies” that captivates me. And that is why, I think, my eyes began to wander to the sports page, politics, the weather … even Dear Abby.
‘Dateless 23-Year-Old’ caught my attention some time ago when she wrote our beloved Abby. She described herself as “a real catch”, “beautiful inside and out”, but, sadly, only attracted “creeps,” and the men she “deserved” wanted no part of her.
Dateless delivered my first laugh-out-loud, roll-on-the-floor, pee-my-pants funny newspaper experience since the Peanuts glory days.
“What’s so funny?” everyone at the office asked. I handed them the paper and pointed.
Dateless jumped off the pages, especially for women aged 25 – 40, who said: “Gotta’ love it when a ‘real catch’ attracts leeches and toads.”
“Perfect. She’s available and I’ve got a creep I need to get off my back.”
“Ahhh, inner beauty. Code words for “I attract guys who tuck their sweaters in their pants and wear tube socks.”
Sadly, the next Dear Abby column – a woman perturbed over an acquaintance bragging about how much money she spent – didn’t have the Lucy -Schroeder charm of Dateless’ desperate plea. In fact, the new column didn’t even yield a smile.
Thus ended my Dear Abby fling.
Back to the headlines, letters to the editor and political columns for me. Sigh. Surely, there’s more to life than this.
Truth is: the Charles Schultz void can only be filled by children, my children – now ages 3 and 5. There’s a little Lucy in them both when it comes to negotiating toys. A little Schroeder in them when they seize a wooden spoon and a pot. Lots of pigpen in both. I savor every moment – sometimes, like Snoopy, in front of a typewriter, squabbling over adjectives with Woodstock … often trying to capture slices of life that are better felt than explained.
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