We were driving in downtown Santa Rosa after dark on Shannon’s birthday. Zoe had had a long day at school and parking places were in short supply.
“Why do they have so many statues of Charlie Brown?” asked Zoe.
“Charles Schulz, the guy who wrote the cartoons, lived in Santa Rosa,” said Shannon. “That’s why they have all the statues of the characters.”
“Yeah, I know. But why do they have so many of Charlie Brown. He’s boring.”
“So is Linus,” said Shannon. “He’s uptight. And Lucy’s a bitch, taking that ball away. In fact, all the Charlie Brown characters are jerks.”
“I like Snoopy, though,” said Zoe.
“Yeah, Snoopy’s cool,” said Shannon.
“And I like his bird-friend,” added Zoe. “What was he called?”
“Woodstock,” I say quietly. I want to tell them that my friend Lucy stole the show as Woodstock in the play Snoopy! a few years ago, but I am spellbound by this glimpse into the American psyche.
“Yeah, Woodstock. He’s cool,” said Zoe. “Why can’t all of the cartoons have been about Snoopy and Woodstock?”
The only Woodstock statue in Santa Rosa, CA
“Well,” I said. “Millions of people all over the world loved Charlie Brown.”
“Yeah, but why?” asked Zoe.
“I guess they must have seen something of themselves in him,” I said. “He spoke to them about their own experiences as a child, and maybe even as an adult.”
“Well he was a loser,” said Shannon.
“Yeah, he sucked,” said Zoe.
As a depressed child I identified strongly with Charlie Brown’s depression. Every time it rains on me I still think of the cartoon where it rains progressively harder on Charlie Brown before he says, ‘It always rains on the unloved’. “Charles Schulz was certainly a very successful American,” I said, keeping my thoughts to myself.
“Charlie Brown sucked,” said Zoe.