Sunday, June 11, 2006

Childhood hero

This, dear readers, in case anyone needs a primer, is Linus van Pelt, friend to Charlie Brown and Peanuts' resident philosopher.

My childhood home contained a complete and warmly dogeared collection of the paperbacked Peanuts anthologies from the 60s, accumulated by my mother, and Peanuts was an inextricable component of the vernacular of our family. Our language and humour was larded with references to it. There is an immortal photograph of my father in the early 70s, perched naked in a tree with his knees against his chest and his eyebrows beetling fabulously. Sometimes I worry that an anthropologist of the future will find this photograph and have no idea what he is doing up there, and there will be no-one to tell her. Naturally, he is doing an impression of Snoopy's impression of a vulture.

Linus has always been my favourite, and sometimes I wonder if my identification with him wasn't hopelessly foreordained. My mother knew she'd spawned a tiny Linus before I could even read, much less understand the comic genius of Miss Othmar and the eggshells.

Linus quotes DWMs, endures his parent's high expectations, wants to be outrageously happy when he grows up (or maybe a great philanthropist with someone else's money) yearns for love, and notes that sometimes it is easier to keep things in the language of the layman. He knows that he is never quite so stupid as when he's being smart. And in perhaps my mother's and my most favourite strip of all, his heart sarcastically bleeds for the Snicker Snack Company. Linus loves to think himself into a puddle, but he's never at all sure that he can think himself out of one. Linus, my hero.

As it happens, I wasn't thinking about Linus when I was inspecting the de rigueur chic baby section of one of the terminally tasteful homeware-vintage-beads-cards-and-Cath-Kidston type of store we have around here. It contained a selection of security blankets. Yes, indeed. Just like Linus. They were inspired. Soft and creamy coloured and with nubbly bits and fringy bits and creatures embroidered on them and really just exactly the sort of thing you'd want to wrap around your nose if you were feeling a little freaked by, oh, I don't know, life in general.

I played with them, nonchalantly not wrapping one around my nose. I cast around in my mind for likely infant suspects of my acquaintance, and came up blank. No zwanger homegirls, either. Curses! I wandered away and toyed disconsolately with silly coloured-glass candle holders and faux rustique herb pots. And then, criminally slow on the uptake for a lifelong Linus-lover, it comes to me like a snowball to the side of the head. I can have the blanket for myself.

Mock if you will. But this here Linus worshipper and stressed-out dissertation writer went to sleep twice as fast that night with her blanket wrapped tightly around her nose.


jo(e) said...

Security blankets are not just for kids ....

Xtin said...

Jo(e)! I am so pleased to see you here. And on the blanket? I am craven enough to confess that I am disproportionately relieved to know you think so. No-one will dare to challenge me with your sanction upon my (blankied-up) brow.

Phantom Scribbler said...

I have a teddy bear (well, OK, two) but I admit to coveting some of my kids' blankies. They just don't appreciate them like I would, you know?

And this is the loveliest appreciation of Linus that I've ever read. Thanks.

Scrivener said...

My kids are so deeply attached to their security blankies that I won't be the slightest bit surprised if they're either still carrying them around when they're in graduate school or they, like you, return to them about then. Who would mock you for finding that a blankie helped you get to sleep? I'm beginning to wonder if I should try one too, now.

Xtin said...

One of my working theories is Good For ScrivDaughters = Good For Me. Glad to see that I'm getting independent confirmation of same.

And PS? You're so right about the appreciation thing. Children just take their blankies terrifyingly for granted. Youth is wasted on the blankie market segment. Which is not something that GB Shaw ever said.

Chredon said...

My two teenage kids got blankets, brown with little teddy bears on them, when they were 1 and 4. Today they are 13 and 16, and sleep with them every night.