The Conversation

I Should Have Paid More Attention to Peanuts

I was drinking with a buddy of mine - we're about the same age (closing in on 50) and we started talking about the first thing we ever read.

It was the Sunday comics. But mainly, it was Peanuts.

Peanuts, whether you knew it or not, pretty much shaped the way you saw the world, when you were a kid. It was a good thing.

But when we talked about the soiled, dusty character known as Pigpen, I realized how I had missed THAT STORY. Pigpen. His parents didn't care.

We all read Peanuts, but none of us asked: why was Pigpen dirty? Neglect.

Pigpen's story is a story of abandonment. While all the other kids were doing stuff, he was wandering in parking lots. He was the dirty kid no one kept an eye on.

Charles Schulz was telling us something and we missed it. Completely.

We lauded The Wire for telling the same message in season four. Dukie Weems was teased and bullied for his body odor and his crappy clothes at his middle school - his lifestyle a product of a horrible home life created by parental drug addictions and incarcerations. It was emotionally horrifying to see his life unfold.

But Schulz was there first - before the Wire, and before Breaking Bad too. Remember  in Season 2, episode six, the poor dirty redheaded kid that Jesse finds in that dilapidated house where the kids meth head parents left him to fend for himself? That was a Pigpen. There are shitloads of Pigpens.

Schulz was prescient in his creation, sadly.

And it makes me remember that in my school, there was a Pigpen there too. How did I miss that, as well?


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