The Peanuts (as in Charlie Brown, Lucy, Peppermint Patty, Snoopy and the gang) are familiar to us all. They are complex cartoon characters to whom we have all found ourselves relating to on some level or another. Who hasn’t shared in Charlie’s insecurities? Or felt Snoopy’s indomitable strength? Well, I am here to admit that it has been suggested to me, on, um, more than one occasion, that I am the embodiment of one of Mr. Schulz’s beloved (there’s my silver lining) characters…and it isn’t Frieda (who Wikipedia describes as “the girl with the naturally curly hair” which, as you know, I have). No, it is Pigpen. (Yeah, I’ve never heard of Frieda, either.)
Further described by Wikipedia:
Pigpen is known for his perpetually filthy overalls and the cloud of dirt and dust that follows him wherever he goes. He cannot seem to rid himself of the dust for more than the briefest of periods–indeed, in spite of his best efforts, it appears that he cannot stay clean. He is referred to in an early strip as the only person who can get dirty while walking in a snowstorm.
Now, I am known neither for my overalls (shut up…everyone wore them when they were pregnant!) nor for being particularly dirty, but that “cloud” that hovers amid his person, following his every step, is more along the lines of what I think folks are referring to. (At least I hope it is.) I have been called a lot of things over the years but this one is perhaps the most appropriate in a crazy-ass sort of way. Truly, despite my best efforts, I simply cannot steer clear and stay “clean”.
We all face problems, issues and upsets in our lives. We all deal with unexpected situations and find ourselves in pickles that we never predicted, but I have to admit that it does seem that I tend to be in them more often than the average bear. I also have noticed that I somehow manage to come out on the other end okay…most of the time. That damn cloud does, however, seem to follow me.
The past ten years have been particularly ridiculous for me and (sometimes because of and sometimes by default) my family. Apparently freakish, unusual and highly unexpected experiences are deemed by the big guy upstairs to not be more than I can handle, yet I will admit that there are definitely times (like this weekend, for instance) that I seriously wonder if there is a hidden camera being used by a documentarian somewhere capturing every insane moment for a film which is “based on a true story”. And if there is, can the film be destroyed so we can start over?
A sampling of just a few of the downright frightening health scares I have had; do you know anyone (other than me, three days before Harrison’s Bar Mitzvah) who gets a tumor in their foot which is inoperable unless I want to have it amputated…the foot, that is? If so, has that somebody done so within a few short years of having had breast cancer which therefore provided perfect breeding ground for the doctors to become hysterical? And I’ve heard of needing two surgeries for back issues, but three in six weeks? Who else can say that they had a lipoma in their back the size of a large grapefruit? Anyone else have clusters of half a dozen warts on each and every finger? (Okay, in fairness, that happened when I was a kid, but it still happened to me!) You get the picture. And, remember, that was just a sampling.
But it is not just medical stuff: I am the person who gets physically rear-ended (as in literally…into my butt, not in a car) in the middle of Best Buy by a kid pushing a large screen t.v. across the store. It is I who has managed to dent two of the cars that we own in one fell swoop. Twice. In as many days. And the one time in the history of civilization that a dental x-ray machine inexplicably tore from the wall so that it could land on someone’s face? Yep, that was me.
During the course of contemplating my life as well as my affiliation with Pigpen I visited www.peanuts.com to learn a little bit more about the inner workings of my apparent doppelgänger and to attempt to gain some insight into what might lay ahead for me. (Seriously pathetic, I know, but I am on some very tentative ground these days…) Their explanation of his character actually made me feel better about the grubby little guy:
Happily traveling in his own private dust storm, Pigpen is completely comfortable in his own (dust-streaked) skin. Despite his outward appearance, he always carries himself with dignity, knowing full well that he has affixed to him the “dust of countless ages.
I am not sure that I would avow to happily traveling in my dust storm (plus I prefer to call it a shit storm) yet here I am, hoping that I am doing Pigpen’s legacy proud and am honoring the grace in which he was created; that I am managing (even if just for show) to be comfortable in my own skin and to carry myself with dignity in spite of that cloud hovering overhead.
Given my track record, it really should not have come as much of a surprise when my quirky child proved to be even quirkier than we thought. It all adds up in the scheme of how things go in my life (not to make this about me, but…oh, who am I kidding? This is about me.) It is just another entry in the game of life which circles around each of us, some more cleanly than others. I am indeed Pigpen, but only (hopefully) the endearing, lovable parts of him. Not only am I more than likely to get dirty while walking in a snowstorm, but I will also be the person who slips and throws out her back in the process. But, I somehow, miraculously, come out okay. Eventually.
So off I go now to blanket myself in Bubblewrap and shut my brain down as I was recently instructed by my doctor (post x-ray machine mishap) to lay low and to avoid heavy thinking. I may even forgo the shower I was contemplating. I am pretty confident that is how Pigpen would want it.