Don’t Be a Victim Charlie Brown

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*Three things that you should know before you proceed:  First, this isn’t for those of you with Charlie Brown collectibles.  Believe me, you just won’t get it and you may feel a little judged.  Secondly, I consider Charlie Brown to be a poor role model but a great confirmation of valuable life lessons! Third, I still get the same goofy grin on my face when ABC announces the holiday line up and I will continue to watch (so should you).   If you’re still interested, come with me:

CHARLIE BROWN IS A PROBLEM!

It feels good to get that off my chest.  After burying this blog piece deep in the draft bin for months I now feel removed enough from sappy holiday emotions to say what’s on my mind.

So here we go, four lessons that are validated through the life of Charlie Brown:

1) Mediocrity is a choice and a direct connection to self esteem.  This is demonstrated multiple times during It’s The Great Pumpkin…no less than when Charlie Brown chooses to attend Violet’s Halloween party after being told he was accidentally invited (Lucy informs him that he was on the “don’t invite” list).  Hs lack of self esteem ironically doesn’t allow him to protect himself from the poor treatment issued by others but instead leads him to walk right into their path, seeking acceptance from people who may not even deserve his friendship.  He’s willing to accept the bare minimum from other people.  Even worse, he shows his willingness to just get by in his costume selection; selecting the easiest costume, screwing it up and refusing to start from scratch. Now you’re the “ghost” with 18 eyeholes.  Oh, if only Mr. Schulz had written in an invisibility option, it would have been a better choice.

2) When people show you who they are, believe them!  In the comic strip and during various specials Lucy clearly demonstrates that her entire mission in life is to be Ol’ Chuck’s foil.  His weakness is the exact opposite of the rule; he believes that when Lucy treats him poorly that this is the exception to whom she really is.  He can’t reconcile that she loves to see him down!  Whether it’s after his fake out during the placekick or when she’s charging him 5 cents to degrade him at her booth (he pays a person who clearly doesn’t like him to give him advice), his failure is her success! In the off chance that Lucy decides to throw Charlie a bone and show him a little kindness she makes sure that she reminds him of all of his faults only seconds later.  Even when people lie their consistent actions tell the truth about who they are—believe them!

3) You are the company you keep.   I don’t have a particular gripe against Linus.  Let’s face it, he’s dealing with issues that are deep, considering that he has absentee parents and is left to be ignored by his abusive sister with his only comfort being his blanket and his spineless best friend.  Put all of that aside and focus on the greater problem, yep, you guessed it, Charlie Brown!  He is clearly older than Linus with their only commonality being that they have no show of force.  Why does he choose to spend all of his valuable free time with Linus?  We could say it’s his chance to assert himself and be the leader or we could refer back to Lesson #1.  Charlie has access to a creative and assertive ally in his dog Snoopy, however, man’s best friend must have heard rule #3 because he seeks his companionship with those more closely aligned with his perceived station or higher (he often is the most intelligent of the humans he emulates).

When individuals that are crafty and creative attempt to get closer to him–ahem Peppermint Patty–he is clearly disturbed by it.  C’mon a chick that could get people to call her “sir” in the 1950’s is most obviously a boss!  He could use a little of her chutzpah.  Schroeder is a creative genius but he doesn’t want the taint of association with Charlie. Would anyone have taken Mozart seriously if he schlepped around with a thumb sucking, blanket toting friend and a prematurely bald whiner?

4) You teach people how to treat you.  This is along the lines of rule #2. In the somewhat obscure You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown,  Lucy snatches the football out of Charlie’s path twice!  She asked him twice because she knew she could and that he would.  During the process of this humiliation, Peppermint Patty hits Chuck up for cash, inviting him to participate in a bike race with the winning prize being Pro Bowl tickets that “she has won”.  He ultimately wins the race and the prize which turns out to be 5 free haircuts (little known fact-his dad is a barber, obvious fact–he has no hair).  Bottom line, he is the easiest target because he is a willing target.

I could have written an article about Chuck’s eternal optimism, belief in the human race, and acceptance of others but those lessons have been opined before I’m sure.  As entertainment value and purposeful avoidance of Lesson #1 this was a much better approach for me.

To leave on a positive note,  when Charlie wins the bike race and is disappointed with his reward, Linus removes his thumb from his mouth for some interesting words of wisdom reminding him that, ‘winning against overwhelming odds is much more important than the reward at the end’.

Although as a saleswoman I might take issue with that statement too.

Barista, Therapist, Friend

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It’s cliché, I know, a blogger who hangs out in coffee shops, but I confess that not only do I hang out at my local purveyor of chai and lattes, I actually have an emotional girl crush on my barista.

Her name is Maureen, and she is the proverbial “fiery redhead”.  Sure, Maureen has the ability to provide me with chai that has  just the right balance of spicy, creamy flavor but this has now been proven to be the least of her virtues.  The depth of her value is actually the equivalent of a great hairstylist, you know, the one that keeps you talking for your entire two-hour appointment.  In his past life Dr. Phil was Maureen and that’s the only reason he is so good today.  Snarky but helpfully direct, deep but irreverent and painfully honest while being informative, this woman has talked me off the ledge more than once.

A few mornings ago, following a particularly enraging day with a new boss, I knew that a trip to Starbucks would be a necessity before I went back to the office. Maureen asked how things were going and although I’d like to blame it on a caffeine induced meltdown, I honestly was just happy that someone asked and told her the truth.  For lack of better terms I vomited my pain all over her serviceably understandable crocs (please ignore the only time that you will see me validate the existence of Crocs).

No need to get too detailed about what was said, all you need to know is that her best advice boiled down to  ‘It’s important to teach people perspective.  Walk into his office and take him on a little journey back to the moment that you both experienced but make sure that he understands that you are switching roles.  He needs to understand what your feeling was in that moment.’

I know, it sounds emotional and schmary but the way that she delivered it was straight forward, no smile.  It was pure confrontation and a directive to BE BRAVE and KNOW YOUR VALUE.  Bottom line, it worked and as I move forward to my new position with another company, the only thing I regret is leaving my Barista.   Where the hell am I gonna find a therapist that charges $4.85 a session?