Even Charlie Brown forges ahead


I have a Charlie Brown complex.
Actually, all the girls in my family would say I have a Lucy complex, but let’s not open that can of worms on a Sunday morning.
I get in these moods. I suppose we all do, but mine come in waves.
We all know Charlie Brown, that kid with the one hair curled in the front who hid it with a big baseball hat and an even bigger glove? I’ve actually thought about trying to find that yellow shirt with the black zigzag and some brown cheerleader shoes.
He couldn’t get the fastball by anyone. What a loser.
Well, my complex runs a bit deeper. Sorry Mike, you don’t get to bill me for this one.
Something can come along that knocks me into the toilet. I’ll try to talk to Lee or Taylor or get caught up in a lengthy message thread with someone who’s trying to give sage advice. They pick up that I’m in a mood.
"Are you crabby?” No
“Are you mad?” No.
“Did I say something” No!
“Are you feeling sullen and morose?” – How dare you!
Sometimes you’re just looking for that nickel’s worth of pick-me-up to break out of the cycle.
I usually take off for my brother’s house. If you can’t find something to laugh about there, you need medication…or Mike Maher.
I keep telling them they should put cameras up in their house and create a YouTube page and just let people see it raw. You wouldn’t even have to charge. They would be YouTube phenoms in about three months.
But Natalie and Hayden are weeks away from leaving for school, so they missed their chance at superstardom and riches. Hayden has this little stanky leg thing he does that cracks me up. I think it would be akin to Arnold’s “Whatchoo talkin’ ‘bout Willis”.
But the complex is really oxymoronic, because I put this column out every week for people to read. Charlie Brown never thought anything he did was good enough. I’m sure there’s a psychological term with a whole bunch of letters that ends with “Syndrome” like Charlieburgers Syndrome” (And if that ain’t real, it should be).
No matter how bad you think it is, you keep trying and trying and trying until you convince yourself that maybe it isn’t that bad. When the hell does THAT day come?
Every week I tell the mad scientist that the BtP is done.
“I don’t like it”, I tell her.
She doesn’t even respond anymore.  I’m not joking…crickets.
This is Lee, and she’s the owner of the damned company. She can have an opinion. So when I write a weekly column and I say it’s not good, I’m not fishing for a compliment. I don’t like it.
But then people stop me in the park, or at the grocery store, or send me a text.
"Great read.”
“Well said.”
That’s really all it’s about. It really is. We don’t charge for subscriptions so I’m not hoping it generates cash. I really want to genuinely make people happy. And sometimes I don’t think I’m very good at it and that creates doubt and pressure and self-deprecation.
Then someone stops you after an assignment while walking to your car and says this.
“Hey, I really liked your piece ‘You can’t rub dirt on mental illness’, after I read that I went back to counseling and it's helping.”
That’s getting to kick the football, and getting a strikeout.
I was writing a story on the motorcycle club Adam Benda’s in about four years ago and went to their ‘pad’. These were big guys and they were pretty intimidating. As I waited for them to get together for a group interview, one of the guys showed me a picture on the wall of Charlie Brown. But it was “Rambo” Charlie Brown tattered and torn with a sinewy Beagle at his side that had been through it all with him. He hung his head, but was fresh from the war.
That picture has stuck with me ever since. I think I want one.
No matter how bad we think things are - we forge ahead. We do get the fastball by, we do get to kick the football, we win the essay contest… and 'hopefully' we get the girl - (Good grief!)
I think even Charlie Brown knew that – But that’s Beside the Point.
Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at

Beside the Point, editorial, opinion, column, Fort Madison, Pen City Current, Charlie Brown, Sunday, courage, Chuck Vandenberg,


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