Monday, 18 March 2013

1980s Nostalgia: Peppermint Patty

Today I thought I would pay tribute to another of my favourite characters from Schulz's brilliant Peanuts comic strip, Peppermint Patty. As crazy as it sounds, Peppermint Patty was actually my hero for a little while, when I was about eight or nine years old. (In fact, once at school my teacher, that darned Mrs Pettingill asked us to each draw our self-portrait. I remember all the other boys and girls in the class drawing these beautiful portraits of themselves. I drew a picture of myself looking somewhat like Peppermint Patty. Loyal followers of this blog will not be surprised to learn that this led to a showdown between me and Mrs Pettingill who, as usual, failed to understand my artistic sensibilities. Then again, what did I expect from a primary school teacher who point blank refused to admit salt is sourced from seawater?)

 Looking back, I think what I loved about Peppermint Patty was that she was not a stereotyped little girl. Peppermint Patty was a tomboy, she made mistakes and was often portrayed as being lovably, foolishly human. Unlike Lucy who was crabby, Sally who was pragmatic and Marcie who was a realist, Peppermint Patty was the optimist of the female characters. (Note: by the time Peppermint Patty became a regular character, Violet and Patty had for all intents and purposes left the strip.) Often, this blind optimism could make Peppermint Patty appear quite foolish--for example, for a time she believed that Snoopy was a funny looking kid with a big nose that Charlie Brown knew and refused to accept that Snoopy was a beagle. More worrying is her crush on Charlie Brown, who she knows as "Chuck". Often the character attempts to put words into his mouth and make it appear that he is the one with a crush, however, it is obvious to readers of the comic strip that the reverse is true. Poor Charlie Brown is often left red-faced and will pretend not to understand Peppermint Patty's words. (After all, Charlie Brown's heart lies with the little red haired girl.) However, it is clear though his actions that he does like and, more importantly, respects Peppermint Patty as a friend. 

And my favourite Peppermint Patty moment? Well, that would be where she and Marcie go searching for Charlie Brown and Snoopy who have become lost in a snowstorm. Peppermint Patty has lost her shoes (as only Peppermint Patty could do such a thing during a snowstorm,) but keeps her feet warm with the pages from some old comic books. It seems (and probably is) a dumb thing to do, until it is a trail of old comic book pages that eventually reunites Charlie Brown and Snoopy with Peppermint Patty and Marcie. Together, they are all able to find their way home from the snowstorm. And you sort of get the sense that is the person Peppermint Patty is. She is equal parts loyal, deluded, honest and foolish but in the end she might just make a hero of herself.