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Toxic People

Like every baby boomer I know, I grew up watching Charles Schultz’ “Peanuts” characters come to life on television. Schulz had a knack for bringing universal human tendencies to light via his lovable cartoon characters. Linus is the blanket-carrying insecure person, Lucy controlling and deceitful, Charlie Brown the consummate loser and Snoopy the personification of cool. But my favorite character is Pig Pen.


The Wizard

If you grew up in the 1960s, it was almost a requirement to watch the annual showing of "The Wizard of Oz" with your family. As exciting as Dorothy and Toto's yellow-bricked journey to Oz was to me, I thought there were two serious flaws in the movie. First, the flying monkeys regressed my toilet training a good two years.  Secondly, the movie's ending was lamer than Raymond Burr on "Ironside."


Someone Else’s Life

Edna’s son, Bobby, is 14. He’s not a bad kid by any stretch of the imagination. He’s never been in trouble in school or with the law. He is kind and polite to others. He is unusually honest and trustworthy for a boy his age, but there is one part of Bobby’s behavior that has Edna completely out of sorts and sitting on my couch. Bobby is an underachiever. He’s not failing any of his classes, nor has he ever. It’s clear, however, that Bobby is uninspired by academic life and skates by doing as little as possible. Edna, God bless her, has her sights on much loftier careers for her son than Bobby seems to be aiming towards himself. Edna has hired tutors and psychologists. She has tried lecturing, guilt-tripping, and privilege-removing. In a weak moment of desperation, she has even had Bobby’s palm read to get the inside scoop on his future. So what’s the harm in Edna’s efforts? Probably nothing with a horrible or permanent outcome. But the problem is this--despite Bobby’s periodic half-hearted attempts to appease his mother, he is still underachieving.

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