A woman on the bus line last night at Gate 224 was wearing a T-shirt that said “Living the Dream.”
It struck me as odd, but not because she looked unhappy. She actually looked quite happy. She was dark-skinned woman–perhaps Indian, but I couldn’t be sure–huddled in line with what looked like her two teenage or young adult sons. They gave off the air of tourists.
I guess I never associated Snoopy and Woodstock or Peanuts in general with sales pitches for a good life. Is the T-shirt meant to be ironic? If so, that makes it worse. I never viewed the Peanuts gang as an ironic sort. they were very real to me growing up, flesh and blood (albeit animated) children and animals that had something important to say, but not the trite “Living the Dream.”
It’s possible I’m reading too deeply into this. Maybe it’s meant to be a sweet and simple message, to say that “the good life” can be accomplished by not striving for more, but by simply being who we are: like Snoopy is on his doghouse with Woodstock fluttering overhead. Lovely.
Or are they trying to shove something down our throats. Enforced happiness? Is the T-shirt saying, if you can’t be happy as you are no matter how miserable you might be and what circumstances you are living under, get bent?
I’m not naive. I know there is a whole line of Peanuts merchandise–greeting cards, stuffed animals, mugs, T-shirts, sleepwear–but this particular T-shirt unsettled me. Perhaps it reminded me of the scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas when Charlie Brown is crestfallen after seeing how even his dog has gone the way of commercialism by gaudily decorating his doghouse.
In retrospect, I see Charlie Brown as an undiagnosed depressive, and I can relate to that. Growing up, Mom would say I was “withdrawn” and use other words to explain away my behavior. But I think it was melancholia; even a teacher used that word to describe me. At the time I thought melancholia was a result of my “humors” being out of balance, and that I might need a blood-letting, so I was scared: the four humors being black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood. I must have had an excess of black bile. Anyway, I am getting off topic here.
Back to the T-shirt. I guess it’s not doing anyone harm, but I still don’t understand it.