If you’ve ever wondered what happened to Lucy Van Pelt of “Peanuts” fame, you’ve come to the right place. If the topic never concerned you, well, maybe you’ll stumble across the subject in a late-night, free-wheeling Trivia game, and you can impress your friends.
Young Lucy’s business model mirrored Lincoln’s reflection on the legal profession- her time and advice were her stock in trade. Children from all over the neighborhood sought her counsel on a wide variety of topics, from matters of the heart to fashion, and from baseball strategies to the mechanics of kicking a football. She was a self-proclaimed expert on everything and with her arrogant personality, her advice often came across as commands. Abrasive, insensitive, and pushy, Lucy was an easy person to dislike.
But, alas, we all grow up. During her high school years, she was derisively referred to as “Little Miss Know It All”. As a child, she dominated her world by the sheer force of her bold personality, but as her friends matured and their self-confidence grew, their feelings of resentment toward the one-time “Queen of the Hill” exploded. Lucy had no friends.
Although Charlie Brown, her favorite punching bag, had broken free of her control, he retained the heart of a child and took pity.
“You need to lighten up, Lucy. Kids don’t like to be told what to do.”
Lucy reflected on Charlie Brown’s words and recognized the errors of her ways. With great effort, she managed to escape her air of superiority, stopped telling people what to do, and for the first time in her life, tried to make friends. But it was too late. Her reputation had solidified the opinions of all who knew her.
If a change in Lucy had not brought about the desired results, perhaps a change of scenery would. She left her sad and lonely world behind as she headed off to an out-of-state college where a fresh start awaited her. As her mean, selfish character was known throughout the world, Lucy altered her appearance to conceal her true identity. She dyed her hair a light brown, got a pixie cut, and wore glasses, all in the hope that the image of the nasty, overbearing girl would be forever buried. The final layer of subterfuge- she called herself Lucille.
“Lucille, do you want the top or lower bunk?”
“You take your pick. It doesn’t matter to me, Kate. Whatever would make you feel more comfortable.”
“Lucille, where should we put the mini-fridge?”
“Wherever you think, Kate.”
Lucy, now known as Lucille, was out of the advice business. The former bossy scourge of the neighborhood had become a meek wallflower in the hopes of being liked and having friends. She was the ultimate “yes girl”, unwilling to issue a directive or even offer an opinion.
“Pepperoni or sausage?”
“Movie or bowling?”
“Miller or Coors?”
It was working. Her roommate liked her. The other girls in the dorm liked her. The professors and students in her classes like her. Guys were asking her out. Humility and deference to others breed fondness.
But as every fan of a good Western gunfighter movie knows, you can’t run away from your past. Shane knew it; J.B. Books knew it; William Munny knew it; and Joe Kidd knew it. Lucy was about to find out.
“I think I’ve seen you before, Lucille. Have we ever met?”
“I don’t believe so.”
“Lucille, I swear I know you from somewhere. Your face just seems so familiar.”
Lucy was getting nervous. Everything was going so well. Should her true identity be revealed, it could all unravel. Superman knew it; Batman knew it; Zorro knew it; and Mrs. Doubtfire knew it. Lucy dreaded it.
Lucy had just showered. Her hair was disheveled, no makeup, no glasses. The light of the setting sun through the window caught her profile just right. Kate knew.
“Lucille! I know who you are!”
Lucy’s heart sank.
“You’re Lucy from the Peanuts comic strip!”
The arrow had been launched. Lucy tightened up, closed her eyes, and awaited its arrival, preparing for Kate to turn on her, to level a barrage of unkind, hurtful comments for the person she had been. But the arrow never landed.
“This is so cool! You are her, aren’t you?!”
The lack of a response told Kate she was correct in her startling discovery. Lucy stood in shock and fear, but the reaction wasn’t what she expected.
“I’m living with a famous person! Why didn’t you tell me?! This is so exciting!”
Lucy had misjudged the mindset of today’s college student. Famous was good, in and of itself, and it mattered little how a person became famous. Paris Hilton knew it; the Kardashians knew it; Stormy Daniels knew it; and Honey Boo Boo knew it. Lucy was about to discover it.
The word spread across campus like wildfire. An international celebrity was living in their midst. Lucy was a distraction in the classroom, a topic of conversation in the dorms, a welcome visitor in the fraternity houses, and all eyes were upon her in the dining hall. She instantly became more popular than the quarterback on the football team. The sheer power of celebrity overshadowed any possible negative reactions due to her behavior in her former life.
Lucy was happy. She had friends. She was doing well in her classes. The good times blinded her to the clouds gathering on the horizon.
Her miserable personality may have been forgotten, or at least overlooked, but soon talk on campus swirled about her former role of advisor to all. The college years are full of uncertainties, insecurities, and doubt, and students are forever seeking advice, direction, and counseling. And now one of the most well-known counselors in the history of troubled youth walked amongst them. Lucy should have known the day would cone.
“Lucille, I can’t decide. The blue skirt or the black jeans? What do you think?”
Lucy tensed up. She didn’t want to answer. She was like the boxer who vowed to never fight again after killing a guy in the ring. Her overzealous penchant for telling people what to do had made a shambles of her life, leaving her alone and friendless. She vowed she would never advise again.
“Lucille? What do you think?”
Lucy knew the blue skirt was perfect for the event and nicely complimented Kate’s deep blue eyes. Kate was her friend. She should help her. She resisted. She had sworn off giving advice forever … but, maybe just this one time would be alright.
“Kate, it has to be the blue skirt … and I would add your red scarf ribbon.”
Lucy’s selections were spot-on. Kate received compliments all night long on her attire.
“Oh, thank you, Lucille. You really made my night.”
Lucy felt the beginning tremblings, the first crack in the dike. Could she stop at just one?
Word spread … again. At first, it was just residents in her dorm, but soon girls from throughout the college were seeking the advice of the fashion mentor. Her stamp of approval became more important than the label itself. “Approved by Lucille” trumped “Designed by Vuitton”. Lucy tried to stop, but it was too late.
And then the men came calling.
“What do you think, Lucille?”
“The shoes and shirt ... okay. Forget the shades, shorten the chain, and open the top button. Next!”
It take didn’t long. Ardent Peanuts fans remembered that Lucy, their Lucille, was well-qualified to offer advice on more than fashion.
“I’m an English major, and I need one more science credit to graduate. I’m looking at Stars 2, Rocks 1, or Chem 1. What do you think?”
“Your math SAT?”
“Rocks 2. Too much math in Astronomy and Chemistry. Next!”
Lucille was now mentoring in multiple fields of the human experience, and Kate saw the potential.
“You’ve got to start charging, Lucille, or can I call you Lucy?”
It hit her hard. She had been in denial throughout her relapse, but now she knew. She was Lucy. The monster within had emerged and had taken control.
“I am Lucy.”
Lucy’s smile was near demonic as she and Kate worked through the night preparing brochures, business cards, and advertising signs. It was agreed that Kate would take a straight 20% for marketing, advertising, and promotions and that all hands-on mentoring would be left to Lucy. On a weekend visit, her Dad hauled up her old ‘Advice Booth’. Lucy was back in the saddle.
“There, a little touch-up paint and your stand looks like new, but you can’t be charging five cents anymore. Your advice is too valuable. I’d say $5.00 … minimum.”
“I like the idea of a flat fee, no surprises, no add-ons, no frills That always worked for me.”
Kate put up handbills all over campus:
Mentoring Services- Five Bucks
Got troubles? Bring them to the 'Problem Whisperer’
-Matters of the heart.
-Course selection/class work.
-Health (Includes mental health).
-Problems with parents.
-Problems with roommate.
-Anything not listed above.
-Hours: M-W-F Noon to 3:00 PM 5-minute session limit Campus Green
The enterprise went well … at first. The “new” Lucy handled questions with understanding, tact, and compassion.
“I don’t know what to do. My boyfriend back home keeps promising to come for a visit, but then he never does. It’s very frustrating, Lucy.”
“Long distance relationships are hard on both parties, Margaret. I suggest you be patient and give it some time. What’s meant to be is what is meant to be. Focus on your studies and your new friends here … and relax. That will be five bucks. You can pay at the next table.”
“I like my roommate, but she’s kind of a slob, Lucy. I’m tired of seeing dirty socks and sweatpants on the floor, but I don’t want to offend her.”
“It’s a new world for her, Sandy. Maybe her mom was always picking up after her at home. I suggest you clean up after her for a while. I think she’ll get the idea. In the meantime, remember that tolerance is one of the seven blessed virtues. You might also consider both of you coming in together, sort of a couples counseling session. We offer a special on couples sessions- nine bucks and you get a complimentary water bottle with my picture on it. That will be five bucks. You can pay at the next table.”
“Lucy, my quarterback has a bum leg, and his backup is out with the flu. What do I do this Saturday?”
“Focus on your running game, Coach, and keep your quarterback in the pocket when you have to pass … and bring in an extra tight end to protect his blind side. That will be five bucks. You can pay at the next table. Oh, and I could use a couple of tickets for the game.”
“Of course, Lucy.”
But just as an old paint color can seep through a new cover coat of a different color, Lucy’s old personality eventually reared its ugly head. It was inevitable.
“I’m taking my girlfriend out to dinner at a nice restaurant, Lucy, and I want to look my best. Which tie do you think goes best with this shirt?”
“That shirt? You’ve got to be freaking kidding me. What, did your grandpa dust off one of his old shirts and lend it to you for the evening? Burn that ugly thing before anyone else has to see it. How the hell did you get a girlfriend in the first place? That will be five bucks. You can pay at the next table.”
“Lucy, my heart is broken. My girlfriend was out with another guy. I think… I think they even spent the night together!”
“Stop your crying, you little wimp. What makes you think you’re so special? I can see why she’d want to get away from you. And there are thousands of young women on this campus. Man up and go find yourself one. That will be five bucks. You can pay at the next table.”
“Lucy, my best friend’s ex-boyfriend just asked me out. I really like the guy, but I think that would upset my friend. What do I do?”
“Who cares? But if you’re so worried about it, can’t you just sneak it? And just looking at you, I’m guessing you don’t have a lot of gentlemen callers so you should probably grab hold of this guy and thank God someone finds you attractive. That will be five bucks. You can pay at the next table.”
Word spread … again. Lucy’s old abrasive style drove customers to the regular college-sponsored counseling services. Business slowed to a trickle and then stopped. Vandals spray-painted offensive language and obscene drawings on her mentoring stand. Lucy was once again without friends. Even her roommate Kate abandoned her and started sleeping in her car.
Sitting alone in a darkened corner of her room, a tearful Lucy turned to her last hope. She picked up her phone and called good old Charlie Brown.
“I screwed up again, Charlie Brown.”
“Yeah, it’s all over the Internet.”
“Do you hate me, too?”
“Of course not.”
‘Do you like me?”
“Well, I wouldn’t go that far. So, you couldn’t give up telling everyone else what to do?”
“I tried, but I couldn’t do it. It’s like some kind of an addiction. I can’t stop telling people what to do, and I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but I guess I can be a little abrasive when I’m doing it.”
“Really? I never would have guessed.”
“I’ll never fit in, Charlie Brown. What do I do?”
The irony of the world-renowned and notoriously offensive mentor, who had mercilessly tormented him throughout his childhood, now seeking his advice, did not escape him. But he was, in the final analysis, good old Charlie Brown.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself, Lucy. You are who you are. We just need to find the right place for you. Surely there’s a niche out there for an arrogant, obnoxious, loudmouth young woman like you.”
“Do you really think so?”
“Of course, Lucy.”
“Thanks, Charlie Brown. I feel better already.”
“Hey, Linus! It’s me, Charlie Brown.”
“Hello, Charlie Brown. Nice to see you.”
“Linus, I haven’t heard from your sister, Lucy, for years. How’s she doing?”
“She’s doing great. She’s got an important job with a big company.”
“Really? What does she do?”
“She’s in charge of Customer Relations for AT&T. She says she loves it.”
Charlie Brown could only smile.
“I’ll bet she does.”