Monday, April 19, 2010
Many of you will immediately recognize the above cartoon, Family Circus, and think of its creator, Bil Keane. You will easily recognize the "Not Me" ghost pictured here. Not Me was often accompanied by his partners, I Don't Know, and Nobody. These 3 were always present at the site of broken vases, spilled juice, or after mud had been tracked into the house.
As a child, around the age of 8, I'd read Family Circus in the comic section of the Sunday paper. The bright colors of the strip, along with the guaranteed quick read in a few sentences always caught my eye, but every time I'd read it I'd think, "Lame. lame lame lame lame. Lame." I'd then announce to the closest person, sometimes to just the air, "Family Circus is so dumb." Heavy emphasis on the last letter "m," followed by an eye roll.
Last week, while at the library, my 8 year old son came across the Family Circus Treasury, the bible of Bil Keane's work. He had found it on the shelf, while looking for the cooler, hipper comics, like Foxtrot, and Calvin and Hobbes. The cool hip stuff was out, like much the rest of cool hip stuff in life is. So, he picked up the Family Circus, drawn to it by its simple white cover with a large colorful circle in the front. He had never heard of it. We took it home.
He sat on the sofa, feet up on the coffee table, flipping through the large volume quickly he pronounced it, "lame-o, lame-o, lame-o." It fell to the side of the coffee table.
I picked the heavy book up from the floor later that night, and sat and leafed through it. I began laughing. Like hard laughing. I went to show my husband. He recognized the cover, and remembered, "Oh, yeah, him. I always thought it was so dumb."
We sat together and read. And laughed. Family Circus was wasted on the foolish youth we were. We have now grown into Family Circus. It is for the parents we have now become.
Later that night while cleaning up the kitchen, my bare feet stepped on some sticky ketchup that had been left on the floor, right in front of the refrigerator, where it was visible to anyone. Anyone. "Who spilled ketchup all over the floor?!," I shouted. Boom. I had become the short black haired Mom on Family Circus. All 3 boys came running, and right on cue, they began down the line."Not me," said the oldest. "I don't know," said the middle boy, "Nobody," said the youngest.
Bil Keane, Sir, please consider this my public apology here to you, today, in front of the world. Bil Keane, you were not lame! In fact, you rocked at this parenting gig!
And to Family Circus, to quote the Na'vi in Avatar, " I see you! I see you!"
Bill Keane is now 87 years old and is happily living in Arizona, enjoying the heck out of the children of his 5 children. He has also graciously accepted my humble apology.