Peanuts creator Charles Schulz’s secret love letters to Tracey Claudius, a woman 23 years his junior who was not his wife, are now on sale at Sotheby’s. The cache, according to the Associated Press, includes “dozens of romantic letters and drawings of his beloved cartoon characters.” And numerous strips that actually made it into print reflect the themes of his private missives. At one point in the strip (after Schulz’s wife had caught him making long-distance phone calls) Charlie Brown yells at Snoopy for paying too much attention to “that girl beagle” and yells, “And stop making those long-distance phone calls.”
I combed through my collection of classic Peanuts strips to see what other clues there were. Here are some other strips, that, in retrospect, should have set off some alarms.
• The one where Linus’s blanket comes home late and, when Linus asks where it has been, stammers something unconvincing about a “blanket trade conference.”
• The one where Charlie Brown visits Lucy’s psychiatric help stand and just stands there silently for a long time and finally says, “Do you think monogamy is possible for humans, given how we’re wired?”
• The one where Lucy is holding divorce papers instead of a football, but keeps yanking them away whenever Charlie Brown runs closer.
• The one where the World War I Flying Ace gets drunk and refuses to fly back to his dog house, shouting, “That isn’t my home! It’s a prison, a prison built of lies!”
• The one where Snoopy starts a novel and the first words are, “John knew his marriage was a lie,” and then Woodstock tweets something incomprehensible and Snoopy responds, “You’re right, I’ll save that for the memoir.”
• The one where Peppermint Patty falls asleep in class and starts shouting, “Tracey! Tracey, I love you! Tracey, do you hear me, I love you?” until Marcy gets her to stop.
• The one where the Great Pumpkin shows up and it’s just a beautifully rendered drawing of Tracey Claudius’s face.
• The one where Schroeder is playing piano, the phone starts ringing, Lucy goes to answer it, and Schroeder shouts, “NO WAIT, DON’T ANSWER THAT” and gets jumpy and defensive.
• The one where Linus takes the stage at the Christmas pageant and recites a long passage from the Old Testament against adultery.