Cocking A Snook Too!

Independent, Irreverent Unschoolers – or at least one – Take On the Universe

O Calvin My Calvin April 30, 2007

Filed under: Calvin,Connections,Edumucation,Funnies — Meredith @ 2:18 am

I am a woman obsessed. I have just discovered Calvin and Hobbes.

I cannot even articulate how this comic strip has changed my life. As Kikki once said about our beloved singer Tori Amos, “It occurs to me that she has not been in my life that long. And yet I already have no idea how I ever managed to live without her.”

Calvin is a ridiculously gifted six-year old, and, like many gifted kids, he spends a lot of time being bored by those around him. Calvin’s best friend, and the only character able to keep up with him, is Hobbes the tiger, who, though appearing as a stuffed animal to everyone else, comes deliciously alive in Calvin’s eyes.

Calvin and Hobbes is the smartest comic to ever appear in print. Calvin uses bigger words – and has bigger ideas – than half my college classmates.

In several strips Calvin builds snowmen – but, as he explains to Hobbes, these are no ordinary snowmen. In one strip, Hobbes finds Calvin building a snowman who holds a snowball in his branch of a hand. “Why is this snowman looking at a snowball?” Hobbes asks. “He’s contemplating snowman evolution. Obviously, if he evolved from a snowball, it raises tough theological questions for him.” Calvin explains. “Like the morality of throwing one’s precursors at someone?” Hobbes responds. “Sure,” says Calvin, “And what about shoveling one’s genetic material off the walk?”

But let’s put Calvin and Hobbes aside for a moment so I can tie them back in later.

Apart from introducing people to comic strips they should know, one of the funnest things about blogging, I think, is thinking up aliases for your friends and family so you can tell stories about them. For example, my friends are referred to as Jules and Kikki, my mom calls me “Favorite Daughter” and variations thereof, and I call my mom – well, my mom. Unimaginative, I know.

But today, I wanted to say something about my charming significant other, and found myself in need of a nickname. Should I call him my BF? My SO? Nothing felt right. And then it came to me, bringing with it, mercifully, an idea for a blog.

My significant other, whom I’ve decided to call Calvin (explanation to follow, be patient) had a rather rocky start to his education. At least the public school part. Let me begin by explaining that Calvin is one of the smartest people I know. Like a lot of kids who are smart and know it, Calvin spent a lot of time in school being 1) bored and 2) kind of a jerk to everyone who was less intelligent, including the teachers. He was also a very excitable and active kid, and, as near as I can tell, spent much of his childhood being scraped off the ceiling.

Through a series of murky circumstances that I characterize as the tragic misunderstanding typical of our school system and which he prefers not to talk about, he wound up in remedial classes which were little more than child warehouses. I won’t detail the horrors endured there, but the high point of his reaction to it was being sent home with a referral reading “caused a major student uprising”. Apparently (bear in mind that he was in the 6th or 7th grade) he stood up in class and protested the conditions by pointing out that they bore startling resemblance to those that led to the American Revolution. He said, and I quote: “The Declaration of Independence was not written on a cocktail napkin!” The rest of the class broke into song – Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall.” (aka “We Don’t Need No Education”)
As the song reached a crescendo – “Teacher, leave them kids alone!” – the principal walked in. “What is it now? he asked. “I’m fighting tyranny!” Calvin proclaimed.

Years away from this hellish experience and a rather less hellish high school experience, Calvin has survived, and is doing just great, and this week introduced me to his favorite comic of all time.

Say it with me: Calvin and Hobbes. And thus the blog is brought full circle.

Both the illustrated Calvin and my Calvin are smart, and both of them are jerks about it. Over at my Calvin’s house for dinner, he engaged his mom in an argument. “Now, dear,” my Calvin’s dad offered as he passed by, “you should know better than to argue. You know our son knows everything.” I’m reminded of the illustrated Calvin, when his mom catches him driving nails into her coffee table. “CALVIN! What are you DOING to the coffee table?!?” she screams. Calvin contemplates her for a moment, and responds: “Is this some sort of trick question, or what?”

But the strip in which my Calvin and the Calvin on the page truly merge is also the one that should be the comic theme of unschooling (I’ve included it at the bottom of the blog, see if you catch the metaphor). The two Calvins actually merge so seamlessly that, for a moment, I forget which it is: Do I read one because he reminds me of the other? Or do I date one because he reminds me of the other?

And then I realize that it doesn’t really matter. Because, either way, I get Calvin.

Released on: Thursday, Feb 4th 1993.
Images copyright Bill Watterson and Universal Press Syndicate.


10 Responses to “O Calvin My Calvin”

  1. penguindust Says:

    A Note About The Title:
    This comes from the Walt Whitman poem “O Captain, My Captain”.

    You may remember this poem from the movie “Dead Poets Society .” It seemed an apt title not only because of its amusing punnyness, but because my Calvin credits this movie with changing his entire worldview .
    He tells me that he was “ Alex P. Keaton ” until he wandered in on his parents watching the movie, and caught the 30 seconds in which the character Charlie “Nuwanda” Dalton says he is “exercising my right not to walk .”

    Calvin’s been a militant individual ever since.

  2. […] Can Be, Especially for Gifted Boys 30 04 2007 From unschooled Favorite Daughter’s “O Calvin My Calvin” today : Through a series of murky circumstances that I characterize as the tragic misunderstanding […]

  3. samhuh Says:

    Not entirely off topic, but not at all close either, while in Indianapolis recently we were passed by a van. The van, rather than being covered in paint as one might expect, was finished in some sort of sparkley fabric, possibly akin to velour, was black and displayed the Pink Floyd prism logo. The girls in the car with me, my wife and a couple of her derby sisters, were all amazed, pulling out cell phones in a desperate attempt to catalog the sight for future generations. Alas we did not get the picture, and I still don’t like Pink Floyd, which is even more off topic than anything else I’ve said today.

    Also, how could anyone go through life without having read the gospel of Calvin and Hobbes? I almost pity those years you were unaware. At the same time I rejoice in your discovery. Calvin, the comic book character of course, is a personal hero for me.

  4. JJ Says:

    I would just like to comment that all this worldview changing for you and your schooled friends is not happening in school or because of school assignments but practically *despite* school, out in real life and relationships, listening to music, watching movies and sharing meaningful influences between friends (none of whom you met in a classroom!) 🙂

  5. JJ Says:

    And what are derby sisters, sam, that sounds worth some blogging right there!

  6. penguindust Says:

    My Calvin actually asked the same thing – how on earth could I have existed without the Revealed Word of C&H? I don’t know, really, probably came down to timing (or a lack thereof). I wasn’t much on comics as a kid, although I was familiar with all the toons in my local paper, I read them sporadically at best, and I don’t remember Calvin and Hobbes being there.
    My Calvin discovered his cartoon counterpart, by the way, reading anthologies while his older sisters spent eternities in the dentist’s office.

  7. chrisod Says:

    My favorite Calvin strip – calvin doesn’t even appear. It’s all about his dad.

  8. samhuh Says:

    Derby sisters are the members of the roller derby league my wife skates in.

  9. Love the Dead Poet’s Society reference….”Starring a young robert sean leonard, of House MD fame..” lolz

  10. JJ Says:

    How cool and unusual is that?? Along the tangent with your delicious story about the Pink Floyd van, this is related in my mind but otherwise a stretch — FavD and I just bought the new CD by the Puppini Sisters, who sing like the Andrews Sisters from the 40s, which sounds cool and unusual when they apply it to, say, I Will Survive from the 70s. 🙂
    An anthem for derby sisters in any decade!

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