I like Mr. Peanut. Maybe it is the constant smile. Sometimes I think it is the monocle. Perhaps it is his attitude which allows him to roam the streets wearing only a top hat, gloves and spats as if to say “here’s what I’ve got and I’m not ashamed.”
It’s hard to know exactly what has endeared him to us. Charm is indefinable sometimes, isn’t it?
Sometimes charm and a perpetual smile hide something. A secret something that causes pain and fear. Though none of us want to think about Mr. Peanut suffering, I must tell you that I see pain behind the monocle.
That’s Just The Way It Is
Mr. Peanut’s body has a flaw. Yeah, I know – glass houses, stones. My body is flawed too, I’ll admit that. Isn’t everyone’s? Some flaws aren’t attractive, some flaws are not healthy. Mr. Peanut’s flaw is dangerous to him and to those around him.
Mr. Peanut has no waist. Maybe you don’t see that as a serious matter, but it is a huge problem. A fall could cost him his life.
He’s got ankles, knees and hips. No waist. The shape of his shellbody gives the appearance of a waist (oddly combined with neck and shoulders), but the term waist implies a measure of flexibility that Mr. Peanut lacks. That lack of flexibility is the potentially fatal flaw that Mr. Peanut lives with.
Sure, Mr. Peanut is mobile. He dances and he plays basketball. But he participates in these activities at his own peril. Should he lose his balance, his lack of a waist makes him unable to get up without assistance.
Consider The Turtle
A turtle flipped on his back is in trouble. He can’t get away from predators and his defenses are weak. He is powerless to get back on his feet without help. He’ll kick his feet desperately to try to get back to right side up, but he’s probably not going to make it.
Mr. Peanut is like our turtle. Once off his feet, he can’t get off the ground without aid. He is helpless and vulnerable.
If you fell and were lying on your back, your waist and hips would let you move to a sitting position and get up from there. Mr. Peanut isn’t able to do that. Sitting up by using just his hips would be impossible.
I’ve discussed this with people who argued that Mr. Peanut could roll over and get on all fours, as if to crawl. From there, they claim, he could move his foot up and raise his body upright just like we’d do. This is a fallacy.
The length of his torso combined with its circumference make that feat impossible. As Mr. P moved his leg forward to get up, the length and thickness of his body would cause his hands to come off the ground before his foot could reach a position to start supporting his weight. Even if he got his leg under him, he’d have to raise his disproportionately long body using just his hips – not a particularly strong point of his physique.
How You Can Help
When Mr. Peanut falls, he has two options. He can crawl until he finds help or he can flail wildly with his cane and hope to make enough noise that a sympathetic someone discovers his plight. If you become that someone, remember that communication is critical if you’re going to help.
If Mr. Peanut is crawling, he has a limited range of motion in his neck and can’t lift his head to see where he is going. He might even crawl into you before he realizes you are there. On his back, he’ll probably be blinded by panic and swinging his cane. In either case, use your voice to take control of the situation.
This is important – if you see Mr. Peanut off his feet, do not approach him until he responds to your voice. He’ll feel frightened and vulnerable. That makes him likely to lash out with his cane without warning. You can’t help him if you allow him to injure you during your noble attempt to help.
Call out to him from a safe distance: “Mr. Peanut, I am here to help, please take some deep breaths and stop moving so I can assist you.” Continue repeating this until he complies with your request.
Folks who care about Mr. P (are you one of them?) practice saying that sentence aloud. They want to be comfortable delivering it if they find him in dire circumstances.
Only after Mr. Peanut has acknowledged you and gathered his emotions should you approach him and render aid. Continue speaking with him as you help. This would be a good time to tell him your name. Explain how you’re going to help him up and listen if he suggests other ways to do it – he has been in this situation before.
Remember as you help Mr. Peanut up – always lift with your legs and not your back!
Some Last Thoughts
Don’t just walk away. Like anyone else would be, Mr. Peanut will probably feel shaken and embarrassed by his ordeal. He’ll likely appreciate you taking a moment to reassure him.
You’ll want to help him get his hat and cane. Don’t let him bend over and get them himself, that could lead to another fall. Brushing dust and debris off his back would also be appropriate. Like us, Mr. Peanut can’t really see back there and it is hard for him to reach his back.
Being Mr. Peanut is not easy. It is often a lonely existence, made more difficult by a flaw that his pride tells him to hide from us.
A little kindness on your part would make such a difference.
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