Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Susie Derkins Decoded" Guest Post by Meghana Lawate

I’ll try to keep this post as simple as possible. Well I’m one of those in love with secondary characters type persons. I’ve always been drawn to the sidekick or any of the “non hero” characters in a book or comic. I love Obelix more than Asterix or that I love Captain Haddock more than Tin Tin, or that I love Ron and Hermione, Fred and George and pretty much every other character than Harry. I really am rarely drawn to the hero/heroine, at least in most cases.  I like Joker more than Batman but that’s a moot point because who doesn’t? and Aisha Banerjee more than Sid from Wake up Sid.

So when I first read Calvin and Hobbes I was really drawn to Susie Derkins, to most people Susie Derkins in just another character like Calvin’s parents or that big bully in school (Moe) or Calvin’s teacher (Mrs Wormwood)... But as I think more about Susie the more it makes me appreciate her. For one, Susie Derkins is very normal, she is a little girl who likes to play with her toys, study in school, and she lives in her own world. What makes her different is her friendship with Calvin. For anyone who has realistically thought of how hard someone like Calvin can be to live with will definitely understand what I’m trying to get at.

Susie Derkins is the embodiment of patience! After all those snowballs, those slimy descriptions of food, and all the mean comments; Calvin asks her if there’s a possum stuck under her collar for God’s sake! Susie bears it all. Why? Simple because when you are friends with somebody you sort of give them that much leeway, Susie isn’t all forgiving but let’s get to that later.

Susie Derkins is Calvin’s only real friend. Really through all those comics notice how Calvin is all alone with no other person he can call his friend? And Hobbes is his imagination. Good imagination, but really does he count? Its difficult to imagine a 6 year old misfit with only a tiger toy to talk to. Susie is his only real friend.That’s pretty sad as it is.

What I love about her is the fact that she exists. With all the madness and the name calling and the endless snowballs and Slimy girl accusations, she is with Calvin. I also love Susie Derkins for being “normal” when compared to Calvin (but then who isn’t?). But Susie is not all shy girl, she is fierce! At one point Calvin’s mother even tells Susie that it is not okay to pick on stupid children, the stupid kid being Calvin.  

Susie really knows how to outsmart Calvin be it by making him eat bugs (trying) or throwing snowballs or threatening Calvin. She is untroubled by Calvin most of the times, she knows how to give it right back to him! Her retorts are quite something! She is smart and man! She can fight! She can be very sweet and stern. I like that about Susie; she is unafraid, what is true friendship if not the ability to say things as they are? She reaches out to Calvin from time to time. Now, of all the people that she could be with, Susie chooses Calvin. While this may be me reading too much into her character, I really find it hard to fathom why a 6 year old wants to hangout with a meanie like Calvin. Simple, Susie gets it.

Susie is alone herself; remember the endless tea parties she hosts? One of which Hobbes is a part of. She gets it. Imagine a friend of yours who does not have any friends (other than you), is bullied and is not doing very well in school would you or would you not want to reach out to him? Susie is simply doing that. To add to that, I also think the whole charm that gets Susie to talk to Calvin is the fact that both have stuffed animals. How many 6 year olds can you find who are obsessed with a stuffed toy?

Susie Derkins really makes me think. Every time I think about a character like Susie’s, I am reminded of my friends and family who lived through my hyper activity. I mean we’ve all been kids, we’ve all be unmanageable at some point in time but thankfully most of us had friends who would tire us out. All our parents would do is gladly welcome a sweaty, stinky kid inside the house only to be fed and put to bed. These friends our parents are eternally grateful for. Susie is not the friend Calvin plays with, but she is the friend that Calvin constantly ends up with.

Susie gives you the impression of being both concerned and unconcerned. She worries in but in the right quantity, she is never meddling in Calvin’s life (if that’s what you can call what a 6 year old has). But she is also never too unconcerned, hey! She asks (rather listens) to him about what he has for lunch and she invites him for tea and that counts for something.  

Anyway, my top 10 takeaways from Susie Derkins

1. If you want to be friends with anyone, you must not be judgmental.

2. You are your own person, while you will gladly share space with your friend; you are not required to be attached to them all the time.

3. Be patient

4. You can fight! You are friends does not make your relationship immune to squabbles

5. When in a fight, fight like you mean it! Give it back to your opponent; they need a taste of their own medicine

6. Friendship is effort. So much effort.

7. There is a very strong possibility that your friend is lonely and doesn’t really know it. Be there.

8. It’s ok to be a little crazy or be with people who bring out your crazy side.

9. Friends can be awful to each other, a little humour helps.

10. If you are stuck on a project report with Calvin, you are better off doing it on your own.  

PS: What is also noteworthy is the fact the Calvin was probably schizophrenic and imagined Hobbes as real. And he also has Attention Deficit Disorder. Now, your appreciation of Susie must grow. :D

The above post is written by Meghana Lawate- her blog is here. 

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