It’s the Great Asshole, Charlie Brown!
We met our first Wingnut in 1967. The word wasn’t around at the time, but thinking back on it, he fit the type. Stupid. Confident. Jerk.
We were in third grade. It was Halloween, and instead of begging for candy and going through the Mom Ritual of fretting about apples embedded with razor blades, we decided to wander around the old neighborhood of modest two-bedroom homes with a distinctive orange box, trick-or-treating for UNICEF.
We don’t recall being especially concerned about Starving Children in Africa. It just seemed like the thing to do.
So we’re going door-to-door, performing the ritual that everyone knew: The kid chants his greeting. You drop a quarter in the box and give him a candy bar, because he’s still a kid, and you want to reward his altruism.
Next house. Knock-knock! Door opens. We’re going to say that the twentysomething gentleman wore a dirty t-shirt and jeans, and add the touches of a mustache and an open can of Schlitz, not because memory serves, but situation demands.
“Trick or Treat for UNICEF!”
“I’m not giving you anything,” he finally says, “because that money goes to Communist children.”
Decades later, we remain as stunned as we were the moment it happened. We’ve encountered far worse since then, but that was the night we lost our innocence. And to this day, we still don’t understand them.