(Strip Number 5019, Original Publication Date, 16 September 1988)
Panel 1: Here you can see the effect of Elly on Michael. She grabbed him by the shirt front to threaten him and now Michael is doing the same to Gordon, while yelling, “All right. Wait a minute. I want to know exactly what you heard!!” Clearly this is the result of parenting Patterson style.
As in the case with Elly, there is no need for the grabbing and the screaming. Gordon probably would have spilled the beans without threat of violence. Not only will it turn out that Michael is a poor boyfriend, he doesn’t seem to be that great of a friend either. Lawrence looks genuinely afraid that Michael is going to punch Gordon.
Panel 2: Unflappable Gordon puts his shirt back together as he explains, “Well –We heard that you were really crazy about her, and that you kissed her on the beach!” Michael is shocked! Shocked at this horrible news and he wants to know who is responsible by saying, “Who told you that?” You notice that Michael is not denying the story, but if he was only interested in honesty, he would. After all Michael and Martha kissed behind a building not on the beach as you can see in Panel 1 of this strip:
Also Martha kissed Mike, not the other way around.
You would not think that would be an issue for any boy, but shockingly enough, for Michael Patterson, this is a big deal. He doesn’t want to be known as a guy who kisses girls. In other words, he is different from practically every straight guy on the planet.
Oddly enough, the exact same thing is going to happen to April Patterson with Gerald Delaney/Forsythe and I would imagine that April’s words are the same thoughts that young Michael Patterson is bizarrely having as he hears these words from Gordon. To Martha, young Michael is a "score".
Panel 3: Apparently the litany of people who told Gordon and Lawrence about Michael and Martha is so complex that Gordon has to count on his fingers to list the whole information trail. Only this trail doesn’t make sense because both Lawrence and Brian were there at the camp making fun of Michael for being with Martha. Lawrence does not need to be told. Why wouldn’t Lawrence be the source? Why would Lawrence have to get his information from Jessie/Meg/Laura telling Kelly telling Brian who then told him? At this point, I began to wonder if Pale Lawrence at camp and this Lawrence today were different people. It could work except Lawrence was the kid who recognized Martha from yesterday, which he could not do if he was not the Lawrence who was at the camp.
Panel 4: Michael looks downcast as Lawrence says, “Hey- Don’t worry, man – we can keep a secret!” Michael doesn’t believe him and as we will learn with Monday’s strip, Michael is right. So, yesterday these guys are surprised to see Martha at the school in the first place, but somehow they have developed this communication network with Martha and her friends, which would imply they knew she was there all along. I get the impression that Lynn Johnston was making this story up as she went from panel to panel.
Summary: Now that Michael knows his secret is out and he has suffered the horrible fate of essentially being called a loose man, what will happen next? As you would guess, Michael is going to imitate his creator and hold a grudge - a long stinking, unrelenting grudge against the girl he likes, who kissed him and greeted him with a smile and giggle. Why have a girlfriend when you can have a lifelong enemy?