(Strip Number 1346, Original Publication Date, 17 September 1988
Panel 1: Michael moves himself back to his thinking spot near the lockers and thinks to himself, “No wonder Martha an’ her friends were giggling when they went by me – she’s told them everything!!” First of all, it’s nice to know that Michael drops the “d” in “and” even when he is thinking it. Second of all, they did not go by you, Michael. You approached them, they turned to acknowledge you, Martha smiled at you and talked to you, and then they giggled as they left you. Michael is doing a little revisionist history in his brain to make him feel a little more mistreated than he actually was.
Panel 2: Michael puts his hand to his chest and apparently hit the button that causes his left arm to snap off his body. What is up with that? It looks like Lynn Johnston drew the left arm in, and then realizing she did not have enough room in the panel for Michael’s giant thought bubble, drew the rest of his body lower in the panel without taking the time to redraw the arm. When I see stuff like this, it makes me think thoughts like, “How stinking hard is it to erase one arm?!!!” But for Michael he thinks thoughts like, “She told them we kissed! She probably told them every dumb thing I ever said to her. And I thought she liked me!! …I feel like a grade A, first class FOOL!!!”
Not grade A first class fool. That’s a Grade 6 fool. Although Michael will turn 13 next year, which would imply that he is 12 years old this year, typically it is Grade 7 where the kids start off 12 years old and turn 13. However, Michael and all his friends had to repeat Grade 5 and that is why he is only in Grade 6.
It occurs to me now that Grade 5 was Aaron’s last grade in Lynn Lake. I wonder if Michael repeated Grade 5 because Lynn had some fond memories of the time in Lynn Lake when she used to act like a parent and she wanted to stretch that out.
EDIT: aprilp_katje has pointed out to me that Michael is actually in Grade 7, because he was in Grade 6 last fall. So, Michael is a Grade 7 fool.
Aside from the kissing, let’s look at all the dumb things Mike said to Martha at summer camp and see if any of them can be considered embarrassing:
Friday August 18, 2017 – “I dunno. How come you’re not at the campfire?”
Intelligence rating: Pretty good. A nice response to Martha’s accusation that he is crazy.
Saturday August 19, 2017 – “What’s your name?” “Yeah, I got named after one of mother’s high school friends. I never even met the guy…and I have to be named after him!”
Intelligence rating: Pretty high. He is making conversation and sharing interesting information and his “and” even has a “d” in it.
Monday August 21, 2017 – “Me, too!” “Me, too!” “Yeah!”
Intelligence rating: Not so good. Nothing embarrassing, but not impressive.
Saturday August 26, 2017 – “Only one day left Martha an’ then we hafta go home.””I, um…What I wanna say is...uh…that I” “I don’t know. My lips won’t work.”
Intelligence rating: This one is bad. He can’t speak. He can’t put together sentences. He even drops the “d” from “and”. What’s worse is that he was talking this same way when he greeted Martha in the hall.
I can see Martha telling her friends, “I got a boyfriend at summer camp named Michael. He really liked holding hands and marching in silence. He is a good kisser. But, he has a hard time speaking with words, so if he speaks to me, try not to laugh too much.” All things considered, the issue for Michael is not so much dumb things he told her, but dumb things he was incapable of telling her.
Panel 3: And in just two short panels, Michael decides to give up girls as he thinks, “That’s it. I’ve had it with girls. From now on, I’m just gonna hang out with the guys!!” Back to the He-Man Woman-Haters Club. Gordon and Lawrence have known Michael forever and this is clear because they stood there and waited the whole time Michael was leaning against the locker thinking. It takes a real friend to stand there and wait while you are having a long think.
Panel 4: As it turns out Michael was there thinking by the lockers for such a long period of time, Gordon and Lawrence had enough time to wander off and find paper, marker and tape so they could tape, “Call me Hot Lips!” on his back. Michael thinks, “…at least you can trust them.” Obviously he can’t. He will either have to live with being associated with a M*A*S*H character or he will suffer the horror of being known as the guy who kissed a girl. Maybe both. How will he live down the shame?
Later on, Lynn Johnston will retcon this so that Michael is upset that Martha told people that he kissed her and not the other way around, which makes me wonder if people saw the comic strip and said, “What is wrong with you Lynn? Boys are not embarrassed to be kissed by girls. They brag about it. They announce it. It is a source of great pride.” Then Lynn turned to Aaron and said, “Is that true?” and Aaron said, “Mom. That was me talking. I wasn’t lying to you.”
Summary: Somehow Michael associates talking about kissing and conversation to be a betrayal. Was there some point in there where Michael assumed that Martha would keep what they did and said to each other an absolute secret? I must have missed it.
“I know she hates me because she told people we kissed and talked to each other. That is the sign of hatred. She is now my mortal enemy.” This is the sort of thing which makes me think that John and Elly are doing a very poor job of modeling a healthy relationship.As for enemies, I would think Gordon and Lawrence would jump to the top of the list with that sign on the back and they do. We will see Martha in two weeks so I am handing this back to dreadedcandiru2 until then, but it will be a few months before Gordon and Lawrence reappear.