(Strip Number 5023, Original Publication Date, 1 October 1988)
First: Michael’s history
Mike: Well, there’s this girl. First she acts like we’re friends,
We see it here. Michael and Martha are holding hands and he seems to be perfectly happy with that.
Likewise Martha kisses Mike and he seems to like that too. In fact, you could make the case that Martha wants to be more than just friends.
That however, does not explain this moment where Michael is paralyzed with fear over how to talk to Martha and he worries about being a jerk (which in this case means “a contemptibly naive, fatuous, foolish, or inconsequential person.”
Mike: …then she dumps all over me. A couple of days ago, she treats me like a jerk –
Here jerk seems to mean “an annoyingly stupid or foolish person; an unlikable person.” The “dumped on” appears be one part of getting giggled at by Martha’s friends.
The second part of “dumped on” is Gordon’s report that Martha has been spreading the story that Michael is crazy about her and that Mike kissed her on the beach. This is so close to the truth, it is amazing Mike would object.
And yet, object he does. Michael’s major objection to the story is that Martha is telling people he kissed her instead of the other way around.
To summarize: “She dumps all over me” is “She tells her friends I like her and I kissed her.” I would say that Michael does not know what dumping actually is.
Mike: An’ now she wants to be friends again!!
Here we see Michael tell Martha that he did not like her talking to her friends about him, after she checks to see if he is still mad.
Mike: an’ now she’s askin’ me to go over to her place an’ hang around!!
Here is the point of Martha’s call. It seems pretty nice. She is extending the olive branch of peace and inviting him to her house.
What more can she do? This seems pretty reasonable, but Mike considers it game-playing. You know nothing, Michael Patterson.
Second: John, the nonexistent parent
Panel 1: Unlike what you would expect from Saturday’s strip, John does not approach Michael. Michael has to come to him
Panel 2: He listens to Michael’s explanation of Martha and her cruelty to Mike.
Panel 3: John asks, “So, are you going over to her place?” This is what he asks. Michael is acting as if (a) John had no say in where he goes and (b) John is not going to check and see if Martha has any parents over to chaperone a boy and a girl together. As a parent, John is nonexistent. Michael might as well be talking to the wall, for what John gives him.
Panel 4: John sports the “My son is showing wisdom beyond his years” face as Michael decides to play road hockey and ignore Martha’s invitation. John is happy that his son has made the right decision without John having to do a darn thing.
Summary: You would think this would be the end of Mike and Martha, but when November rolls around Mike will be after Martha again and it will be like this whole storyline never happened.