(Strip Number 5053, Original Publication Date, 02 December 1988)
Panel 1: Martha is wearing a lovely pink nightgown, sitting on her very nice-looking rod iron bed and writing on her side table/night stand. The Patterson beds all have wood bed frames and so I wonder if Lynn was trying to send some kind of message by showing Martha’s bed. Martha writes, “Dear Michael, I’m sorry I showed your note to Janet and Meg. It’s just that they’re my very best friends and they made me promise to tell them everything.” In other words, “It’s not my fault. It’s Janet and Meg’s fault.” I not buying that one, Martha. Someone looked pretty eager to share.
Panel 2: The nice little lamp on Martha’s night stand has mysteriously changed into a giant outdoor lantern and Martha’s bed posts disappear as if she suddenly decided to go camping to finish this note. As Martha reads her note, she holds the pencil in what appears to be a small hors d’oeuvre. Lynn’s drawing of her right hand is particularly awful.
Martha’s dialogue with herself is also particularly awful. “I can’t tell him that! If he knew that I tell Meg an’ Janet everything (and, if he still likes me…), he’d make me choose between them and him!!”
This is disturbing on a number of levels. Martha does not want to tell Michael about the nature of her relationship with Megan and Janet because she believes Michael has the right to force her to choose. Martha believes she has to be subservient to her man and do what he says. How does Michael get this power over Martha? Why does Martha have such a backward belief about male / female relationships in 1988?
More importantly, why did Lynn write it this way? She is far from subservient to Rod or Doug and the women in her family are independent free spirits. How did this nonsense come from a woman whose mother served in the RCAF in WWII and whose aunt roamed around the Canadian wilderness drawing paintings for most of her life? It is like a betrayal of everything the Ridgway women believed in.
Panel 3: The pencil magically disappears and Martha does a chest gesture as she asks, “How could I ever choose between the guy I truly like and my two very best friends?!!” Good question and sadly the answer is…
Panel 4: “…dumb question.” This could go either way. Martha could have decided to erase that part out of her note (dumb that she would give up her friends) or she could have decided to leave it in (dumb that she would not allow Mike to force her to give up her friends) . We can’t tell from the drawing because apparently Martha writes by gripping her pencil in all four fingers, unlike the way most people hold a pencil. We learn what she did ultimately by what happens.
Summary: Yes, folks, it's normal for a girl to drop her friends because her boyfriend insists upon it and yes, folks, this comic strip was written by a woman.