(Strip Number 1416, Original Publication Date, 9 February 1989)
Panel 1: First of all, I am struck by the sight of Janet wearing a short skirt in the middle of February. Brrr! When we have seen her before, she was grade A frumpy, wearing clothes that an ancient school librarian would consider conservative. Those clothes looked a lot warmer. This is not something Lynn does by accident. She may be sending a message with this short skirt. After all, we did not see the conversation where Martha cooked up this series of demands and when Martha approaches Michael in two days, none of this stuff comes up.
Demand #1 from Martha is a “date at the mall for lunch.” Is she insane? Neither of them drive and what parent is going to be stupid enough to pick up their 12-year-old son’s/daughter’s girlfriend/boyfriend so they can spend time at the mall together unsupervised? Okay, Elly Patterson might do that.
Let me work from the idea that Lynn Johnston considers this to be an acceptable activity and she may have done exactly that with her son Aaron, who would have been 15 years old at the time. This sort of demand would say, “You’ve been my boyfriend for 3 months and we haven’t been on a date.”
Panel 2: Demand #2: Give Martha the little Olympic pin Michael wears on his jacket. What? In 1989, when this comic strip was originally published, the Olympics were not going on. It is somewhat ironic that in reprints in 2018 the Olympics are going on. The Olympic pin comes out of nowhere and it is a very specific item as if there was a whole story about it that we have not been told (and never will be told unless Lynn helps us out in her Lynn’s Notes).
Panel 3: Michael asks the question, “If Martha wants me to do all this stuff…why doesn’t she ask me herself?” Don’t you know the first rules of blackmail, Michael? You never negotiate directly or the person being blackmailed might recognize you.
Panel 4: Janet says, “She wants it to be your idea!!” I guess Janet is not going to get the award for manipulation, if she says it this directly. Nevertheless, this is a common relationship complaint when one member of the couple does all the social planning while the other does nothing. They want to know that the other person is interested enough in them to plan something too. Sorry, Martha. If you want that, you don’t want a Patterson.
Summary: Personally, I don’t like it when people turn an innocent mistake made into an opportunity for blackmail. It makes it seem like Martha’s forgiveness is something that has to be paid for. Will Michael give into the demands, or will Michael get to keep that Olympic pin we have never seen him wear on his jacket?