(Strip Number 1446, Original Publication Date, 21 April 1989)
Panel 1: “They put on a slow dance. I knew it!” Who are these mysterious people who control the music at Michael’s birthday party? Why is this being treated like it was a school dance instead of a birthday party? Michael is the man of the hour. If he doesn’t want slow dances, then there should be no slow dances. In the meantime, in the background silhouettes, you can see the Martha silhouette standing by the Lawrence silhouette. The running theme with Mike and Martha is that when he ignores her, she moves onto another man. Lynn does show that here, but it’s pretty subtle in silhouette.
Panel 2: While we see silhouette Lawrence and silhouette Martha chatting in the background, Mike stuffs his face with chips and asks himself a few questions. What are the answers?
- What if I step all over her?
Answer 1: You apologize?
Answer 2: You look around and realize there is almost no stepping in 1980s style slow dancing. It is mainly holding and swaying.
- What if I totally screw up?
Answer: Not “if”. “When” and that time is right now, chip eater.
- What if she thinks I’m hopeless?
Answer: I believe the answer to that one is in the final panel of this strip.
Panel 3: I like the way Michael is wiping the chip mess off on his shirt in a typical example of Patterson disregard for clothing. As he prepares to get ready to consider the possibility that he might be able to see his way to slow dance with Martha, I notice in the background silhouettes we no longer see Martha and Lawrence’s silhouettes.
Panel 4: For once a Patterson has the goggle-eyed look of shock on his face and it is completely and totally justified. For once, this is not an overreaction for the sake of comedy. Your best friend and your girlfriend are slow dancing together cheek-to-cheek no less. That is classic, trashy behaviour straight from the soap operas and it is the moment that makes this birthday party the best birthday party of all time in the whole run of the comic strip. Here’s the best part: Lawrence and Martha are slow dancing together exactly the way I remember doing it in the 1980s. Camera on my dance floor.
The occasional theme for Lawrence is that he and Michael competed over girls. It was fairly subtle with Deanna Sobinski, but it was there. This is the most overt Lawrence has been. If Lynn Johnston had gone with her original plan to make Brian Enjo gay, I wonder if Lynn would have had Lawrence make a play for Rhetta Blum too. Here’s where Mike and Lawrence fought over Deanna.
Summary: I am amazed Lawrence and Michael’s relationship survived this moment. To do this to your best friend at his birthday party is about as low as you go. Yet, for some reason, we will see that Lawrence will remain spotless and blame free.