This is the first of the comic strips where we see that Michael does not pay attention to what Martha says – a habit that will only get worse as time goes on.
Panel 1: Back in April, Lynn Johnston foolishly complimented herself on her teenager dialogue for this comic strip:
That was truly awful. My reaction at the time was to check
In informal conversation, many people (especially the younger ones) often don’t quote someone by using the verb “say.” Instead of “She said, ‘No way!’” a teenager may choose one of three methods for quoting people:
(1) “She’s like, ‘No way!’ ”
(2) “She’s all, ‘No way!’ ”
(3) “She goes, ‘No way!’ ”
So instead of using the verb “say,” the speaker substitutes “be + like,” “be + all,” or “go.”
My guess is that Lynn took flack for her poor teenager speak back in April, because you see it corrected today with Martha saying, “she goes” and “I go”. Not only that but she throws in a “like” and a “totally”. Whoever it was that got Lynn to rewrite her terrible teenage dialogue, congratulations to you!!
Panel 2: Michael thinks about Martha’s eyes with the bit of green in them. He thinks of her smile. Plus he likes the way she uses her hands when she talks. He thinks these things as Martha splays a hand out Patterson style. Oh, Michael. You like a girl who uses her hands the way your mother does. I think they call those Freudian phalanges.
Panel 3: Martha must have said something that requires a response, so she knows Michael is not paying attention to what she is saying. I don’t know why she would expect any different. This is the boy with whom Martha spends time marching together, holding hands, and saying nothing. He has no experience in having an actual conversation with her.
Panel 4: Michael responds that he is paying attention to her and for many girls, this would be the moment where she would need to say, “My eyes are up here.” In Michael’s case, Martha might need to say, “My eyes are down here.”
Summary: I am sure we are supposed to think of this as young love, but Michael’s inability to relate to others is something that will haunt him for the rest of his comic strip life. The last time Michael ever talked to Martha was in his monthly letters and even then his mind wandered. It was as if he was still 14.