August 30th, 2010

Snarky Candiru2

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Since Michael has no idea what to do with the consistent attention and discipline Mrs Hardacre exerts on him, he wants to change his name to deflect what he sees as being her singling him out for special mistreatment because she hates him.

(Strip Number 4057, Original Publication Date, 1 September 1981)

Panel 1: We start off where we left off yesterday as Mrs Hardacre calls Darryl Smythe, Lawrence Poirier and Michael Patterson by their names as a means of getting their attention.

Panel 2: What she's trying to get them to pay attention to is that Recess is over and that the rest of the class is waiting for them to grace the room with their presence.

Panel 3: Having noticed that the dentist's kid is especially mopey and still dawdling, she says "In my class, we are on time. Do you hear me, Michael Patterson?"

Panel 4: As he walks by with his eyes bugged out in the Bug-Eyed Glare of Existential Horror™, he thought-bubbles that he wants to change his name.

Summary: The part of me that remembers being seven remembers feeling as if a particular teacher hated me like fire and lived to inflict pain and suffering because she was just plain mean and just plain hated children; the forty-five year old man who's typing this knows that said "meanie" was simply trying to keep order and settle down a fricking little prima donna who thought he knew a lot more than he actually did and get him to remember his times tables and write longhand that people could actually read without wondering "Did anyone bother teaching this goof?" To summarize my summary, I can see both sides of the story and sympathize with all parties involved.
Snarky Candiru2

Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wonders what he ever saw in girl....

Another of the extended arcs that Lynn seems to have gotten right was the one about Mike's infatuation with Martha. As we know, they first met in Summer Camp and bonded over their mutual tendency to do stupid things to impress people who exploited that tendency for cheap laughs. When they found out that they attended the same middle school. they went through the typical awkwardness that goofy, average, normal children go through: the mixed signals, the embarrassment that love letters inspire, the awkwardness that was watching Lawrence trying to convince himself he's normal by feigning interest in girls and so on and so forth. The parental reaction was also to be expected as it was what any sap would do under the circumstances: her parents didn't think too highly of him and Elly fretted that Martha's body language would talk Mike into doing something he shouldn't. As I said, they were dirt-ordinary parents having an everyday reaction to a standardized situation. Granted, most people wouldn't have shipped Mike off to exile farm in order to cool him off but most people don't live in the state of inexplicable, misdirected hypervigilance as Elly. Even the resolution of the arc was to be expected; after Mike allowed himself to give into paranoia because he mistakenly thought that she was giving him the brush-off when a communications blackout was in effect, Martha started to develop an interest in someone who actually talked about what was on his mind instead of making her guess where she stood. Needless to say, Mike didn't much like being the dumpee; how he 'got over' getting over her was also fairly humdrum. His hoping that when they were forty, she'd come begging for forgiveness for making him feel like a bird in the radiator grille of life was also something one would expect of a seventeen year old trying to sort out how he felt; the Mike of 2005 had this to say about her:

Hey - I almost forgot to tell you. I ran into Martha, the Juliet to my teenage Romeo, at the deli last week. She's now divorced, with a set of twin girls. She works for a screen printing place right down the street from the Portrait offices. She's still as funny as ever, and she looks good and happy. Hopefully we'll run into each other again one of these days. It was nice to "remember when".

When one contrasts Michael's nostalgia about two kids who had some laughs and tears and still feel something for one another with the Settlepocalypse, it's as if he and Liz inhabited two different strips.