(Strip Number 1444, Original Publication Date, 18 April 1989)
Panel 1: Martha, Megan and Janet arrive together because you know that Grade 7 girls and their best friends always travel together. Martha is wearing a sailor dress square back collar flap that the colourist has decided needs to have purple trim. Oh poor colourist. That trim should be white.
John tells them they all look lovely and so he shows admirable restraint compared to the eye popping out of his head he does when he greets Rhetta Blum in five years.
Panel 2: Michael smacks his forehead so hard it actually knocks his eyes down his face. This is his reaction to Elly telling the kids where the party will be and where the food is. What is Michael expecting here? That the kids just wander around the house until they find the eats and punch?
Panel 3: Michael grimaces so hard his eyes have popped out and he clinches his teeth like he just had a body part removed. This is in reaction to Elly telling them she is going to leave them alone and where the extra bathroom is.
Panel 4: Martha tells Michael his parents are nice and he reveals all the clinching and grimacing was due to his embarrassment. This is like the recent comic strip where Michael said he was embarrassed by Elly singing publicly 30 years prior. This joke is even worse than that one, because at least it addressed one of the top ways parents can embarrass kids – public singing. With this one you have nothing.
Summary: The point of this seems to be that Michael is embarrassed by nothing. However, to be fair, let’s review the list of ways parents can embarrass children and see which one (if any) the comic strip hits:
1. Dancing – Elly and John: Surprisingly no.
2. Appear partially – or completely – unclothed – Elly and John: Thank goodness. No.
3. Inappropriate swimwear – Elly and John: No water nearby.
4. Send food back in a restaurant – Elly and John: No, but Elly may have had some of those eats before the party.
5. Pyjamas at the school gates – Elly and John: No, but there was a possibilty of pyjamas with this one.
6. Tell a joke in front of their friends – Elly and John: Shockingly no.
7. Offer words of wisdom – Elly and John: Amazingly no.
8. Mutton dressed as lamb – Elly and John: No. You can tell this list came from England.
9. Hint that you have had sex at some point in your life – Elly and John: No. Would never happen.
10. Ride their scooter home from school – Elly and John: No, but that would be a fun story.
11. Step Out In Some Stylin' Mom Jeans– Elly and John: Elly is wearing a dress and we can’t see John’s pants (so maybe).
12. Sling the Slang – Elly does say the word “eats”. Maybe that’s it.
13. Bring Lots of Attention to Yourself - Elly and John: Well, they do open the doors.
14. Document Your Fun on Facebook and Other Social Media- Elly and John: N/A
15. Show Your Love with Public Displays of Affection - Elly and John: Have done that before, but not this time.
So the best we get is maybe John is wearing Mom Jeans and Elly may have used the slang word “eats”. It’s pretty weak and makes the folk singing embarrassment seem reasonable in comparison.