February 13th, 2020


Saturday, 15 February 2020

A public display of affection done for the effect of horrifying the father who saw it.

(Original Publication Date, 16 February 1991)

Panel 1: John has picked up the crew from the dance, and Martha sits in front.  In the back are silhouettes of Gordon’s fuzzy hair and Lawrence sporting what appears to be a Frankenstein’s monster look with an almost flat head.   Michael is coloured in so you know he is not Gordon or Lawrence.  You can tell Martha is not a Patterson because she says the word, “Thanks.”  You can tell John is a Patterson because his response is “That’s OK.”   In case you were wondering, the seat belts were drawn for the reprint and they are too skinny to be shoulder seatbelts.   Can’t blame deadlines for that terrible drawing.   Here’s how real seatbelts look:

Panel 2:  We get the very first public display of affection between Michael and Martha that was not hand-holding and marching.   Up to this point, every kiss between Mike and Martha was done in private.   Mike and Martha did not even slow dance at the dance.  While Lynn Johnston is going for the idea that John was horrified by that kiss, I would not be surprised if Gordon and Lawrence were also equally horrified.   Since Martha was briefly Lawrence’s girlfriend, kissing Martha in front of him is in extremely bad taste.   I am pretty sure that Lynn Johnston did not put one second of thought into Gordon or Lawrence’s reaction.

Panel 3: Michael opens the front passenger door to take Martha’s place beside his father and he thinks about how he doesn’t “always kiss Martha goodbye like that…. “ The obvious next question is, “Why not?”  Martha’s cute.  She likes kissing.  What’s stopping him?

Panel 4: Michael admits the only reason he kissed Martha like that was for the effect it had on his goggle-eyed father.  I can just see it now:

Martha: Michael gave me a really good kiss tonight.
Martha’s mom: Doesn’t he always give you a really good kiss?
Martha:   No.  Most times he’s too embarrassed to kiss me.
Martha’s mom: What was different tonight?
Martha:   His father was there.
Martha’s mom: This boy is so weird, he makes weirdos seem normal.
Martha:   He is a Patterson.
Martha’s mom: Boy is he.

Summary:   This joke is a typical one from Lynn Johnston where the kids have done something for no other reason than to upset the parents.   In early days, it was the way the kids intentionally (and not accidentally) made messes.  Now Michael is older, he kisses his girlfriend.  There is no possibility that Michael could ever kiss his girlfriend because he likes her or she is attractive to him or he just likes kissing.  It's just another way that Michael is not like any other teenage boy.