I think we have a good one here.
"Am I doing anything cute, Grandma?"
"Who's having the raw herring?"
Now in #1, we have our old friend Pathos the Waiter. Grandma has showed up at his place of employment with a pet seal. Any reasonable server in this situation would just tell Grandma that no pets are allowed even if they are capable of quietly sitting in a chair. Quietly escort her out. Really, to do anything short of that is grounds for dismissal. Instead, Pathos desperately tries to endear himself to what we have to assume is an emotional tyrant of a grandparent who has recently gone crazy enough to bring a seal to lunch. He wants her approval even if it is in the form of infantilization. And no, you're not doing anything cute. Unless you consider losing your dignity to be cute then your goddamn adorable.
Over in #2, we have Jeffy with his idea of what the elderly eat. They're old, they're peculiar, I bet they eat raw herring, he figures. Either that or Grandma is so desperately unwelcome on these near constant visits that Mommy and Daddy feed her only raw herring. Jeffy, fat and happy on lunchables and chocolate Quik, knows this and, joining in the derision, mocks her. It's all that he knows. I mean, look at the poor woman's face. How did it come to this?, she's thinking. Not even Dead Grandpa in Heaven can help her now.
And my goodness, Jeffy is small.
Jeffy is NOT small. The couch is 50 feet long and perspective makes him seem tiny.
Or perhaps, as I've always suspected, the kids are "normal" but they've been abducted by a family of giants. Thus the "Family Circus" is kind of like a flea circus, a place to come look at freakishly small children.
It all ties out with the Charlie Brown invisible wah-wah-wah adults as a 50s / 60s alegory for Boomer disillusionment with the world their parents left them (and they then destroyed with disco and coke).
Damn, if only I'd seen this back in college I could have written my honors thesis on that instead of theatre design in the 18th century. I'm sure Nancy would have allowed that...
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