529: Sledding Discussion
Title text: If you get your hands on that one, it's the worst place to have a breaking-up conversation.
Cueball and Megan have a perfectly normal sled ride down a perfectly normal hill (engaging in what's traditionally a children's pastime) while Cueball is complaining that he has grown too old for certain things – like learning another language fluently (but not for taking a sleigh ride – although he does not really seem to enjoy it). There is a hypothesis, called the critical period hypothesis, which states that you can only learn a language fluently before a certain age.
Cueball hates that options are closed to him and feels like he has given up a life that was once possible. The joke is that this reminds Megan about their anniversary coming up. This means that she feels that she has given up a life that was once possible by staying so long with Cueball. Actually this may be the time when they are going to break up.
The reader would thus have expected something ironic to happen at the end of the trip but instead, the only humor in the last frame arises from their commentary on the lack of humor.
Calvin and Hobbes is an acclaimed newspaper comic strip that ran from 1985 to 1995. Calvin is a six-year-old child with an active imagination, and Hobbes is his stuffed tiger whom Calvin perceives to be alive through his imagination. The two frequently had philosophical conversations, often while sledding. Calvin sledded on densely wooded hills near where he lived, and the ride would often serve as a perfect parallel to the conversation they were having; for example, in one strip, Calvin talks about how seemingly mundane decisions can nonetheless have lasting consequences, by pointing out how all the things they see as they continue down the hill (and eventually crash into a ravine) are a direct result of him having taken a particular fork early on.
The title text notes that if you did have a Calvin and Hobbes toboggan, it would be the worst place to have a breaking-up conversation, perhaps because the sled itself would literally break up during the journey – with potentially dangerous consequences. This is also the clue to the fact that the comic is in fact about a break-up situation.
Calvin and Hobbes is also referenced in 409: Electric Skateboard (Double Comic).
- [Megan looks out window through blinds.]
- Megan: It's snowing!
- Cueball: [from off-screen] Sled time!
- [Megan and Cueball outside with sled, at the top of a hill.]
- Cueball: It depresses me that I'm too old to learn another language fluently. My brain's solidified.
- [Megan and Cueball sledding down the hill.]
- Megan: Is there one you wish you knew?
- Cueball: No, I just hate having options closed to me. Like I've given up a life that was once possible.
- [At the bottom of the hill, sled has stopped.]
- Megan: Yeah. Which reminds me - our anniversary is coming up.
- Megan: Man, that ride failed to be a metaphor for our conversation.
- Cueball: Guess this isn't the Calvin & Hobbes-model toboggan.
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