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Family Circus, 5/30/05

A one-panel comic is all punchline, and a skillfully crafted one can derive much of its power from making the reader imagine the scenario that played out to lead up to the presented conclusion. I’d like to think that in the half-hour or so immediately before today’s Family Circus, Daddy took the measure of his eldest’s pitching ability and pounded homer after homer into the next subdivision, barely breaking a sweat and sporting that smug little smile as he systematically broke Billy’s self-confidence and will to live. “When you came along, Billy,” he thinks, “I lost my youth and privacy, I was no longer first in my wife’s affections, and I was ever more firmly shackled to a white-collar job I hate and a soulless suburban home I loathe. Every day I look at your fresh young face, full of life and vigour, and I’m reminded that I’m getting older and closer to death. But by God, at least you can’t get a fastball by me yet.” Then — pow! — another run scored for Team Grown-up. Finally, as the ache in Jeffy’s knees begins to become almost unbearable while he waits for the strike that will never come, Billy attempts to salvage some shred of dignity while begging for mercy. I like to think that Daddy replies with a sneering “Screw you, kid — bunting is for pussies” before sending Billy scrambling with a line drive aimed right at his grossly oversized head.