I learned cynicism at a very early age from, of all places, "The Family Circus."
Even as a 7 year-old, I found it maudlin, repetitive and ripe for ridicule. Every day, the single-panel comic strip had the same plot contrivances: Grape soda is spilled, all the kids say "Not Me" and a smirking ghost named "Not Me" sneaks away; dorky Dad asks Billy to run a simple errand and he walks around the house, jumps on the bed, eats cookies and completes a labyrinthine circuit before, 45 minutes later, takes out the trash; bratty Dolly tattles on Jeffy for a mild transgression like praying with his eyes open; and one of the kids asks an aw-shucks, so cute-it's poignant question.
There's also my favorite: Artist/dork Dad goes on vacation and leaves 8-year-old Billy in charge. He draws crude cartoons that make his father and mom look like Do-Do birds. It was the redeeming feature of the strip for me -- an anarchic, Kids Rule the Roost takedown of The Man -- until I realized the Billy had been 8 for three years, his drawing never improved and the artist, Bill Keane, was pulling a fast one on impressionable minds.
Thirty years later, I'm pulling my own "Family Circus" routine, but this time, it's legit. I am going on a blogging vacation for at least a month, and Mo is taking over. For 18 months, the division of labor on the blog has been thus: I write 'em; she edits 'em, hectoring me until I tone down the over-the-top metaphors and -- horror of horrors -- get my facts straight. Usually, I complain, scream, stomp my feet in protest and relent. After five-plus years, I am beginning to learn a few things about marriage.
Mostly, I'm eager for a break from the computer and want to enjoy the sunshine. But I want to keep the blog going and feel I haven't maintained the quality or quantity I'd like in the past few months.
I am excited to share the wealth. Mo is a great writer, quite funny and spins a good yarn without resorting to obscure pop-culture references. She has a perspective that I, as a knuckle-dragging, hard-salami-eating male, lack. Plus, let's face it, after 18 months anything could use some new blood. After a while, I acknowledge some of my posts so verged toward self-parody that they nearly read like Mad Libs.
_____________ (Outdated saying), Hope is _______ (verb ending in 'ing') her pacifier with the vigor of ________ ('70s TV show star) cruising with Herbie the Love Bug or _________ (Cold War figure) banging his _______ (article of clothing) on ________ (piece of furniture.)
So no more ado. I'm eager for Big Mo to get started. And remember: The dorkwad dad in "Family Circus" always came back.