Pickles is my favorite comic strip. How could it not be? It is about Earl and Opal Pickles, in their seventies, and the observations by cartoonist Brian Crane are always spot-on. Minor characters are grandson Nelson (once the age of my own grandson, but Nelson never grows older), daughter Sylvia and her husband Dan (rarely seen). Dog Roscoe and cat Muffin are frequent subjects. Earl often hangs out on a park bench with his philosophical buddy, Clyde. Opal’s friend is a woman her age with straight gray hair, but I cannot find her name. Earl’s brother. Leon, visits occasionally, showing up for breakfast, but he looks nothing like Earl. Leon is a cartoonist whose main inspiration is Opal. Both Earl and Opal’s glasses are blanked out, but it looks more normal than the eyes of Orphan Annie. Occasionally they are hunting for their glasses, like the rest of us, and we can see they do have eyes.
In a recent strip, Earl demonstrates to Nelson how he can telepathically send a very funny joke to Opal quietly knitting on the other side of the sofa. “How come she isn’t laughing?” asks Nelson.
“Gramma never laughs at my jokes,” says Earl.
This is an example of what I mean by spot-on. Almost all long-married couples do not laugh at each other’s jokes. Why is this?
My theory is that after many years, married couples think alike. A joke depends on a surprise twist, and at our age, our thinking holds no surprises for our spouse. We only laugh at grandchildren’s jokes. They always surprise us.