572: Together

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This scavenger hunt is getting boring. Let's go work on the treehouse!
Title text: This scavenger hunt is getting boring. Let's go work on the treehouse!

[edit] Explanation

When they are very young Cueball and Megan runs away from Cueball's two friends (who looks much like Cueball and Megan as well). They fall in love, get married, and grow old together (Megan begins to look like Hairbun, and the old Cueball wears a sailor cap, but it is obviously still Megan and Cueball from the first panel). At the end Cueball leaves his wife - without saying goodbye or explaining why he leaves. He returns to the same place where he left his two friends that has been waiting on him with the same box next to them, and, we must assume, the same list they also had in the first picture. And we finally learn, that being happy was just another thing crossed off Cueball's list of what is presumably the longest-duration scavenger hunt of all-time, considering Cueball grew quite old before ever completing that step on the list. And when he did - he just got up and left his lifelong wife... Because now he was ready for the next item on the list.

The title of the comic is probably a reference to the saying that you find happiness together with your loved ones. So after finding a penny and a snake skin he had to get married and old to be able to find happiness. Next he needs to find a Four-leaf clover, a shark tooth and something obscured by the speech bubble to continue the hunt, but before he continues he find that he is getting bored with this game as can be seen in the title text.

The treehouse reference in the title text is another example of a common childhood activity. Naturally, the intended mental image is a bunch of old men building a treehouse and living and playing in it like six year olds. And also typical for children to tire of a game before it is finished. Except here he already spend a lifetime on just one point! The idea of adults having a fort in the woods was mentioned, rather darkly, in the title text of 219: Blanket Fort.

Three of the old people looks very similar to three of those standing in line in 586: Mission to Culture.

[edit] Transcript

[Cueball and Megan are running in a field, holding hands. They are running away from another pair which also looks like Cueball and Megan. This pair stand in the background, next to a small box. There may be something lying on top of the box, but it is difficult to see clearly. The sun is shining above them.]
[Cueball and Megan are in a boat on a lake, very romantic. Cueball is speaking to Megan, illustrated with a heart.]
Cueball: ♡
[Cueball and Megan sit together on a bench on a beach, watching the sunset.]
[Cueball and Megan stand in front of an altar under a wedding arch, with confetti falling around them. He is wearing a butterfly and she a veil.]
[Cueball and Megan, now old and wrinkled, sit together holding hands on their porch at the top of a small stair outside their house. He has a sailor cap on and Megan now wears her hair in a bun.]
[The same setting is depicted but seen from the side of the house. Cueball begins walking away from Megan using his cane. He has descended from the stair. Finally Megan speaks, and unusually there is a speech bubble, with an extra smaller bubble hanging on to it for the second sentence.]
Megan: Dear? Where are you-
Megan: Come back!
[Cueball approaches an old couple, presumably the kids from the first panel now turned old. They seem tired looking down all the time. The man only has hair around his neck and also a cane. The woman has long thinning hair. The box from the first panel is between Cueball and the other two. On top of it lies a piece of paper]
[Same picture except that Cueball is now standing still and has picked up the paper from the box and writes on it with a pen. Again there is a speak bubble.]
Cueball: Okay,
[The paper is shown. It is a scavenger hunt list with at least six items. The three first items have been checked off. The last item is blocked by the speech bubble, but can be seen to be there from the check box.]
Scavenger hunt:
☒ Indian-head penny
☒ Snake skin
☒ Happiness
☐ Four-leaf clover
☐ Shark tooth
Cueball (off-panel): What's next?

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Definitely one of the sweetest xkcd strips ever. Alpha (talk) 07:30, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

Or one of the most sad - as he just maried for a game and left when he was finished with his project... Kynde (talk) 00:41, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

U Could "building a treehouse" refer to an adult activity that is frequently postponed and possibly never finished, like items in a to do list? 17:34, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

No, those are shark teeth. I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 04:04, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

I feel maybe the wife was concerned that he was wandering off, and wants him to come back. 19:17, 24 July 2015 (UTC)

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