529: Sledding Discussion
Title text: If you get your hands on that one, it's the worst place to have a breaking-up conversation.
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 who 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 of 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.
Cueball and Megan, on the other hand, have a perfectly normal sled ride down a perfectly normal hill. The reader expects something ironic to happen, since they're engaging in what's traditionally a children's pastime while discussing how they've grown too old for certain things. Instead, the only humor arises from their commentary on the lack of humor.
An alternative (and more depressing) reading is that Cueball's statement that he "hates having options closed off to him, like he's given up a life that was once possible" is a commentary on their relationship having stagnated (since in the next panel Megan references their anniversary). In which case, the humor would be that they do have the Calvin and Hobbes model toboggan, but are too grown-up to recognize it and are therefore doomed to be stuck in an unfulfilling relationship.
The title text notes that it's a bad place to have a breaking up conversation, presumably because the sled itself would literally break up during the journey, with potentially dangerous consequences.
- [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.