Title text: (1) That shopping cart is full of AirHeads, and (2) I died at 41 from what the AirHeads company spokesperson called 'probably natural causes.'
In this comic, Cueball performs several mundane adult tasks, namely shopping for groceries, buying furniture, and applying for a mortgage. In each instance thought bubbles show his apparent surprise or amusement at the fact that he is behaving like an adult.
In the last panel Megan is reading Cueball's will. Instead of containing standard language, it expresses Cueball's feelings at the fact that he was actually creating a will. This is such an adult thing to do, that Cueball's mind boggles and he cannot believe he is doing so. As is revealed in the title text, Megan reads this to his family because Cueball died early, but when he wrote it, he probably did not envision that it was needed any time soon, and thus also explains why he cannot believe he is writing a will already.
Randall frequently addresses the issue of growing up and being expected to be an adult, despite still seeing oneself as a child in many ways. In this strip, Cueball finds himself performing tasks that he's used to thinking of as things that grown-ups have to worry about, from shopping for food to preparing for one's own death. In each case, he treats the situation as if he were a child suddenly finding himself taking on adult responsibility, which seems to be how he sees himself.
Randall also frequently addresses the issue of finding oneself in adulthood, despite feeling unprepared and immature. In some, he points out that this can be freeing, because it allows us the power to redefine adulthood on our own terms (see 150: Grownups and 219: Blanket Fort). In others (as in this case), he addresses the surprise that comes with realizing that adult responsibilities belong to you, and fear about his ability to handle them (see 441: Babies, 905: Homeownership, and 616: Lease).
In the title text we learn that the shopping cart is filled with Airheads, a tangy, taffy-like, chewy candy, predominantly known for its sweet taste and texture. The title text thus suggests that Cueball still retains some more childish instincts, namely using the freedom of adulthood to indulge in AirHead candies, to fatal consequences, explaining why they already read out his will in front of his family in the last panel. It also suggests that the candy company would be quick to portray that death as "natural causes", to downplay the involvement of their product in someone's death.
Randall has previously made a comic displaying what happened to him when he suddenly was able to freely make or buy the kind of food his parents would have limited his access to in 418: Stove Ownership, where it was bacon in the comic and Frosting (or icing) in the title text.
- [Cueball is holding onto a shopping cart more than half filled with items looking quite similar. Above his head is a large thought bubble.]
- Cueball (thinking): Haha, look at me grocery shopping! I'm such an adult.
- [Cueball is standing, arms in his sides, in front of a sofa with a price tag. He is thinking again, this time the frame of the panel is the lower part of the thought bubble, as there is no frame around the text in the "bubble".]
- Cueball (thinking): Buying a sofa! Ooh, look how domestic I am!
- [Cueball is sitting in an office chair. at a desk, leaning in over it while writing something. The desk is filled with office items, and on the opposite side of the desk sits a man with a wisp of hair in another office chair. Cueball is thinking again with the text in a large thought bubble above their heads.]
- Cueball (thinking): Applying for a mortgage! As if I'm a real grown-up.
- [Megan is reading out loud from a piece of paper, while standing in front of a long table, where Hairbun, Hairy, and White Hat are sitting. White hat sits at the end of the table in an office chair.]
- Megan: ...And I, being of sound mind and body, am totally writing a will right now!
- Megan: Can you believe this?
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I included an alternate explanation that approached the joke from a different perspective. The first explanation agreed that certain tasks identify one as an adult while I saw the joke to mean that we bestow adult-like properties onto certain tasks in order to convince ourselves we must be an adult when those tasks do nothing to mature us or bestow maturity.R0hrshach (talk) 15:39, 29 April 2016 (UTC)
I understood the joke to be that a large number of people, if not everybody, behaves like cueball when they become adults. They perform adult tasks out of necessity. They are surprised that they are doing such adult things because they have not felt any discernible change in themselves as they transition into adulthood and therefore assume that they lack the maturity necessary to be an adult. However, the irony is that doing such tasks is what makes others perceive them as adults. Their peers have no transparency into their inner thought process and simply assume those performing adult tasks are mature and have something they themselves don't, when in reality this is far from the case. The joke is then that Cueball takes it to the extreme and even verbalizes it in his will, which is an extremely serious document and in which such a joking remark is unexpected. Alephprime (talk) 15:54, 29 April 2016 (UTC)
- This is well written. Especially the last about the will should maybe be included in the explanation. I'm a little worried given that I will turn 41 in less than a week ;-) However, we do not have AirHeads here, and I have never tried them to that appeases me a bit :-p Kynde (talk) 19:32, 29 April 2016 (UTC)
The explanation says that Cueball is engaging in "mundane" adult tasks. I'm not convinced that they are all so mundane, especially if we think of Cueball doing each of them for the first time. Taking out a mortgage, certainly, involves taking on long-term responsibilities. Buying a sofa implies deciding how to furnish one's home, and committing a substantial sum of money to this. Even with grocery shopping ... I remember, as a young adult, the shock of realising that for the first time I would get to choose what I would buy and eat! (And no, I didn't buy nothing but Airheads....) 188.8.131.52 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- Additional meaning
Isn't this also a kind of concealed critique of the AirHeads company? Randall clearly has some grudge against them if he included a comment on company issuing an official statement about Cueball's cause of death. Either Cueball was going to far with the condiments use or there's something more about candies' effect on health. Or both - he is worried that comic's story could become a reality because of the too much sugar he is eating? :) user:PIPIVOJ 184.108.40.206 08:41, 30 April 2016 (UTC)
- Well... Since Cueball only and presumably only ever bought AirHeads, he has likely died of the effects from the resulting malnutrition. This might be poking fun at the fact that, even though this is clearly caused by his own irresponsibility and not the product on itself, the company has to deny that the product had any connection at all to the death in order to avoid bad PR or even legal actions. 12:15, 02 May 2016 (UTC)