#869-870 – yeah wow it really sucks

Again, not trying to make one side seem right or wrong - I've been in both roles - but I wanted to illustrate the dangerous turn they've taken. I've found the sort of requests that turn to "nagging" are the ones the asker feels were not heard the first (or second, or third) time they were made. Mar feels she's been put in this position where she needs to repeat herself, look like the grumpy one in front of their friends, etc. Jane in turn, embarrassed that she didn't even know it was a problem, feels like she's expected to read minds. Is Mar going to be mad *every* time Jane doesn't anticipate her feelings? Add in the everyday stress of dropping your keys down the sewer, anger that is nobody's fault, but is inevitably part of their argument, and you've got the kind of conflict that can ravage a relationship in its early days. Like, they could break up over a cigarette and a set of keys. After everything that happened, they could be strangers again.

13 thoughts on “#869-870 – yeah wow it really sucks

  1. My perspective on this is clearly vastly different from yours as I don't think smoking is at all too small a thing to break up over. I don't even have sympathy for smokers below the age of, like, 50. Sympathy for people struggling to quit, sure, but not anyone who is currently casually engaged in it.

    1. People make dumb mistakes in their teenage years and into their early twenties (and well beyond!). The problem with smoking is that nicotine is an incredibly addictive substance. So you combine the "I'ma live forever" nature of those years — which is a basic human behavior that's well documented; the brain hasn't even finished developing — with the many ways that smokers justify their habit to themselves, and you get people who aren't yet ready to acknowledge that the behavior is a problem. IE: smokers who're casually engaged in smoking, like Jane, rather than trying to quit, like Mar. Sometimes they even go back and forth, like I did. Took me three serious tries to quit (and about a dozen half-serious ones), including a stint of over *two years* smoke free before I went back to it for another few years after succumbing to temptation and bumming a single cigarette at a party. Addiction's a hell of a thing and, imo, it's deserving of sympathy even if you yourself managed to avoid making the choices that led to it.

      1. All you really said is that most people are idiots growing up, which I didn't need a study to tell me. Why is it so difficult for people on this site to believe that it's possible to live a life from childhood making actual reasonable decisions? Maybe I'm just too autistic to understand. I am, certainly, autistic. But to me, nothing you're saying sounds like a reasonable excuse. If you got addicted to smoking as a teenager, that's still something that was entirely preventable. I find it difficult to believe that there's a school in this country that didn't explain how addictive nicotine is. I never experienced this "Imma live forever" nonsense–I've been terrified of death since I was at least 5.

        1. What you're missing is compassion, bred out of self-awareness. Have you not made mistakes? Have those mistakes not seen blatantly, absurdly, /obviously/ a mistake in hindsight? Yes, some mistakes are worse than others and some are indeed stupider than others. But every single one was made in innocence, or at least, ignorance, naivety or hubris. To /not/ have made such mistakes is to have been another person, a wiser, soberer one… but how the hell would you become such person without making mistakes? Without experiencing consequences that give you perspective?

          I dislike smokers as well and I remember thinking like you, "duh, every single advert tells you that nicotine is capital B bad for you, how stupid must you be to willingly do it?" However, I am now old enough that I can see my own stupid mistakes, things I was doing all while judging smokers and which now make me grit my teeth in embarrassment and humiliation because they were so dumb and so preventable. That has made me more forgiving.

        2. Yeah, school told me a lot of things. Some of them were even true.

          I don't think being autistic should make one incapable of understanding that "I've never experienced" is not the same thing as "no one ever experienced" … perhaps it makes it difficult to empathize with others' experiences? I'm not versed enough in autism studies to be certain.

          I'm not trying to make a "reasonable excuse" for anything – these are comic characters, not real people. They act as proxies for the author and readers' shared experiences, but in the end they do what they do because Meredith says so. They ring true to me because of my lived experience; people come up with all kinds of reasons to smoke, and to engage in other self-destructive behavior. It is, broadly, a part of the human condition.

          If you lived your entire life making reasonable decisions, I congratulate you. I've actually done better than many in that area, but can't claim your level of perfection. However, a comic full of characters who all did that would a) not ring true to anyone who's spent time observing human beings as a group and b) be boring as shit.

    2. Jane pressuring Mar to smoke against her clear wishes would be unequivocally douchey. Mar telling Jane she's quitting, then lighting up and offering to share just a few hours ago, makes Jane's offer a lot more ambiguous.

      1. Agreed. It's *almost* as if this is a clever and nuanced story where fault seldom rests entirely on one side or the other 😉

  2. That little "bye" as the keys slip down KILLS ME, it's so beautiful and perfect.

  3. I always took Mar's "No I can't, I'm too angry" as an acknowledgment of exactly what Meredith is saying in the commentary. Basically "we can't have this fight right now because it won't be about what we're actually fighting about, it'll be about all this other shit, and I know that's potentially dangerous to our relationship, but I won't be able to help it, so I need to not have the fight right now."

    1. Well said, that's the vibe I get from this interaction also. And it's totally true. Fighting when you've both got "very elevated emotions" has never ended well in any situation I've ever been a part of. :

  4. The low-angle lighting in panels 9 and 10 is a really great way of dramatically heightening the tension and atmosphere in the piece.

  5. I love their faces visible through the grate. Hahaha!

  6. Smoking has always been about sharing solace and comfort in scary times, for me. For some people, it's camaraderie, safety, acceptance, comfort… happy nostalgia. I don't smoke anymore but will gratefully inhale secondhand smoke when given the opportunity. It doesn't have to be an act of violence against oneself or others nearby. Sometimes it's just sharing.

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