Juxtapose This!: A Tale As Old As Time...
So I wake up this morning, and my webcomic is still asleep. No problem, I think. Let it get a little sleep. It's been working hard, what's the harm of a few extra hours of shut-eye for my hard-working little darling? So I crawl out and go for my morning run (which, by the way, I only go on because I have repetitive stress injury from drawing and typing â€“ but, you know, these are the compromises you make in a good relationship).
When I get back, it's still sacked out, so I throw together some breakfast, figuring it's probably my turn, anyway. I'm pulling the last piece of toast out of the toaster when, sure enough, my webcomic straggles in.
"God," it says, rubbing its knuckles against its two-day stubble. "I am so hungover. Christ. Are my eyes bloodshot? They feel bloodshot."
I tell it that, no, as usual, it looks great.
"Yeah, sure, and so do you," it mutters. Then it takes all the toast and goes back into the bedroom.
At this point I guess I'm a little miffed, maybe, but everybody who's gone to college knows that mornings can be a little tough, so I hang in there. A shower and a change of clothes, and the webcomic will be up and running, just like the day we first met. The fans will be happy, the hits will accumulate, and that special spark that used to flare up when we locked glances will spring back to life.
After I've cleaned up it comes out again, this time wearing a towel and heading into the bathroom. Lately I've tried to drop hints that maybe it could stand to lose a little weight, maybe hit the gym or cut back a bit on its evenings out, but so far I don't think it's sunk in. Still, I definitely have eyes only for it, but you know, you worry.
"You know, honey," I mention, casually, "you're supposed to update tonight at midnight."
"Like hell I am," it snaps, and then slams the door. It stays in there forty-five minutes, and uses all the hot water. It doesn't replace the toilet paper roll.
That afternoon, I go grocery shopping, rearrange the shed, weed the garden a little bit. Through the living room window I can see the webcomic, kicked back on the recliner, watching TV Land and ESPN. It looks like it's going through a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
By this point it's almost five pm, and it's got just seven hours until it's supposed to update. I'm getting a little nervous â€“ I mean, we have bills to pay, the kids' college tuition to think of, and wasn't it the one whose idea it was to switch to Fridays?
I fume about this all while I'm making dinner â€“ its favorite, bowtie pasta with marinara sauce. We sit down and eat in silence for a couple of minutes. The webcomic kind of pushes the food around on its plate and says something about checking the score on the Mariners game.
Finally I can't handle it anymore.
"What's happening to us?" I choke, into my peas. "We never talk! We don't even look at each other anymore! I can't stand watching you let yourself go to seed like this! I thought we were forever â€“ I thought we were six complete chapters of twenty-plus non-progressive scan 150 dpi jpegs! And now it's like we're strangers! I don't even know who's doing your fill-in guest spots these days!! Give me one reason I shouldn't walk out that door right now." Then I burst into my tears and knock over my wine glass. (Luckily it's a Cabernet Sauvignon and the tablecloth is dark blue.)
The next thing I know, the webcomic is on its knees in front of me, gently massaging my right elbow (the one with the neoprene brace).
"Baby, baby," it says. "How could you think things like that? Don't you bottle up your feelings away from me like that, ever again. Baby, when we went public, I swore to be faithful and true. You think I could just forget that?"
It gives me that drop-dead smile, you know, the one I'm such a sucker for. Wow, I think. One look, and I'm nineteen years old all over again.
"Listen, baby," it tells me, gently stroking a tear from my cheek. "I've just been takin' it easy, saving myself. Saving myself for you."
"Oh, webcomic," I sigh, and then we have this amazing, passionate kiss that lasts about ten minutes. Then we snuggle up and watch You've Got Mail until it's time for bed.
Right before midnight it goes and updates, and I hear it creep back into the bedroom and crawl in beside me. It wraps its arms around me, gives me one last smooch, and then settles in. And as I drift off to sleep, I think:
I'm the luckiest cartoonist in the world.