Paris Goodnight: If only the Far Side guy would come out of retirement

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 10, 2022

If there was one thing I wish was still in newspapers, it would be the Far Side cartoon. But I suppose if I was 70 years old or so and had $70 million or so in the bank, maybe I wouldn’t want to give up the retirement life either.

It wasn’t just for the chuckles at some of his outlandish works, but the real reason I would request Gary Larson come back is because it’s hard enough for fathers and sons to communicate, and with his daily panel, there was always something my dad and I could chat about. The setups never quite made sense to my mother either, so that added another angle for us to laugh about. How could someone not understand what Thak the caveman was lamenting about in his crude way?

Sometimes we could get into the finer details of the cartoon, but more often we would just laugh and ask the other if he’d seen that day’s installment.

Even if Larson has some of his work online now after being one of the few holdouts who didn’t embrace the new technology for years, it’s not quite the same as seeing that daily offering of a comic genius show up with all the other news of the world in a newspaper.

I also wish I would’ve spent more time when I was younger listening to my grandfather and father as they talked together under the shade trees. I’d probably be a lot better gardener if I would’ve followed in my grandfather’s footsteps at his farm instead of just spreading the fertilizer on rows of plants, which was my task, and then rushing off to play instead.

I do remember their drink of choice was Coca-Cola in the little bottles, not the RC Colas the kids were allowed to have out of the main refrigerator or the often flat soda left at the bottom of a 2-liter bottle. There must have been some magic in those small bottles because on the rare occasions we were allowed to get one out of the second refrigerator, they were like manna with a burn that tingled the back of your throat as it went down.

I’m not sure exactly what kinds of things they discussed, but my dad told one story about the time he looked over and noticed a tinfoil wad underneath my grandfather’s lawn chair. As someone who had gone through the Great Depression, my grandfather didn’t have as much confidence in the banks as the later generations. Wrapped in that tinfoil was a stack of cash that no one working in the field should be carrying around, but that’s just the way he kept it close to him so it wouldn’t disappear, as long as it didn’t slip out while he was sitting down for a break.

Besides that communication hurdle that fathers and sons sometimes have trouble getting over, there’s also that little game the generations play with each other. One usually lets the other win in things like basketball, up to a certain point. Then the older one realizes that no matter how hard he tries, he couldn’t win at one-on-one if he had to. It’s tough to come to the point of understanding that the days of “letting” the other win are over, and from then on, it’s just giving it your best shot, and hoping to not hurt yourself.

My youngest son got to that age of beating me on the court with little effort at a much younger age than I thought possible. It was a tough pill to swallow, but it was still a fun activity, like going fishing with your dad. If you didn’t catch the story by our outdoors writer Dan Kibler in last Sunday’s Post, you should look it up — it was quite a father/son tale about the excitement of a 91-year-old looking to pull in a big one.

One other angle that fathers and sons don’t always see eye to eye on is music. I tried my best to understand that previous generation’s music, and some of the offerings that the current young folks enjoy. Maybe you can explain the appeal of Stan Kenton or Rae Sremmurd. I’ll just stick with Pink Floyd.

Paris Goodnight is the interim editor of the Salisbury Post.