Saturday, 14 January 2017

Carson Grubaugh's Cerebus Re-Read: "Rick's Story"

(from Carson's Re-Read Blog, August 2016)

"You heard it here, everyone, "evil misogynist" Dave Sim made my mom cry."

Cerebus Vol 13: Going Home
Cerebus Vol 14: Form & Void
Cerebus Vol 15: Latter Days
Cerebus Vol 16: The Last Day


Jeff Seiler said...

Thank you, Carson, for reprinting that part of that essay. I think it was, certainly, one of the most heartfelt essays Dave has ever written.

It reminds me of a while back, when I responded to a post (or comment) that Dave had put up here, regarding women who try to work and rear a family at the same time.

Now, usually, I am on the same page with Dave about that dichotomy. But, my experience, growing up, being reared, was actually very similar to his.

My mother ran a boarding kennel for dogs and the occasional cat, all throughout my childhood. I watched my father (heck, helped him) build it. She did dog-grooming. But, every day, when we got off the schoolbus and ran down the gravel driveway, elbowing each other to try to be the first one to the tv to turn on the Batman rerun, we always knew that she was there.

Yeah, she was down the path, working in the kennel, but we knew. She. Was. There.

And, trust me, my mother had a presence like no other woman I have ever known. She single-handedly eliminated two women from my life--the student-teacher I went on one date with in my senior year of high school and the professor I had a relationship with in my senior year of college. The latter one moved away to California.

My mother was fierce. Talk about a mama bear. She once stalked off of the the ninth green at the country club, putter in hand, to tell the cook at the grill by the swimming pool that he WOULD cook us kids some hamburgers, on the tab, out there to tell about it.

To be fair, she probably had had a bad first nine.

When she was dying of ovarian cancer, back in '91, I drove though the night to go see her and my dad. As it turned out, she was still days away and, as I wish to do, was at home, where she would die. I folded out the sleeper sofa and went to sleep.

A few hours later, I awakened because something large had landed on the bed. It was her breathing apparatus (meant to strengthen her lungs from the fluid in her chest cavity. And she said, "Oh, did I wake you?" And then, we talked. About nothing in general, and everything.

She died a few days later, when I was back in Tulsa.

Why am I, you guys and gals may ask, relating this, at length, today?

Because, a while back, when Dave posted something about how women shouldn't or can't mix work and family, and that feminists often put work before family (with which I agree), I told a similar story about my mother.

Dave responded that anecdotal evidence to the contrary of his position was not appreciated. No offense to my mother, of course.

Well, at that time, I forgot about his essay reprinted above.

Now, though, Dave,

I think you owe me an apology.

EVERY son should be allowed to immortalize his mother, if she is worthy.

I think both yours and mine were.

Dominick Grace said...

Hmmm. Perhaps I am misremembering, but did Dave not say subsequently that his panegyric to his mother was not really true?

Erick said...

I can not quite recall the exact quote but I believe that it goes like this 'The true test of first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in your mind at same time and still retain the ability to function'.
I am pretty sure that is a F. Scott Fitzgerald quote. Go figure

One other thing:
a person who acts obsequiously toward someone they deem important to gain advantage is called a sycophant

Tony Dunlop said...

Not directly on-topic, but somehow I missed the "Guys" review the first time around. Just one comment for now (beyond how overlooked that brilliant volume tends to be in the overall series): Carson doesn't recognize Greggo, and the drawing style of whoever-it-was (Jana somebody, right)? Someone send this kid a run of Very Vicky - STAT! (Anyone who was a teenager in 1996 is a "kid.")

Travis Pelkie said...

Yay, I'm a kid!

Dave Sim said...

Jeff - That essay was definitely written a) to try and find a positive spin on my mother and b) before my mother retired and both she and my Dad went seriously, alcoholically, "wonky" which made what few positive things I had said about my mother in the essay REALLY REALLY pointless.

I have no shortage of theories as to why that happened, but they're all just that: theories. They were very private people who also demanded a lot of attention. "Well" you know "Let's talk about your excessive consumption of prescription medicines and alcohol". Well, no that was private. That was none of my business. Well, in that case, I really don't have a lot to say to you. You want me to sit here and watch you drink like fish and commiserate with you about how rough a life you have and I'm not seeing it.

I was really the only person there on a semi-regular basis -- I could, cordially, get through a dinner with them about once a month if I had a lengthy enough inventory of innocuous conversation stored up (it took me several years to lose the habit of making a mental note of innocuous conversation points).

I have nothing good to say about either of them. I don't hate them. They were just non-people in my life who I was obligated to see on a semi-regular basis until I finally had to tell them that they would have to do something about their alcoholism or that was it, I was never going to see them again. That was (unfortunately,I suppose?) a "no-brainer": their son or alcohol? 'Bye Dave. That was in 2003. They both died in 2006, my mother on July 7th and my father on September 18th. My aunt called to tell me. I felt absolutely nothing. They had already been dead for three years as far as I was concerned.

I understand your urge to make me over in your image. Believe me, that's the story of my life: "IF ONLY Dave Sim behaved and made the same choices and thought the same way I do, how much better a person he would have been/is/would be." Well, maybe. I'm certainly aware that having Zero Reaction to the thought of my father or my mother is EXTREMELY ODD in our society, but I'm just not a person who pretends to react the way that I'm expected to react. Reality is too important for me.

To me, your way lies feminism : pretend this makes sense because everyone else is. No, for me, the last thing you want to do in a situation where everyone else is pretending is to pretend yourself. Far better to be the last non-feminist and true to reality than be just another feminist because it's expected of you.

No apology. Not even close. Sorry about that.

Erick said...

I think this is where some 'syco' as in sycophant, chimes in and says 'Good ole curmudgeonly Dave, you will never change! LOL LOL LOL' Then we get a 1970's TV style freeze frame with everyone smiling. Uh, huh.

ya done broke some hearts again Dave - but they will recover. They always do

Jeff Seiler said...

Dave--Fair enough, no apology. That was probably a little heavyhanded of me. But my "immortalizing" my mother doesn't mean I was trying to "make you over in [my] image. But I had forgotten about those last years in your parents' lives and how bad things had become.

Mea culpa.

Carson Grubaugh said...

Well, sincere or not on Dave's part, my mom knew I meant the words sincerely. Ya'll are depressing ;b

The strain of innocuous familial conversation is very real. I lost like four days of work over the holidays to teeeeediiiious conversations. Decorating, medical procedures, a litany of numbers and letters supposedly associated with firearms, these things are just not my cup of tea.

Dave Sim said...

My mother was a very good school secretary. Forest Hill Public School (when my sister and I were going there: just across the street from our house at 282 Westmount Rd. E. -- formerly Filsinger Road) Laurentian School, Queensmount School.

She was named K-W Oktoberfest Woman of the Year (Labour category) one year, which requires a huge number of people nominating you and voting for you. When she retired, there was this massive pile of testimonials and presents, absolutely RAVING about her. She decided to have a retirement party at my sister's (then) place in Caledonia, tent out on the lawn, huge spread of food, lots of booze. Our already collapsing family came (a dozen people?). Thing was, no one from my mother's school did. She missed the point that being enthusiastic about a co-worker with greeting cards and presents in the staff lounge at break time or lunch is one thing and driving from Kitchener to Caledonia is quite another thing.

They aren't your family and they aren't your friends. They're the people you work with. They're only there because they're PAID to be there.

She really thought that because she lived "just down the street" from Queensmount School that the teachers and staff would drop in and visit her from time to time. Uh. How many of YOUR co-workers did YOU go and see after they retired or transferred out of the school? Right. Zero. They aren't family and they aren't friends. They're co-workers.

That's where she put her heart and soul: the schools she worked at.

I really think God issues you the soul that you get and it usually has very little to do with souls of the people in your family. I think it's one of God's core points: you are your soul. Family is just family.

The YHWH and most women, conversely, I think, believe that people are the same as plants. You came out of this woman's womb, so you are this woman's possession, an extension of her body, bearing the same relationship that a branch does to a tree and a bud does to a branch and a leaf does to a bud.

I think that's where most if not all family stress comes from: people being true to their own souls instead of acting as if they're plant-like extensions of their mothers.

Which, historically, is what we've done as individual members of our civilization: pretend to be One Big Happy Multi-Faceted Extension Of Mom for the sake of not hurting her feelings. However, once you start politicizing that: "You must be a feminist because it will hurt your mother deeply if you aren't" which is what my mother tried to pull then I think there's a definite "best before" date.

There was for me, anyway: March 27, 2003.

Dave Sim said...

Carson - Sorry for bumming you out. Seriously. I thought "I just wrote about all this crap recently, didn't I?" If it's any consolation I'M not bummed out. Quite the opposite. As soon as a I walked out on my family, it was like breaking up with Susan. I DON'T HAVE TO PRETEND ANY MORE! ABOUT ANYTHING! I CAN ACTUALLY BE WHO I AM AND BE TRUE TO MY OWN SOUL!

I can't imagine ever putting that in jeopardy again.

Carson Grubaugh said...

I meant the collective response, a demand for an apology, an oh-he-didn't-mean-it, incessant trolling, etc. It was just funny. A reminder that we Dave Sim fans sure love to debate, drop fact factual knowledge, pontificate, and generally be contentious.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Yes, it is quite funny!

-- Damian

Dave Sim said...

To me, it's also a Comic Art Metaphysics thing. It's very strange to spend an hour or so a day on a site devoted to your work. It's like going to school but knowing all the answers.

And, because of my faith in God, I see His hand in these kinds of things. A gentle lob over the net. "Oh, you want me to talk about that?" Uh, sure. I can do that. Type type type type type.

Jeff doing a "let's all celebrate our mothers like Dave" thing was in a bit of a different category, potentially. If I just let it go, it looks like a back-door endorsement of feminism. And one of the big reasons to spend an hour a day here is to keep from getting rewritten as a feminist (or hopefully rewritten as anything else: each CEREBUS fan having a mental image of me which is often, to say the least, unfamiliar to me).

Is it a test? Did I write inaccurately about my parents and I'm supposed to fix it? No time to really examine it, just type type type type type.

Erick said...

Not to put too fine of a point on this, but if you care about being "rewritten as a feminist" then you are showing emotion. Emotion puts you in touch with your feminine side whether you like it, deny it, or not. From there, it's just a hop skip and a jump to being labeled a feminist or at the very least sensitive and or effeminate.

Jeff Seiler said...

Dave, I think we should *all* celebrate our mothers. They gave birth to us (well, in my case, adopted me), and they pushed us out of the nest.

Their lives, apart from us, were theirs. But, they lived their lives *for* us.

You knew your mother. And, not to conflate, I knew mine. (Well, not my birth mother; as, I was adopted.) But, we (again, not to conflate, both of our mothers had personalities that were nearly unknown to us), both of us loved, at one time or another, *loved* our mothers. For very different reasons. And, I mean different between you and me; I mean I loved her for one thing and then a completely other one. You may have, probably did, love your mother for different reasons than did I.

Or, not too different.

Dave, you were very, very disappointed by your parents as they aged and you were disappointed by their choices. Who wouldn't be, given their choices?

My dad drank way, way too much after my mother died, after he married the...creature...from hell.

My mother died early. Too early. Mostly from genetics.

Your mother died, at least, from life choices, earlier than you would have liked. And, from other things.

Regardless, they (our mothers) moved on, and, here we are.

I miss my mother every day. Despite your words, I suspect you do, too. Miss yours.

This is not, not, a feminist diatribe.

This is me, honoring you for having once honored your mother.

Isn't that what we're supposed to do?

Dave Sim said...

Erick - No question about it. Which is why I'll have to fight tooth-and-nail for the rest of my life to try to keep that from happening. It's got nothing to do with emotion. It's my adherence to reality and the importance that I attach to reality. I have to hold the line against feminism because no one else will.

Feminizing the unfeminized is the first priority of the feminized. I can't see that changing for the rest of my life.

Jeff - Well, that's what my concern is. You ARE attempting to conflate my mother with the mother who adopted you and are trying to turn it into a feminist "We All Support Our Mothers". Say whatever you want about YOUR mother, but please don't try to drag me into it.

My mother was a school secretary. She definitely put in the hours required on housework and related endeavours, but -- at essence -- she was a school secretary. And my father and my sister and I were all aware of that. Which was a leading cause of the unhappy end that she brought herself to.

This is really what my hour a day on AMOC comes down to: try to be informative and social about CEREBUS and just accept the fact that in a Feminist Theocracy, all conversational roads lead to feminism and the attempt to feminist-ize Dave Sim.

Not going to happen, guys. Sorry.