The big difference being that Karen is grown and has become wise and that's what she brings to the (drawing) table, while, for this partnership to work, Horwitz would need to hope his daughter retains her five-year-old sensibility for a couple of decades.
That might prove better for the strip than for the Horwitz household, though, since I read the strip and don't have to live in the household, you can guess where my hopes would lie.
As to the gag itself, I lived with my son's family for a little over half a year after the Cheney Administration tanked the economy, and was often the breakfast person.
A lot of the humor of Clifford consists of what a hassle it would be to have a dog that size, which is right in the wheelhouse for five-year-olds, which is why Clifford is so popular with them.
And I have to admit that, as I was scrambling eggs and dishing out fruit and watching Clifford, the issue depicted here occurred to me.
I guess we don't outgrow our five-year-old sensibilities so much as we learn to suppress them.
Which is a pretty good reason for keeping a five-year-old handy: So you can pretend not to be joining in the inappropriate giggling.
Meanwhile, under the desks
Ed Stein brings back another level of childish thinking with the latest episode of Sleeper Ave.
The duck-and-cover phenomenon has proven a rich source of mockery for the generations that came after me and Ed, but it was not particularly humorous at the time.
I've heard from other people in our demographic that they were frightened, if not actually "traumatized," by the drills, but I remember taking them matter-of-factly: The Cold War was in full bloom by the time I was old enough to reflect upon it, and so I didn't reflect upon it.
That's also part of a five-year-old's sensibilities.
For instance, I'm also not quite old enough to remember the polio epidemic itself, but I'm old enough to remember a little girl named Candy in my first grade class who had big clunky metal leg braces from it. And to remember that I just saw it as something that happened to some people.
There was, to use a highly technical term, some scary shit happening in those days, and so Candy had those braces and nuclear annihilation was out there somewhere, too.
Ed remembers it as a small child whose hometown had recently been devastated by a tornado, so I'm willing to defer to him on the fear issue, and maybe his having seen what a tornado does to a city is also what made him, even at that young age, perceive the futility of it all.
For my part, the first time I remember being concerned was slightly later, when people began to build fallout shelters, and just about the time I was wondering if we should have one, there was a Playhouse 90 broadcast, "Alas, Babylon" that raised the question in stark images that, as that link will tell you, made one helluvan impression on young minds.
So look: It's one thing for later generations to willfully misinterpret "Leave it to Beaver" and snicker over the G-rated sexual etiquette of the time, but, if they find duck-and-cover funny, that's on them, not us.
The nice thing is, by the time my kids were of that age, the sense that nuclear war was utterly inevitable had faded, but the idea of surviving a nuclear attack was also nearly abandoned and, until Gipper The Big Anti-Red Dog came along, the government had pretty much quit dealing with it by bullshitting the public.
As it happens, when my kids were about duck-and-cover age, I was doing a radio talkshow and had as a guest an official of whatever agency was tasked with promoting the Reagan solution of digging a hole, laying a door across it and covering it with dirt.
You are permitted to laugh at this excerpt from TK Jones' interview with Robert Scheer of The Los Angeles Times, because we sure did:
You can make very good sheltering by taking the doors off your house, digging a trench, stacking the doors about two deep over that, covering it with plastic so that rainwater or something doesn’t screw up the glue in the door, then pile dirt over it.
When I interviewed the regional spokesperson for the Department of Don't Worry Be Happy by phone, I remarked that I was looking out the studio window at Cheyenne Mountain, and suggested that, for those of us in Colorado Springs, there were not enough goddam doors in the world to prevent us from becoming a cloud of glowing vapor in the first strike, unless they decided to go for Omaha first and hit us second, which might buy us another 45 minutes or so.
His response was that the doors thing was kind of a desperation idea and that the real solution would be to get out of town before the missiles arrived.
Then, when I suggested that (A) once the birds were in the air, you couldn't drive fast enough even on a clear road to get out of their reach, and that (B) there weren't going to be any clear roads under those circumstances anyway, he conceded that the real real solution was to get the hell out of town some days before things got to that point.
Which seemed like a large, steaming pile of equally futile advice.
My kids really enjoyed this movie, which came out about a year later.
Now here's your moment of cheerful perspective: