There are some things that Tom Batiuk is quite good at drawing. Everyone knows about the bricks, and our own TFH likes the way he draws the back of the ear. He’s also really, really good at drawing bored people, especially in groups. The expressions in panel one make up a nice image gallery of people who are bored out of their skulls. Some of them are practically melting in their desire to escape, but there’s no mistaking the dreary ennui etched in their faces. (Les and Linda in panel two are excellent examples of faces drawn in such a way that you want to punch them…so that might be another thing he’s good at drawing.)
Earlier I questioned whether there had to be a face-to-face meeting with parents to discuss the senior trip, and today the answer is clearly “No, it’s not necessary at all. A one-page printout would do perfectly, and not inconvenience everyone to attend an after-hours meeting. However, Les has some ‘jokes’ to deliver and he can’t do that in a printed sheet, so a meeting there will be.”
And not just one meeting. Even a cursory glance shows that the crowd in panel one has been replaced by a completely different set of parents in panel two. Meaning that apparently one crowd goes in to get smirked at by Les, and then they leave and another bunch comes in…I have this horrible idea this goes on for hours, long into the night, with Les delivering his idiotic quips over and over, each time with the idea that maybe this time someone will be smart enough to appreciate him and let out a hearty laugh. What a sad, delusional, detestable man.
I have no idea why Linda is there. Is she supervising? Is she going to be speaking next? If some parent stands, yells “For God’s sake, doesn’t this guy ever shut up?” and starts wailing on Les with a folding chair, is she there to try and stop it? (Bad Linda! Les will never learn if you interfere!)
One entirely plausible scenario is that Principal Nate called Linda into his office and said, “I want you to go to the meeting and smirk at his ‘jokes.’ You’ll know when he makes them–there’ll be a long pause and a smirk. I’m not asking you to laugh, I’m not that cruel. But last year I had two damned days of Les whining about how no one appreciated him because no one laughed at his–” Principal Nate waves his hand in a dismissive gesture. “–jokes.” Long pause, and Principal Nate’s face hardens, his stare intensifies. “I’m not going through that again.”
Principal Nate is lucky. He can choose that path. Everyone else…not so lucky.