Boy, that is one clunky sentence in panel one. Why didn’t Batiuk just have her read the card out loud? All so those filthy newspaper casuals that haven’t been devotedly reading all week aren’t lost.
At least Donna likes the gift. And to me this feels different than Minty loving her stupid engagement tiger. In the hands of a more trustworthy author, this could be decent character work. Everyone thought Crazy was crazy for buying his wife salad dressing, but he knew her better than anyone and knew that she’d like it.
It’s an anniversary present, not an engagement ring/tiger. It can be a sentimental pun costing less than 10 dollars, if that’s how the couple rolls. I mean, my parents never get each other anything for their anniversary. They just use it as an excuse to go out to eat. At a buffet. Because my dad doesn’t have the patience to sit at a restaurant that takes your order. So it’s a plateful of lo mein and imitation crabmeat rangoon. The peak of romance.
Gifts are funny things. The closer you are, the more strange and esoteric your presents to each other can become. I gave my aunt a rock for her birthday this year. It was her favorite present, because my aunt is bonkers for interesting looking rocks. We get my dad a bale of socks every Christmas, and every Christmas he grins unironically and goes, “Gooood. I can use these!” One year my mom taped a tiny rubber hand to a CD album of I Walk the Line because I’d asked for a fistful of cash. Inside the case was the actual money.
My mom specializes in weird, yet meaningful, presents. One year for Christmas, she got me a book on Romanian orphanages, and wrote a little note inside, “Now you can learn about your heritage.” I laughed hysterically for ten minutes. All because my family has an inside joke dating back to the 1992 Olympics, where my mom swore that one of the gymnasts looked like me, and improvised an entire story about how I’d been adopted from Romania after failing to show any athletic talent.
The best gifts come with an unspoken message. And the message is, “I know you.”
All of this to say, if Donna had any personality whatsoever, and we had some prior establishment of Donna and Harry’s marriage, this wouldn’t feel so hollow and bland and borderline insulting. As it is, Epicus put it very well in a comment on yesterday’s strip:
Every Act III marriage is exactly the same. It wasn’t always like that during Act II, but now they’re all identical. Blissfully unaware lummox husband, perpetually disappointed-yet-patient wife tolerating her moron’s idiocy with wry resignation. Cayla, Holly, Donna, Jessica, Harriet…the only one that doesn’t fit the pattern is Mason & Cindy, where the roles are sort of reversed.