Two poignant cartoons

A mildly poignant Zippy, in which things have come to the point where Griffy almost misses Richard Nixon. And another deeply poignant episode in the Doonesbury account of Lacey and Jeremy’s adventures in senior dating.



Memories of Dick (and Jane, who came along by word association, but has nothing to do with either American politics or soft-serve ice cream).

To my (admittedly eccentric) mind, the strip is really about the roadside stand:

(#2) (#3)

From the Roadside Architecture site:

Singers Kreemy Deelite (now Chicken Coop), Oil City, PA. This photo of Singers Kreemy Deelite is from 2007. Since 2014, the building has housed the Chicken Coop. The top part of the cone sign was removed.

And about the Dairy Isle Ice Cream Stands, from that source:

The Dairy Isle chain was established in Wooster, OH in 1951. These ice cream stands featured giant ice cream cones piercing the roof at the front of the building. The building design was created by Clarence S. Shank and patented in 1957. The buildings were shipped as prefabricated kits and assembled on-site by the owner. There were more than 160 locations built. More than 40 locations represented at this page still exist. While most of them were apparently built in Ohio, there are plenty of examples elsewhere in the Northeast, Midwest, and a few in the South.

Senior dating and small talk. In yesterday’s (re-run) Doonesbury, we saw Jeremy (Cavendish) in a dither on a date (at an elegant restaurant) with Lacey (Davenport), who manages to maintain a wry poise. But the experience is humiliating for them both.

Today it gets worse. Jeremy abandons his attempt at making small talk, something he doesn’t really understand how to do. So he proposes to fall back on what he thinks men should be good at: talking about “serious stuff” (not small talk)  — things that he might have clippings on and notes for, like current politics, science news, business flashes, and so on (probably sports, too, though he must have enough sense to realize that sports talk — one of the things that performs the function of small talk among men, though men think of it as a deeply serious matter — is unlikely to engage Lacey).

Lacey is humiliated by all of this, but presses on, even in the face of the waiter Maurice’s solicitous concern about her return to dating.

Now, on the idiom small talk. Touched on briefly in this blog on August 1st in “Cartoon conversations”:

the social expectation in certain contexts is that people will “make conversation” — “make small talk”, as we say, with no point beyond behaving affiliatively.

(Direct verbing of the nominal small talk is attested, but the nominal is usually made available for verbal use by combination with the light verb make.)

From OED3 (Dec. 2012):

Light talk or conversation, esp. polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters, as engaged in on social occasions. Also fig. [first cite 1650; and note:]

1751   Ld. Chesterfield Let. 20 June (1932) (modernized text) IV. 1758   A sort of chit-chat, or small-talk, which is the general run of most mixed companies.

Note that after the fact, small talk makes sense (with a figurative, displaced, use of small, as ‘talk about small things’, itself with a figurative use of small, as ‘unimportant’), but it still is a conventionalized expression, an idiom, whose meaning cannot be predicted by regular principles from the meanings of its parts.

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