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Sally Forth: Poster Child, Poster Adult

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on November 12, 2017

With the exception of time for air travel, from mid-October until now Sally Forth has taken place on a single day. That is almost certainly the longest “comic day” in the strip’s history (unless you count the time I wrote a three-month-long story about the day Ted Forth’s escaped enemy spies only to realize I was in the middle of a high-fever dream and had actually never written it at all).

And as in the strip, a great deal happened the day my father passed. And only at that day’s end—after the call from the hospital, after the gathering of relatives, after the talking with the hospital staff about our options, after my dad’s eventual passing, and after finding and visiting the funeral home to make all necessary arrangements—did I realize how much had occurred within a few hours.

Then suddenly, it stopped. There was nothing left to do but wait until the funeral. And so that night I went back with my brother to our childhood home. (Not yet knowing then this would eventually lead to the start of my saying, “I’m visiting my Mom” instead of “I’m visiting my folks.”) And like Ted says, everything in the house was both the same and different. It’s as if you had been nudged a few inches to the left and now you had a strange new perspective on the familiar.

My old room had long ago been turned into my dad’s home office/hoarding central. (And my brother’s room turned into the guest room.) But the wall of my old room is very much trapped in amber, featuring the same photos, artwork, and my brother’s initials which he had carved into the wood as a kid in an act that I can only describe as 70s claim-jumping. Of course, not everything remains. For starters, the Farrah Fawcett poster is long gone, which was fine since I wasn’t the one who put it up in the first place. And naturally most of the old furniture has been replaced with file cabinets. On the other hand, the bookshelf still holds some of my old toys and my collection of Star Wars Dixie Cups, which was a thing that happened and a ten-year-old me immediately decided he must have.

The R.E.M. poster (seen on the left in my previous apartment) wasn’t there, because I didn’t get into the band until college. Though once I started listening to them I never stopped (well, until the Up album), to the point that my constant playing of Lifes Rich Pageant—and The Smiths Louder Than Bombs—is something for which I still need to apologize to my roommate Andrew. (Side Note: Remember the Kevin Mitnick hacking scandal in 1995? Andrew was one of the very first people to raise the alarm.) I came across the poster during a junior year fall-break trip with friends. It was a limited edition, it was the first such poster I had ever purchased, and apparently it was inadvertently my last shot at an investment before the world’s economy collapsed.

On the last day of that trip, Tuesday, October 20th, we were heading back to Duke, our group split between two cars. One car went straight back. Ours stopped by a nearby dump to deposit the trash from the four-day weekend, only to then realize the car would no longer start. And so two of our friends—Tony and Charlie (Charlene, and combine their names, first and surname, to get the news reporter Toni Bowen in Judge Parker) went off to find a phone to call for a help (this being way before cellphones but way after civilization had spread far enough that apparently shouting did not work). When they eventually returned we learned two things: 1) Tony and Charlie had come across a diner, wherein they placed a call only after leisurely enjoying some homemade blueberry pie and 2) Something apparently had happened just the day before, thanks to a newspaper they brought back with them from the diner.

But as I said, fortunately I had thought ahead and started diversifying my investment portfolio with concert posters (and Star Wars Dixie Cups). That poster remained in all my dorm rooms, in my various apartments, and eventually in Ted Forth’s childhood bedroom.

In college the poster was a musical taste statement. In my apartments it was happy nostalgia (and a reminder of the volatility of stocks). In the comic it’s a little detail in a larger life. Our treasured possessions change in meaning over the course of our lives. Our surroundings, when they don’t change completely, keep changing in appearance even when not a single piece of furniture has been moved. It was my home, now it’s my childhood home. It’s where my folks live and now its where my mom lives. It’s still home, I just keep looking at it from different angles.

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4 Responses

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  1. Bill said, on November 12, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    Across multiple mediums, I’ve tried to let you know how connected I am to Ted’s tale (and your story) to the point that I fear you’ll eventually think I’m some kind of stalker. So in advance, I’ll say: not stalking – huge fan of great storytelling and sharing experiences. Now that that is out of the way, you have GOT to find a way to tell the story of the “Penthouse shoot” in Sally Forth (I know you can’t use the same “items” on the table, but this would be a great Hil story). The Penthouse shoot story ranks as one of the best tales I’ve read in a long time (and I smile at how wrong the commenters were about your “Cat pee poem book.”).

    Again, thanks for sharing this experience through Ted.

  2. Jym Dyer (@jymdyer) said, on November 12, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    Small world, I know Tsutomu and Dan, the guys who set out honeypots that caught Mitnick.

  3. Brent Dunn said, on November 12, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    I love this arc, and the additional background you are providing via the blog posts.

    When I saw the strip, I wondered about the poster — the lettering didn’t seem like R.E.M. It’s nice to know it’s based on something real, and to know the background on it.

  4. jmichaeljones57 said, on November 12, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    I had a Desiderata poster in mine. My mother left it up for a long time, she liked it. I used to do leatherwork, and she proudly displayed the clock I made her with a flying eagle on the leather clockface, and the table lamp I made featuring a miniature leather saddle, fully tooled on its seat, leg shields and stirrup covers. When we finally sold the house everything was pretty much the same as when I left for college. I don’t think it was in order to preserve memories, however; I think she just liked the way she decorated and didn’t see a need to update anything.


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