as a cartoonist.
In the mid 1980s I sent this in to a magazine, where my girlfriend, who had recently broken it off with me, was working. She wasn't on the editorial board, so I hadn't addressed it to her. Anyway, they rejected it, as I imagined they probably would (my first effort, after all). She rang me about a week later, to ask if we could meet. This got my hopes up. Perhaps she wanted a reconciliation (the cartoon was the furthest thing from my mind). No, she wanted to know how I could be nasty enough to send in such a thing. What did I think I was playing at? I was mystified, almost speechless. Surely, if anything, it was aimed at men, perhaps even myself. Had I missed some vital clue, broken some grave protocol?
Eventually, she admitted that it was a fairly accurate portrait... of her current boyfriend. I had heard rumors about her seeing someone. I knew him to speak to, but not nearly well enough to make assumptions about his character. Even if I had, I would never have presumed to parody him (utterly pathetic, someone slagging, without provocation, his ex-lover's lover). Furthermore, he certainly didn't look like the John Travolta wannabe in my drawing; if anything, his attire was the opposite: permanent student-drab, rather like myself. I burst out laughing, and continued till my ex asked me to shut up.
I was stupid, of course. A satirical cartoon, sent to an ex-lover's workplace, is going to damn well look like some kind of message, no matter how obscure or unlikely. And, as luck would have it, this one didn't seem obscure at all.
We've had a friendly enough relationship since, though we rarely meet (she doesn't live in the neighborhood any longer). I hope if she ever reads this she'll forgive me for airing it. I believe the joke was on both, or perhaps all three, of us.