The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, June 30, 2003  

And a Very Gallant Physician

Remember the magazine Highlights for Children? Although every dentist I ever visited had Highlights in the waiting room, I don’t think I saw it anyplace else until about a month ago when I noticed several copies in the reception area of my doctor’s office.

I picked one up and saw they’re still publishing Goofus and Gallant®, a cartoon series comparing a good boy, Gallant, with a bad boy, Goofus. Not much has changed in the past 30 years, though I noticed people of color are now included in the drawings. The strip I saw, in the June 2003 issue, features a vaguely ethnic clerk working at a checkout counter. (G&G are still white, by the way.)

Then this morning I ran across a recent edition of “This Modern World,” Tom Tomorrow’s cartoon. The title? “Goofus and Gallant.” And the odd thing is that it’s dated June 3, the same date as my doctor’s appointment. Weird, huh?

It gets stranger. Or at least I think it does.

So backpedal to the doctor’s office. I’m flipping through Highlights and come across another regular feature, Hidden Pictures. Here the reader is challenged to find 12 common objects disguised within a large and graphically heavy drawing. I was unbearably frustrated by my inability to locate more than four or five of the hidden items and expressed that frustration to my doctor.

After wondering, aloud and in passing, whether my nephews and nieces ever read Highlights, my doctor joked, “Well, Jim, why don’t you take it home with you and spend some more time on it?” So I did. Take the magazine home, I mean. I didn’t get back to the puzzle.

And what arrives in today’s mail but a promotional package for Highlights magazine!

Come on, that’s just too weird. Do you think my doctor gets a cut if I subscribe? Did he send my name in or something? I know times are supposedly really tough right now for physicians -- the Philadelphia Inquirer threw them yet another pity party over the weekend -- but this is ridiculous.

[Post-publication addendum (July 3): More Goofus and Gallant: “Goofus Al and Gallant George,” by Eric Boehlert at, July 1.]

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