As you know, I still think that we should be covering next year's strips right now. Were Lynn to be a bit more on the ball, we would thus be covering a visit by not only Connie and Lawrence but also Jim and Marian. Were this to be the case, I think that we'd be dealing with a strip that kind of explains why it is that Mike lost his enthusiasm for trumpet practice. You see, Jim is trying to teach the boy to play chess and when he tells Mike that he isn't going to learn anything about the game if the guy teaching it loses on purpose, Mike explains that he doesn't want to learn anything but just wants to win. This baffles the Hell out of Jim because of something that he shares with Phil. I should think that neither Richards really understands that Michael feels as if he's never allowed to win anything because people just plain hate him because he's young and they're not and want to make him suffer because of that. They also don't quite see that Michael only does do things because he fears being treated like crap more than he fears doing the boring, life-draining and fun-denying chore itself. What they see on the outside is a rather scruffy little boy who looks and acts like all the other scruffy little boys they see and, since they share the near-universal tendency to assume that children live a happy, worry-free existence, assume sight unseen that Mike isn't trudging grimly through a hellish life in which he's surrounded by people who want to eat his butt. They also tend to forget that he's got the same odd lack of grit and tenacity Elly has. While they reacted to adversity by muttering about how they were going to prove the people who say they can't win wrong, Elly and Mike and Liz look at the mountain ahead of them and pretty much piss themselves in despair.