Archie is marrying Veronica. For some odd reason, a little bit of my heart broke today.
It could be the hormones talking, but I wanted to sit down beside Betty and have a good cry into her Maid-of-Honour bouquet. I’ve always felt kinship with the happy-go-lucky, girl-next-door Betty as opposed to the raven-haired heiress vixen who is Betty’s “frenemy” (I think that is what the kids call it these days). The obvious choice to me, all along, has been Betty. She’s kind, nice, sweet, talented, and realistic. She would make a wonderful mom, and an understanding wife to the somewhat bumbling man that is Archie. Veronica was the kind of girl that guys dated, but ultimately left for one they could bring home to Mom. I always pictured Reggie finally getting to her and Mr. Lodge and Reggie being two peas in a golf-cart pod. I pictured Veronica as a jet-setting princess who couldn’t settle down just yet and one who would not want to ruin her figure by having kids too early. Part of me, though, always wondered if Reggie wouldn’t ultimately be tamed by the ever-level-headed Betty….
Ok, so I projected a little… its a romance story made for the ages, isn’t it?
I remember that self-help book a friend tried to pawn off on me some years ago, I think it was called “Why Men Love B******” and I thought on it a bit. And then I wondered why in the name of anything would I be spending so many orbits in my brain deciphering a comic story line? These people are not real, they are just characters in a long running comic book/strip that have been 17 again for nearly 70 years. I stopped reading them when I hit puberty, and moved on to Harlequin and other such pursuits. Ok, so I did look back once when that movie called “Return to Riverdale” was on TV. It was an attempt at a live-action Archie and friends that was more akin to The Flinstones live-action movies than the comics. It was terrible, but fueled the debate once again. Betty or Veronica? In the end, that question is…. Well, I’ll let you watch the movie or read the comic based on it. I don’t want to spoil the ending!
But, as I ruminated over the obvious foreshadowing to plot twists and surprises, I remembered the excitement I had when I was gifted with a new Archie comic, and how much fun it was to read about the constant rumpus he created between these two women, with Jughead eating his way through the background (Seriously, I think he has a tapeworm), Reggie being an arse, and Moose and Midge being cute together. It was fun to immerse myself in their world when I was so young, go on their adventures, laugh at the obvious and loudly proclaimed jokes, and revel in the happy endings. Over the years, I admit to picking one up on occasion in the supermarket check-out, and smiling at the memory before putting it back. I can remember it being wholesome for the most part (kissing was the most of it, I think, and even it was made to be more slapstick than dreamy). and, ok… so I had a secret crush on Reggie, he was dark and handsome, even if he was completely self-absorbed.
So what is it about this renewal of the Archie enterprise that has me so captivated? Is it because Archie is now entering the part of life I find myself in? Is it because suddenly, Archie is no longer 17 and carefree in High School? Is it because I am a sucker for a good ole romance, and everyone and their dog seems to have an opinion on who Archie should be marrying? Or is it simply that I am following the herd through a pop-culture announcement, playing into marketers hands like soft butter on popcorn…. No matter what, I am enjoying this trip back through my childhood reading days.
Now, as an adult, I applaud the writers and illustrators that have crafted such compelling characters and ideas over the years because in reality, I think that is what we are drawn to. Its like the characters of a really good book. We identify with them and they become part of our world as if a friend, not just part of a story in a book. As a writer, I strive to create such dynamic and complete characters. As a reader, I cherish such writing, because it enriches my life and creates fuel for the writer-fire.
Like thousands of others today, I am going to head to the local news stand and hunt for the issue, out today in general circulation, that has Archie on one knee in front of the wrong girl (ok, ok, I’ll admit, it could be interesting… maybe Betty will find a guy who will be loyal to her and live HEA, instead of pining for Archie, who’s heart has obviously chosen!). I will devour it like a young girl I once knew who could bury her head into an issue, and not emerge until she had poured over every line. I think I might just have to buy the next one too.
Who knows, maybe someday my son will tug on my sleeve and ask to buy an Archie comic from the newspaper stand. And you know what? We would likely read it together.