What’s Going On In Mary Worth? Why did Helen Moss have to leave? April – June 2022


A warning before we start. The current-as-of-June story in Karen Moy and June Brigman’s Mary Worth includes a woman who’s been hit, hard enough to need hospitalization. The story is not (so far) about that. It’s backstory, the reason that physician assistant Jared Mylo would get to know her. I don’t want people caught unprepared by sensitive material, is all.

So this essay should catch you up on Mary Worth for the middle of June 2022. A more useful essay is probably here if you’re reading this after about September 2022. And if any news about the comic strip breaks I’ll put it at that link, too.

Mary Worth.

3 April – 18 June 2022.

Toby Cameron was teaching art at the Santa Royale Community College. The crush her student Cal has on her, and some chance encounters on the campus raise suspicions in the mind of Helen Moss, Community College lifer. There’s nothing going on, but she threatens to tell management what she imagines is.

[ As Toby Dreams ... ] Onlookers chant 'Toby and Cal, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g, first comes love, then comes marriage ... then comes Toby with a baby carriage!' As she dreams she appears in a tree with Cal, and he reaches in to kiss her, and she falls, or leaps, from the tree. In the last panel she's fallen out of bed, waking herself, as Ian sleeps soundly beside her.
Karen Moy and June Brigman’s Mary Worth for the 10th of April, 2022. Did not know Mary Worth even made Welsh rarebit!

Toby has nightmares about may happen if Moss tells on her. So that’s another wonderful Mary Worth Dream Sequence, with visions of her losing her job and her husband and having schoolkids taunt her for k-i-s-s-i-n-g. Her fear may seem exaggerated. But remember in Funky Winkerbean how Susan Smith had to leave her job at the school when she, an unattached adult woman, kissed Les Moore, a widower attached only to Dead Lisa Moore. But surely that was a special case: how could coworkers respect someone to chose to interact with Les Moore? (Don’t cry for Smith. She got to leave Funky Winkerbean entirely after the thing we were told was a scandal somehow.)

She wakes from one nightmare to another: how to avoid telling her husband, who loves and respects and supports her, about the thing making her most miserable. She visits Mary Worth, who advises she tell her husband, who loves and respects and supports her, about the thing making her most miserable. And it turns out Toby only needs one week and one visit to do the obvious and needed thing.

Toby: 'In the past Ian did have a student who got too friendly, but I'm not sure how he'll feel about being in the same situation!' Mary Worth: 'Are you afraid he'll react badly?' Toby: 'I'm afraid he'll think less of me if I don't handle this properly!' Mary Worth: 'He'll want to help. *Talk* to him, dear.'
Karen Moy and June Brigman’s Mary Worth for the 15th of April, 2022. Toby’s referring to a story back in winter 2018-2019 where a student pretended to be interested in Ian to get a better grade. It’s a neat subtle bit of continuity that in this 2018-19 story Ian accepted the idea a student was interested in him and never considered the matter any more deeply than that.

Ian’s not worried about a student having a crush on Toby. He is shocked to hear of Helen Moss’s suspicions, though. To be specific, he’s shocked that it’s Helen Moss. In a sequence that seems like it’s setting up more depth than it does, we see Moss looking through her college yearbook. It has photographs of her in her student days and Ian in his young-instructor days. As she looks at this Ian enters her office. They embrace, and he tells her this has to stop.

And so it does. We don’t see or hear anything of what they say, not directly. In a Mary’s Muffins Meeting, Toby summarizes. Back in Ian’s days at Franklin (I don’t know if that’s the name of a college or the town the college was in), he flirted with Moss, a student, and they became close. Then he left, for a new job, and never imagined how much he hurt her. And … that’s it? Toby guesses that Moss realized Ian was too clueless to realize he was leading her on. This seems like a charitable assessment, but I suppose we all need some charitable interpretations.

Also I’m not sure that “person who is vigilant about instructors not taking advantage of students” is necessarily the villain. Yes, she was wrong about Toby. But her base stated concern was reasonable and she did see (coincidental) circumstances suggesting Toby might be giving Cal special treatment. I’m not even sure she knew Toby was connected to Ian Cameron, which would have made clear whether Moss was bugging Toby particularly or whether she’s like this for anybody.

[ When Mary suggests that Ian visit Toby at work to discourage her student Cal ... ] At the end of her class Toby sees Ian visit. He goes up to her, and they hug, and kiss. Maddie, a student, says, 'Ewww! That's disgusting! How can she kiss that old guy?' Cal: 'I know, right? So gross! ... Hey, Maddie, I'm going to grab some food. You want to join me?' [ Meanwhile, Helen Moss is also moving on ... ] We see her leaving an office apparently empty except for an old yearbook on the desk.
Karen Moy and June Brigman’s Mary Worth for the 15th of May, 2022. I know I talked about this last time but the design of that Santa Royale Community College sign, with “College” so small, is so weird it makes me think it must be referencing some real, specific thing. Anyway, I am genuinely disturbed that Helen Moss is abandoning her yearbook, although since the book says “USC” and we’re told she was involved with Ian when he was at “Franklin” I guess … it’s a yearbook from a different school?

But that’s settled. So Toby worries, what if Cal tries hitting on her again? At Mary Worth’s suggestion she has Ian stop in at the end of her class sometime, when they can kiss where everybody sees. Cal is horrified to learn Toby is into olds, so asks the nearest available woman of similar age to have a food with him instead.

The next we see Helen Moss she’s packing her things, and thinking of how she’s thankful for the opportunity to learn, and that she only has “memories … some of which I’ll leave behind”. Having to leave the Santa Rosa Community College seems a bit harsh for being mistaken about the wife of your 30-years-ago-crush flirting with a student. But, you know, that Susan Smith rule. It’s impossible to continue at a workplace once someone learns you’ve had emotions with another person. Or it could be I’m mistaken. There’s a lot we haven’t seen on-screen here. Could be hear leaving is a coincidence and she happened to be moving to a bigger school.


With the 22nd of May, that story closes. The 23rd starts the current story, about Dawn Weston and her boyfriend Jared Mylo. And this is a story which has as a key character a woman who’s been hospitalized because of someone beating her. I’m setting the rest behind a cut tag for people who do not need that in their recreational reading.

Continue reading “What’s Going On In Mary Worth? Why did Helen Moss have to leave? April – June 2022”

What’s Going On In Mary Worth? What is this ‘school management’ thing? January – April 2021


The current story in Karen Moy and June Brigman’s Mary Worth has Toby afraid someone will report her to “school management”. She’s teaching at a community college. While I suppose the school has management, every school I’ve ever had dealings with has called that administration. It’s such a weird and needless error I’m wondering if this is some odd localism. Like, I’ve never lived in southern California. I don’t know if community colleges there call it management instead? The way there’s some places where, like in Gil Thorp, the school sports teams go on to playdowns rather than playoffs?

I’m also stumped by the sign outside Santa Royale Community College. It has “Santa Royale Community” in large print on two lines, like a normal place, but then “College” tucked off to the right in half-size print. It was done several times, so this doesn’t look like it patched an art error. When I spot something that unnecessarily wrong I doubt my own judgement: is this alluding to something I happen not to know about? Maybe I’m an easy audience. But when I get mean in my snarking I want it to be about a writing issue deeper than a one-line correction in the script.

So this should get you caught up to early April in Mary Worth. If you’re reading this after about July 2022, there should be a more up-to-date plot recap here. Thanks for following along.

Mary Worth.

16 January – 2 April 2022.

Wilbur Weston had fallen, to great acclaim, from a cruise ship and was lost at sea. This after Estelle had given in to his and Mary Worth’s nagging to forgive his jealous, possessive, often drunk misbehavior and gone to sea with him. When she refused his way-too-hasty proposal he went off in a drunken stupor, climbed the railings, and disappeared.

He washed ashore on a dessert island. He assumed it was deserted but three-day pleasure cruises out of southern California don’t go past many uncharted islands. The place was a resort island owned by the cruise line, and they’re able to sort him out and get him home in a week.

A week that Wilbur’s daughter Dawn, and Estelle, and Mary Worth have spent mourning and telling each other how this wasn’t any of their faults. Their mourning turns to joy and then exasperation when he walks in the door. Joy, yes, for the obvious reasons. Exasperation because why didn’t he tell them he was not dead? He wanted to surprise them. I get the impulse, but this is another reminder that if you ever catch yourself doing something that would happen in the sitcoms you watched as a kid? Stop what you are doing. The women’s exasperation and anger is short-lived, though. I mean, what are you going to do, hold Wilbur to a consequence for needlessly traumatizing you?

Mary Worth: 'C'mon, Estelle, I'm angry just like you, but this is Wilbur we're talking about. You forgive him, don't you?' Estelle: 'I *want* to. I'm just not felling it yet!' Dawn: 'I guess it'll take time.' Mary Worth: 'At least we have each other through all the highs and lows of life with Wilbur!'
Karen Moy and June Brigman’s Mary Worth for the 2nd of February, 2022. Look, I’m a great believer in forgiveness, even after grievous harm. But you know what I need? Some expression of regret, at minimum for screwing up. We never saw Wilbur even have a moment where he realizes why his clever idea didn’t land like he expected. So this hasn’t done much to encourage readers to regret cheering on Wilbur’s plunge into the ocean.

Left unmentioned except by comics snarkers is that Wilbur Weston’s side job is his “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” column, interviewing people who survive disasters. And that he got the idea for this column the last time he survived a cruise ship disaster. (That one was his boat capsizing, sadly not in any major shipping lanes.)


With the decision that that’s just Wilbur his story wraps up the 6th of February. The current story began the 7th of February, with Toby Cameron’s birthday party. It’s one of those where she’s haunted by feeling age. Still, her new job, teaching art at Santa Royale Community College, is going well.

One of her mixed-media students, Cal, is very happy with her instruction, and asks for her feedback about his sketchbook after class. They have a pleasant talk, she encouraging him and he lapping up her enthusiasm. He’s also seen the animal figurines on her web site, which lets us know he’s got at least a bit of a crush on his instructor. Cal accidentally tossing a Frisbee into Toby, and her returning it, the next day, reinforces that for him. And she’s glad to show off the Frisbee skills she honed in her youth; little feels better than turning out to still have it.

After Cal stays after class again, talking mechanical pencils, one of the other teachers stops in to disapprove. Helen Moss, Community College lifer, sneers that he’s too young for her, and warns her against the relationship. This sends Toby’s mood into a tailspin; the next day, she goes off to sit on a hill and think. Cal notices her and goes over to ask how she is. Moss sees this and scolds her for giving a student “special treatment”.

Toby, sitting on a hill beside Cal: 'Even though I came up here to be alone, I'm glad to have company, and I'm glad you're here. I had the worst day recently, and it got me down, but maybe you're right and I should just ignore it.' Cal; 'Yeah ... think of the good days! There are a lot of 'em!' Toby: 'Now that I think about it ... there are!' Cal: 'It'd be a crime for someone great like you, Ms C, to feel down in the dumps for too long!' Cal; 'It happens to the best of us, but that helps! Thanks, Cal.' Meanwhile ... Helen Moss watches through binoculars, and thinks, 'I *see* you!'
Karen Moy and June Brigman’s Mary Worth for the 27th of March, 2022. Part of Toby’s bad day was almost causing a traffic accident by running a stop light. So I agree with letting that slide off your back, apart from the reminder to pay attention to the road. But there is a running theme in Mary Worth advice to only think about happy stuff and that gets a little creepy. Anyway I love that Helen Moss brings her binoculars in to work at the community college just in case she can catch someone canoodling.

Moss warns that if she keeps it up she’ll report Toby to “school management”. Toby tries to work out what this means. Like, is that the school administration? Might she lose her job over this? What if Ian believes Moss that she’s building a relationship with a student? (This seems extreme, but a few years back Toby did, wrongly, suspect Ian of having something going on with one of his students.) So Moss has sent her into a spiral of doubt and fear for the future.

And that’s where the board pieces stand as of early April.

Dubiously Sourced Mary Worth Sunday Panel Quotes!

  • “The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea.” — Vladimir Nabokov, 16 January 2022.
  • “I gotta keep breathing, because tomorrow the Sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?” — Chuck Noland (Cast Away), 23 January 2022.
  • “The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.” — Ashley Montagu, 30 January 2022.
  • “One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and be understood.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca, 6 February 2022.
  • “Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years.” — Ausonius, 13 February 2022.
  • “Take the attitude of a student. Never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.” — Og Mandino, 20 February 2022.
  • “I don’t see myself as extremely handsome. I just figure I can charm you into liking me.” — Wesley Snipes, 27 February 2022.
  • “In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter … for in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.” — Khalil Gibran, 6 March 2022.
  • “Accusations fit on a bumper sticker. The truth takes longer.” — Michael Hayden, 13 March 2022.
  • “Where words are restrained, the eyes often talk a great deal.” — Samuel Richardson, 20 March 2022.
  • “Remember we’re all in this alone.” — Lily Tomlin, 27 March 2022.
  • “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.” — Charles M Schulz, 3 April 2022.

The Schulz quote, by the way, D D Degg at The Daily Cartoonist correctly spotted as reflecting the 1980 storyline where the gang was sent to an evangelical Apocalypse-prep cult. The exact phrasing in the comic is different from what Mary Worth quotes, though. Snopes notes the quote’s adaptation from the strip, and says this precise phrasing comes from a faxlore-type piece circulating on the Internet from no later than 2000. The faxlore is apparently a quiz “to demonstrate the importance of having people who care about you”. Snopes cites the Charles Schulz Museum as saying the precise line never appeared in his work. I told you these quotes were dubiously sourced.

Next Week!

While the Ghost Who Walks hears out the story of how everything he and twenty generations of ancestors strove for fails, in the daily strips, Tony DePaul and Jeff Weigel’s The Phantom, Sunday continuity, has more lighthearted fare. We’ll catch up with that in a week, if things go to plan.

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