1. They hit a bump, he touched her, and she turned to gold. Now he can pay the toll.

  2. Since it’s late and I can’t sleep, I’ll nitpick that Midas wasn’t born with the power, it was given to him by a satyr in return for Midas’ hospitality. (Midas was not known for thinking things through.) In this cartoon, Midas is still a prince and shouldn’t have the golden touch.

    That said, I found it amusing.

  3. Surely the car seat should have turned to gold already. And the door handle.

    The nearest big toll booth to me until recently was on the M4 Severn bridges crossings from England into Wales (but not the other way). You could pay by cash or card to a live person, and also by contactless card or by remote charging. The booths were dismantled last year and it is now free to cross.

    I used a coin at a barrier only yesterday – Bristol Airport pickup zone parking has number plate recognition on entry and exit, and you drop the required coins in the exit barrier bucket on leaving.

    £1 for ten minutes, then £3 and £5 until 40 mins, but after that £20 and then after an hour £50. The Midas Touch in action. (So it’s worth checking flightradar24 or similar in advance in order to time your run, as well as figuring out an average time to get through baggage and immigration. My brother was arriving from Tunisia via Toulouse, scheduled 14:50, flightradar said 14:56 so we got there about ten past one. He took a bit longer than I expected to come through – he, unusually, had a checked bag – but still within the ten minutes grace period so you’ll be glad to hear it cost only £1.)

  4. This is actually a pretty faithful retelling, isn’t it? In at least one version Midas killed his beloved daughter by touching her. It’s just a sort of “What if Gary Larson told the Midas story?” take. Now, if the kid grew donkey ears and there was a very complicated knot hanging from the rear-view mirror, that would be much more interesting.

    That is apparently a Tardis they’re driving. Look how huge the interior is compared to the exterior view in panel 2.

  5. Winter wallaby: actually, they’re driving a chariot in panels one and three. Panel two is a random drawing that was put in when the cartoonist was told he needed three panels.

  6. I think the toll booth is irrelevant.

    Car trips have common occurrences including the kids pestering each other in the back and the parents in the front ignoring them, and the driver irritatingly muttering to himself about the road while ignoring the kids.

  7. CIDU Bill: Here in Houston, Texas, we have toll roads all over town. The toll booths have either a coin drop, a person taking cash, or a scanner which scans a card on the windshield and charges the driver automatically. The state or county won’t build a freeway that’s not tolled anymore.

  8. LF: I think the novelty Bill was referring to was the “requiring coins.” Here in the Seattle area, we have toll areas, but there’s no option for paying with cash – it’s all from automatic scanning.

  9. I think the toll booth reference was merely to the fact that royalty like Midas or our own dear Queen can be as rich as Croesus but traditionally do not carry cash around with them. Maybe it is a brand of humility, as all cash – notes and coins – in the UK has the Queen’s fizzog on it.

  10. @narmitaj – I thought it used to be that the aristocracy in general wouldn’t carry cash. It’s just that the number of them who can get away with that has dwindled.

  11. I thought that the short stop was because the driver realized almost too late that he did not have any coins for the toll. The Midas touch in the back seat was an unintended (but fairly predictable) side effect of stopping short.

  12. But why did the girl turn to gold? Why not just the sweater?

    Yeah, I know, I’m overthinking it. Again.

  13. What Winter said: I can’t remember the last time I saw a tollbooth that didn’t have an EZPass option. Since my brother and sister-in-law have EZPass, my niece has presumably never seen anybody pay a bridge, tunnel or highway toll with cash.

    The new Tappan Zee Bridge (crossing the Hudson River) doesn’t even HAVE a cash option: if you don’t have EZPass, you’re sent a bill

  14. Chak: Or alternatively, why not just the part of the sweater that he touched? Why the whole sweater? Why not the air that he touches? Somehow the transmutation power moves from atom to atom, but stops at boundaries corresponding to “objects that humans would consider distinct.” The physics behind this is unclear.

    Also, surely at some point he’s tripped and touched the Earth. Why isn’t the Earth all gold now? Very confusing!

  15. Why not the clothes he’s wearing, for that matter? Presumably if he touches the ground, he would turn individual sand grains or stones to gold, but not the stones or dirt or whatnot that touch those grains and rocks. The legend (in at least one version) makes it clear that fluids are not transformed, because he was cured of the gold touch by bathing in a particular river, which absorbed the power from him (and transformed some of the pebbles in its own bank thereafter, making it a good place to pan for gold). This is before Midas grew the donkey ears.

  16. When I was a kid I decided that the logical answer was that the power was only in his hands. (Presumably someone else dressed him.)

    I would also point out that he is most likely to have hit his sister’s arm, not her sweater. He would fall down and over, not just shift sideways. Still doesn’t answer why the sweater is gold though.

  17. carlfink: The river was presumably protected from transformation because it was magic. Other fluids were changed, because Midas was unable to drink: “but when he beheld his food grow rigid and his drink harden into golden ice then he understood that this gift was a bane”

  18. Chak: Me neither. I guess Bill just called it that for the title, and we all just went with it.

  19. Magical allegories don’t need to follow logical laws of physics. Christine’s idea of “hands only” comes close, but I think the best explanation would be “intent”: whatever the king wanted to touch, anything he was trying to possess would be transformed, and not just whatever he happened to be incidentally in contact with. Otherwise we would also have to explain why the air molecules all around him were not covering him with perpetual flurries of golden snow, or for that matter, why the boy’s hand in the third panel of this strip has not turned his seat belt into gold.

  20. Those damn air molecules louse up all sorts of “super power” daydreams. There’s a whole bunch of sf/f stories in which something “stops time” for everyone other than the protagonist, who can still move around and wonder/smirk at all of the people caught halfway through falling down, at birds immobile in the sky, etc. (John D. MacDonald’s THE GIRL, THE GOLD WATCH, AND EVERYTHING is perhaps the best-known example). Very few authors of such try to explain how, if ‘everything’ else is frozen, the protagonist can still move hir body (against the immobility of countless immobile air molecules), not to mention breathing. . . .

    (The MacDonald novel might actually get a pass on this, since time there is not stopped absolutely, just slowed down really, reallly, really throughly — at once point a just-fired bullet can be seen moving, though at a snail’s pace.)

  21. We are just finishing to don’t stop we will bill you for tolls if you don’t have an EZpass and then you won’t bother paying the tolls as you are not from this area and will never be here again setup. But even so, the tolls before this were so high that the coins were only part of the toll.

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