35 Comments

  1. I never heard of this [really WEIRD] game, hence the comic was a CIDU for me . . . thanks for the ‘splanation. Did people really buy this game? It’s an EW! for me.

  2. Well, shouldn’t the dad be happy that he’s trying to take something out of her, rather than trying to put something in her?

  3. I don’t think we have to assume that it’s a particular thing he’s touching. It could be almost anything. But it’s probably something under her clothes.

    Note that this implies that boyfriend is clumsy and inexperienced, which doesn’t seem too surprising. A more skilled paramour would avoid setting off any buzzing.

  4. Unusual John, I assure you that my goal, when under the clothing, was to get something buzzing.

  5. SingaporeBill, maybe that’s where I went wrong.

    For those of you who are not familiar with the game Operation: The goal is to perform various operations (remove butterflies from the stomach, connect the A bone to the B bone, etc.) without touching anything that would cause the game to buzz. If it does buzz, that ends your turn.

    But SingaporeBill may have been playing a different game.

  6. Andrea, It was a *very* popular game. However that video seems to not be the original but a specifically gross version.

    The things to remove were things such as “funny bone” or “butterfiles in the stomach” or my favorite “wrenched ankle” (an little wrench). The ones in this game seem unrecognizable. A toilet would have been considered too crude for children in my day but is of course standard childs fair for the last 35 years.

  7. Basically, the guy being operated on had various holes in his body, in which were objects of the same shape as the hole but slightly smaller. You had a pair of tweezers that you had to put in the hole to remove the object; if the tweezers touched the edge at any point, a buzzer would sound and you lost that turn.

  8. THis ad is closer to the version I remember. The say the ad is from 1981 but it sure looks mid 70s to me:

  9. Somewhere on Youtube is a video of doctors playing Operation using surgical waldoes (or whatever they’re properly called).

  10. This comic probably wasn’t intended to be quite as “Arlo” as it appears. The problem is the indeterminate preposition “inside”. I think the father meant “…hear… from inside the house”, rather than “hear…inside you”. The “buzzing” would then be understood as her general condition, rather than the vibration of a specific body part.

  11. I laughed, anyway. We don’t even have to know any details. It’s just a funny setup. I remember the game in my ’80s childhood.

  12. I’d say I didn’t think Cavity Sam was all that iconic to be recognizable that I think it was odd that it didn’t have caption such as “The guy from Operation becomes a parent”. But I did recognize him so maybe it is that iconic.

    I would say it PG-13 dirty. The guy is trying to touch her and setting her nose off. But it’s just a general hands on her body non-specific way.

  13. I always found it amusing that they would re-shoot the Operation commercial every few years without changing one word of the script. The whole thing’s stuck in my memory: “Take out his spare ribs for one hundred dollars.” “Oh, you’ll never do that.” “Don’t touch the sides.” “Here goes his funny bone.”

  14. Andréa, just curious: did you grow up after 1980? Or not in the U.S.? Because Operation has been a meme since before memes.

    Jeez, that sounds like I’m criticizing you; I’m not, honest. Just wondering.

  15. I was born in Amsterdam in 1948; emigrated to US in 1954. We didn’t have TV ’til I was 17 and we could only watch – at night – the programs my dad wanted to see, so I never saw any toy commercials. As far as games went, we had Monopoly, Mr PotatoHead and something similar to Mr. PotatoHead but with a bug. Even card games weren’t allowed for many years. OTOH, I could read anything in the house I wanted to, whether it was ‘appropriate’ for my age level or not, including Playboy (and yes, I read the articles).

  16. I just got this game for my five-year old daughter. It’s still around, they occasionally have licensed characters such as Shrek instead of Cavity Sam

  17. Andréa: Interesting. I also grew up mostly without TV, from 1967-1975 (age 6 to 14), in New York and Ontario, Canada. I don’t think I ever owned Operation, but friends did. (TV died during episode of Speed Racer; academic father said “We don’t need a TV”, so we didn’t have one. In 1975 my mother said “Enough” and rented one. It arrived at 5PM and at 7PM Nixon resigned; my dad decided TV was OK after all.) (Actually that last part isn’t entirely true: my dad was out of town that day, so that wasn’t what sold him on TV. But later, after we kids had moved out, my parents had a big TV with full cable package, etc. — a big reversal!)

    Thanks for taking the question as it was intended!

  18. ” As far as games went, we had Monopoly, Mr PotatoHead and something similar to Mr. PotatoHead but with a bug. ”

    Cooties, I think that was. Oddly enough that never was “meme-worthy”. I haven’t thought of that in years.

    I hadn’t realized that Operation was introduced as late as 1964. I assumed it was one of the fifties wave of boomer toys. Then again I was surprised when I learned that G.I. Joe wasn’t around until 1967 or so. I had always assumed it was at least as old as Barbie. (To a kid in the 60s/70s the difference between 1967 and 1959 is as vast as the Ice Age to the Atomic age…. or the difference between Richie Valens and the Rolling Stones…. sheesh!)

  19. My dad, too, became a tv addict, altho only for the shows HE wanted to watch; my Mom never had a choice over what to watch. He also became a catlover, altho he’d been a dog fanatic whilst I was growing up and for many years after that. To paraphrase, ‘Everything bad is good again’. Yes, the man was a control freak ’til the day he died, and even afterward.

    Oh, and I never knew what toys friends had ’cause I wasn’t allowed to have any. Friends, that is.

  20. “I hadn’t realized that Operation was introduced as late as 1964.”

    Well, that would ‘splain why I knew nothing about it – I was in high school by then.

    And yes, COOTIE was the name of that game. To this day, I am not a gameplayer; either I’m not competitive enough (having been an only child), or I find them too boring and would rather be reading.

  21. Andrea, how did you learn to speak English? At school, or did your parents speak it at home? I ask because your English is flawless, which is a real accomplishment if it’s not your native tongue.

  22. I was thrown into school to learn as I went along, in what must’ve been Kindergarten. My first report cards had comments like, ‘She doesn’t sing along’ (well, no, I didn’t know the language) and quite a few ‘U’s (Unsatisfactory). By the second half of the year, I was getting all ‘S’s, so I learned English quickly, methinks.

    Perhaps that is why I am persnickety about English grammar, having learned it as a second language.

    And yes, I do still speak Dutch, altho I no longer have anyone with whom to speak it.

  23. In France, it was introduced as “Docteur Maboul” (=Doctor Crazy) in 1978. I never owned one but played a lot at friends’.

  24. Andrea and Phil Smith III: I also grew up in a home without a television. I did not live in a home with a TV until I was 25. We lived in a rural area with poor TV reception, and my parents considered that it was not worth the expense. They also did not modernize the farm: We used mules rather than a tractor and we milked cows by hand, until my father retired in 1981.

    Maybe the lack of a TV has something to do with my interest in comics. We also played lots of games, although I only played Operation a few times with my friends.

  25. Andréa, You were pretty lucky, learning two languages as a child is supposedly protective of brain matter. Although it probably didn’t feel so lucky in kindergarten.

  26. Didn’t help my Mom avoid dementia, tho; all students learned several languages in Dutch schools. French and German, for sure; English, maybe not at the time my parents were in school.

    I studied French and Italian – does that count, too? ‘-) And I speak Dog pretty fluently.

  27. When I returned to Holland for visits (last time was in 1980), I was glad I spoke Dutch; translations just don’t do justice to nuances of the language. When André Rieu (Dutch violinist famous for promoting Viennese waltzes) speaks before each performance, I can see how the nuances do not come thru via translator; he is actually funnier in Dutch than when translated into English. For certain values of ‘funny’.

  28. I was going to say that it was later in time game than the 1950s as my youngest (younger? never sure which to use – both sisters are younger than me and she is the younger of the two) is 12 years younger than me (middle sister is 5 years younger than me and 7 years older than youngest of us) and the game came out when the youngest of the age for it.
    .
    (Okay the other two of us call her – the youngest – “the baby” and sometimes apparently treat her as one – as in when Robert and I were called at 4 am by the police who mom had called to say that her neighbors were talking about killing her and the police needed someone to come – why us – we live closer and don’t have to get up for work per mom – and as we dressed – having just undressed and gone to bed when the call came – I called middle sister to let her know and we both agreed not to bother “the baby” about this. Later in the day when we finally got home from the hospital that Robert had the police take mom to – husband who ran a mental health center can be good to have for things like this – I called “the baby” to let her know what was going on and suddenly realized that if I am 66, the baby is 54!)

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