Dump her, Popeye

October 14, 2022   ·   0 Comments

A year or so into my new job in the cityI came home from work one Saturday morning off the Friday night shift and wanted to unwind a little bit before I went to bed. I threw together a sandwich and poured a glass of juice and decided to watch a little TV before I hit the hay.

As I was surfing through the channels lo and behold I saw an old black-and-white Popeye cartoon on one of the retro TV stations. I stopped for a moment and thought, “Wow, that takes me back! I used to watch these when I was a kid! Let’s check it out!” And in a moment of happy nostalgia I sat back to re-enjoy one of the old Popeye cartoons that were already old back when I was a kid. 

Watching something from when you were little and then watching that same thing again after you grew up can change your attitude and perspective on that thing completely. And that morning, looking at that cartoon from my childhood with adult eyes changed my perspective on the whole thing dramatically.

In a plot typical of the time, Popeye invites Olive Oyl to go for a walk in the park. She happily accepts and they walk through the park as a happy couple.

When suddenly, along comes Bluto and, taking a fancy to the arm candy that Popeye is escorting, decides he is going to steal Olive Oyl away from Popeye.   

Bluto flexes his muscles and performs various feats of strength to impress Olive Oyl and humiliate Popeye. Popeye tries to fight for what is his but Bluto just shoves him aside and makes his move on Popeye’s girl. Olive Oyl ‘Ooos and Ahhs’ over that big hunk o’ man making a play for her and throws scrawny little Popeye over in a heartbeat. Olive Oyl ditches Popeye and walks off on Bluto’s arm to continue her pleasant walk in the park with her new beau. To the victor belongs the spoils, I guess. Poor Popeye is left alone and heartbroken.

But suddenly, things take a turn for the worse. Finally showing his true colours, Bluto turns out to be a masher and starts to make a pass at Olive Oyl. He tries to grab her and starts making kissy faces at her. And as she frantically tries to push Bluto away, what does Olive Oyl do?


“HELP, POPEYE, HELP!” And Popeye, ever the gallant gentleman and Olive Oyl’s eternal doormat, chivalrously rushes back to save the woman who threw him over for somebody else just a few minutes ago.  

As this is happening I’m yelling into the TV, “POPEYE, LET HER GO! SHE’S FICKLE! YOU CAN DO BETTER!”

As we all know, actions have consequences. Olive Oyl has to realise you don’t change horses in midstream (Or in this case, mid-park)! Even if it’s only for a few times, you have to be classy and ‘dance with who brung ya’, whether you like it or not, if you know what I mean.

Popeye heroically challenges Bluto to a fight for the love of Olive Oyl but is grossly overmatched physically and Bluto begins to pound him into the ground.  

Popeye is losing the fight badly until he opens a can of his secret weapon: His Spinach! (Cue the music.) He opens the can and eats the Spinach.

Properly energised by his ingestion of the wonder vegetable known as Spinach, Popeye goes after Bluto, thrashes him soundly, and takes back what is rightfully his. Popeye and Olive Oyl then continue their walk in the park and everyone is happy again at the end of the cartoon.

Watching it as a kid, I was happy that Popeye got Olive Oyl back. But watching it as an adult that morning, I was annoyed that Olive Oyl would dump poor Popeye at the drop of a hat the moment something she thought was better came along.

Perhaps I am reading too much into what is just a simple children’s cartoon. We all tend to overthink things sometimes and I am no different. Like Sigmund Freud once said: “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”.   

 I discussed this cartoon with a work friend on a coffee break the next night and asked him, “Olive Oyl keeps dumping Popeye at the drop of a hat when something better comes along. Popeye just can’t take the hint. Why the heck does he keep taking Olive Oyl back?”

And in a clarifying moment of truth and with a chuckle my friend replied, “Because Olive Oyl is the only woman in the whole cartoon. If Popeye wants a kiss and a cuddle at the end of the day, he HAS to get her back!”

Hmm. He had a point there. I never thought of it like that. Any old port in a storm I guess, especially if there’s only one port available.

As you can see by this story, our coffee break discussions at work ranged at times from the profound to the nonsensical, depending on the mood we were in on that particular shift. Discussions on our graveyard shifts got a bit more nonsensical because of the mass sleep deprivation experienced by the entire shift. All of our discussions were usually interesting and some were actually quite enlightening.

I just hope that Popeye and Olive Oyl can eventually find a way to work out their differences and together live happily ever after!

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