When I was in high school, my family hosted a German exchange student. He enjoyed most aspects of his stay, but his two favorite things about the U.S. were the food and the cartoon characters, many of which apparently have a much larger following in Germany. He was also given to catchphrases of a certain sort.
They would sometimes be taken from films, but far more often were adaptations of things we foreigners had said that seemed relatively innocuous to us at the time. He would repeat them over and over, in a comically exaggerated tone, until we began to use them as well.
“Pancakes with Garfield” was one of them.
You see, one day, on our way to school, he spotted a sign that had ostensibly been posted by a local chapter of the Boy Scouts or some similar organization.
It advertised a pancake breakfast, and featured a large picture of Garfield with an improbably smug expression wrapped tightly around the front of his head. The combination must have confused him to some extent, because he brought it to my attention.
“Why does Garfield promote pancakes?” he asked, with a curious look in his eyes.
I made some attempt to put the words together in my head, but was unable to articulate exactly why this mascot had been chosen. It was too early in the morning for a good explanation.
He tried a different approach.
“Will there be pancakes with Garfield?”
“Pancakes? With Garfield?”
The car fell silent for a brief period of time.
It must have been about two seconds.
After that, we both burst out laughing.
I miss that guy.