1. I think he’s just trying to pass off a plausible explanation to his girlfriend. Now, if she accepts that line, then she is truly clueless.

  2. I think it could also be playing on the readers’ expectations. Both Baldo and his girl friend are aware of the standard reason for leaving the door open. In this case, he’s explaining that in his family, there is another reason.

  3. “The joke is that Baldo is really that clueless?”

    No, Tia Carmen is actually that obsessed with food.

  4. Yeah, I get the feeling that when the rule was introduced, Baldo asked why (knowing full well why but trying to act innocent), and Tia Carmen gave the food explanation (either innocently or to save his dad from having to actually talk about the concept of Baldo getting busy). Baldo decided Carmen was being serious, so he’s a little clueless.

  5. I think Phil and Powers have it. It’s a bit clunkily executed but I read it as Tia Carmen is extremely proud and vain of her cooking and want people to know and be aware when dinner is ready by smelling it.

  6. Yeah, I agree it’s just playing with our expectations. Also, almost no chance Baldo would be trying to outsmart Estella. He knows she’s not clueless.

  7. beckoningchasm, I have a feeling she’s based on an actual person.

    Of course, that’s my go-to assumption when a long-running strip suddenly gets a new character drawn in a less-cartoonish style.

  8. In the Spanish version, the term used is “novia”, which I think was accurately rendered as “girlfriend”. I’m suggesting this is a bit of a problem for theories that involve Carmen having actually said something in the past along the lines of smelling dinner — because then why would it not apply to any friend?

  9. Given the fairly blatant reminder that the girlfriend is shown (twice) framed by the headboard and pillow (not to mention that they are both sitting on the foot of the bed), it is clear that the old lady’s rule has nothing to do with cooking, and everything to do with the the obvious “other” reason.
    P.S. In the third panel, you can see that Baldo is obeying the classic censorship edict: he has one foot flat on the floor.

  10. A friend of mine told me that he lost his virginity to his cousin at his parents’ house at Thanksgiving with the door open.

  11. “it is clear that the old lady’s rule has nothing to do with cooking, and everything to do with the the obvious “other” reason.”

    But that’s to set up the readers expectations.

    It wouldn’t be a *joke* if the smelling dinner reason was treated and presented as something normal or to be expected.

  12. I think Baldo’s explanation is the true reason. I think it probably is also true of any friend, but, if there IS a reason that “girlfriend” is specifically prioritized, it would be because you want to make sure that your grandson gets married SOMEDAY, and so you want to make sure sure that the girlfriend is aware right away that “good food” is part of the deal if she joins the family. Might not be relevant until, say, after college, but go ahead and get the information out there early.

  13. So there are three possible explanations: Although it is universally accepted the reason teenagers are required to keep the door open when their girl/boyfriends are visiting is so the parents can be assured no hankypanky is going on, the joke here is 1) Baldo is making up a reason to either keep himself or his girlfriend from being embarrassed 2) Baldo is clueless 3) Tia Carmen is vain about her cooking

    I believe I have listed them in ascending order for plausibility, comprehensibility, and humor. The ranking is the same for any or those criteria.

  14. Unlike Tia Carmen, the first time I had boyfriend to our house (not Robert) was back when I was in high school. Knowing that one should actually properly (I was a major goody two shoes – less of one now) and from watching TV I knew that I should not take my boyfriend to my bedroom, we went downstairs to the den and were watching TV (no, really – later found out he was gay). My mom comes downstairs and says “Wouldn’t you be more comfortable in your room?” (Then again, I did I share my room with baby sister – of about 4 at the time.)

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