dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
It's not just keeping themselves safe from having to realize that April isn't a spoiled little child who doesn't know about the real world that keeps John and Elly at pains to keep her in the dark. They also have to keep themselves from having to realize that Mira Sobinski isn't some horrible monster who wants to enslave them with her family politics. What Mira is is someone a lot like Annie or Connie who simply doesn't feel the need to panic about the possibility that Elly Patterson doesn't like her.

This, I should think, is why her ambitions are bad while Gordon's ambitions are good; Mira's ambitions don't have as their basis a healthy respect for the opinions of others....or, as we say in English, the possibility that what she's doing might make a paunchy pea-brain with anger issues screech doesn't alarm her much. This is also why Ted, Becky and Thérèse are pure evil: they don't care if a screaming lunatic might be angered by what they do.
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Remember how Lynn thought that we all knew that Liz spent most of her time up North filled with a longing for home that we quite frankly never saw until she yelled WAIT at a computer monitor? The reason that she thought that we knew this was that she'd thought that she'd made it quite clear why Liz should feel this way. The reason why Liz was homesick is quite simple when you think about it: she was expected to blend into the community on their terms, not her own. If Liz was going to stay in Mtigwaki, what was supposed to have happened is that the grateful locals would fall all over themselves to alter who they were and how they lived and saw the world so that Liz would not be forced to do something evil and change who she was.

As we know, though, things didn't work out that way. The locals insisted on remaining what they were. As a for instance, they didn't see why Paul should have had to jump through hoops to please some shallow idiot from the big city who clearly thought of him not as a man but as a prop to show off how enlightened she wasn't. Since they wouldn't let her play her mighty whitey head games, she joined Connie in muttering about fantasy men that she made up instead of admitting that they'd witlessly destroyed something that could have worked because they have what I like to call Lucy Ricardo Syndrome. I name their refusal to entertain the possibility that they should adapt to a 'lesser' cultural norm the way I do because I remember that Lucy Ricardo never learned a single word of Spanish and would have been outraged by the suggestion that she should.

Liz's hatred of a community for daring to insist that she become a part of it on its terms clearly has its origins in Lynn's blind hostility to the demands that she become a part of Lynn Lake on its terms. The idea of taking a distant second place in their affections to their beloved Flying Dentist not only inspired her need to want to force Rod to give up the dentistry that makes people like him better than her, it is why Liz rages about how terrible it was that people from a community that she didn't want to become a part of felt no obligation to warn her that her delusions had no basis in reality.

That being said, it seems quite possible that Beth Cruikshank has the same sort of disdain for locals who refuse to bow down and worship her as Lynn does for the evil people of evil Lynn Lake. As [livejournal.com profile] howtheduck suggested, most of why Aberdeen, Manitoba is stocked with evil mutants who treat women poorly is that Miami, Manitoba was loaded with people who didn't quite see why the veterinarian was so bloody condescending or why they should indulge her ego-tripping. This shared disdain for hayseeds who get all snippy and defensive when someone 'smarter' shows up is most likely why Beth is captaining Team Lynn. I should think that Rod didn't see the point of alienating people any more than anyone else did. 
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I think that we can all safely agree that the standard of female beauty on tap these days has something in common with other standards of beauty from previous eras: it's irrational, silly and seems designed to make most women feel bad about themselves. The reason that there are fad diets and fad exercise plans is that the interest in maintaining a healthy lifestyle that most people have marches hand in hand with a feeling of personal inadequacy that one is not the freakish icon of whatever perfection is any given year.

That being said, most people are aware enough of the problem and themselves to realize that they're being hosed by cretins with something to sell sick with the notion of induced impermanence. While they do feel sort of out of sorts because of their appearance, they know enough to realize that they do so because they've been bombarded by unsolicited solicitations to feel inadequate so that a mercenary asshole can move product. This is why the annual swimsuit arc in the comic strip Cathy rang true. That's because Guisewite has a figure in her strip that Lynn does not: the Universal Saleswoman. Her presence allows us to see why Cathy really hollers AAAAAAAACK!!!! in changing rooms. Always and ever, a woman who seems friendly but isn't a friend sweet-talks a messed-up person with body image issues into thinking that this time, she isn't going to sell her something that makes her feel like shit and every year, Cathy screams in anguish because she let herself get fooled again.

Lynn and Elly have no such enemy because they aren't aware of what forces lead Elly to feel self-conscious and inadequate. Instead of admitting "I don't like what I see in the mirror because I've been told not to", they spout conspiracy theories and hide themselves away from indifferent eyes.
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Now, I think it's safe to say that most of the problem that Elly has with exercise is that her body simply isn't used to the sort of punishment she puts it through when she wants to slim down. After all, you can't immediately transition from the sedentary existence she leads to a more vigorous one without dealing with the one thing all Pattersons seek to avoid at all costs: pain. The warped moral that most arcs that show Elly trying to jog or do anything other than sit on her ass whining about a non-existent ten pounds she has to lose is that exercise is essentially futile because said bulk never vanishes. (Any smart remarks from Martian princesses that connect said failure to Elly's habit of rewarding herself for enduring the grueling torment of walking for fifteen minutes by gorging herself on donuts are, of course, not germane to the discussion and are evil anyway.)

That being said, there's another thing that gets in the way of Elly doing anything about her alleged obesity aside from whining about it and throwing things at John: exercise clothes. Her hatred of her not-as-solid-as-she-thinks flesh and discomfort with the idea of displaying same make it difficult to get her to wear the appropriate clothing. It would probably be easier to convince her that she should and could take skating lessons now that she can afford them than it would to get her to not be revolted by what she sees in the mirror.
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The interesting thing about Annie's aside about Tupperware parties was what inspired it: Elly's wistful comments about how great a time John must be having attending boring meetings, eating hotel food and wishing he were home. The reason it's interesting is that it's an example of something that used to happen before the Declining Years. What would happen followed the following set pattern:

  1. Elly is angered or upset by some event in her day to day life. The irritant could be menopause, the unwelcome presence of a third child, her inability to cope with any scary technology she doesn't have the patience to understand or that girl with the body and the language who remind her so much of the girls in her past who bewitched anyone she liked with their evil habit of smiling and not taking every last God-damned little thing as a personal affront.
  2. Elly shares her concern with an ear she assumes will be sympathetic. Normally, this ear belongs to Connie Poirier but has been attached to Anne Nichols, Moira Kinney or Carol Enjo.
  3. The figure Elly assumes will be sympathetic counters Elly's self-serving maunderings with something that makes sense. This astonishes and saddens her because she'd hoped for a shoulder to cry on, not a slap to the back of the head.
  4. Elly ignores the advice and goes right on squealing about Martians.

That last is the key thing that separates her from all the other people being lectured to. Unlike the picky-faced Martian princess, Elly has the luxury of being able to ignore things she doesn't want to hear.
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The really annoying thing about one of the more recent strips is that while Elly mused out loud that she should change her hairdo from the low-hanging ponytail we associate with the her of the Early Years, she never did so. Not only did Lynn need her to have a consistently outdated and unflattering do that aged her as a means of identifying her, she also depicted her as someone who was more than capable of converting what, to be fair, is a fairly important thing into a world-shattering crisis. It took Elly about ten to fifteen years to finally make the change to a new outdated, unflattering hair style that aged her: the fabled Elly-bun which she still wears to this day.

The interesting thing about it is that it is the perfect hairstyle for Elly because, as [livejournal.com profile] forworse said, it's a product of her personality. This is because the whole thing was touched off not by her deciding things for herself despite blathering about wanting to do so for years but by reacting to Liz's off the cuff remark about her looking the same way she did thirty years ago. She then dragged her feet, chickened out half-way through because the change was too damned scary, got the ugliest compromise hairdo possible and never did anything with it again.
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I'd like to get back to the here and now to explain what bothers me most about the arc. You might think that Elly's making a big deal over something that only matters to her and forcing everyone to endure her bad mood is what bothers me but, as Ford Prefect said about the Vogon ship, that's not it. Elly's not telling anyone what's bothering her and thus trying to control the situation by not being talked to isn't it either. Another thing that's not it is her inability to see that what she's doing is terrifying Michael by making him think that she and John will inevitably split up. The it that bothers me isn't even that she only relents because she actually confronts a consequence to her actions. What bothers me is that she's learned exactly nothing from this mess because she doesn't understand what happened in the first place. What she seems to have seen happen is that John did something to embarrass her only to compound his folly by refusing to acknowledge her right to storm around acting like a spoiled eight year old who got the wrong flavor of ice creamfreedom of expression. As for the reconciliation, my guess is that the real reason that she apologized was probably not due to her realization that she was acting like an immature imbecile but more to the fact that she wants very much to not have her parents tell her that they were right to say that she married too young.

Since she doesn't know what really happened and doesn't understand that her smug insistence on not letting go of a mild inconvenience made her look like an ass and didn't apologize for the right reasons, she hasn't learned a damned thing and is thus primed to go forth and start pissing and moaning about another crisis that only exists inside her one half of an empty brain.
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Let's return to the annoying subject of why it is that Elly feels compelled to force Mike to 'play fair' (lose on purpose) to Elizabeth while expecting him to play by the rules. It seems to me that her need to make sure that a boy loses on purpose comes from her need to avenge herself on her parents for "letting" Phil win when she was older and should have gotten her own way about everything.

Now as you know, I love to draw certain parallels between the way Liz behaved as a schoolgirl and the way I'm certain Elly must have behaved when she was young. The example I love to use is that when Liz tells her that is convinced that nobody could ever possibly like her because of her stoopid nose and how it made her look stoopid and ugly and unlikable, Elly's response is a bromide about how the only ugly thing on Liz's face is a scowl born of irrational, invincible self-loathing. Since we're not dealing with a very bright person, it's sort of clear that Liz never seems to have ever made the connection between her inability to see the obvious when it's staring her in the face and the fact that she never had a very wide circle of friends growing up.

As you will recall, I love to state that Elly's social life back in the sixties must have run along the same lines; we already know that she made a ridiculous nuisance of herself throwing herself at a crush who regarded her as, at best, a joke. We can also therefore assume that Marian had to spend a lot of awkward nights listening to Elly cry that she'd be an old maid because she was ugly and nobody liked her and all the other teenaged crap Liz spouted. Given that no plotline ever revolved around old friends from Vancouver ever visiting and that none of her trips back to the coast ever had her look forward to getting in touch with school chums, we can also safely assume that she wandered the hallways thinking that the people she never made the effort to talk to were all stuck-up haters and, dare I say it, that she couldn't be convinced that there was one boy who everyone was sure had a thing for her.

Let's combine this basic inability to understand how people around her think with Jim and Marian's aggressive need to impose a strict double standard on her in the name of respectability; what she sees is not two dim, well-meaning people doing what's expected of them to the best of their own lights but instead two big meanies letting a younger sibling who should take a back seat to her because she was there first just because he was a boy. No matter what she did or how sincere she was, Phil always won everything without even trying and that wasn't one bit fair; therefore, she has to shackle Mike to get back at Phil for always, always making her life miserable by winning when he should be a good boy and not only let her completely dominate his ass but also to apologize for existing. Odd how that's what Mike wants Liz to do, isn't it? Guess self-absorbed, vengefulness isn't just for Elly, ain't it?
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Now it seems to me that the simple little column that Elly the intern has been assigned won't give her much of a chance to stretch her vocabulary; as we saw from the encrustations of ill-understood polysyllabic words in the stomach-wrenching excerpts from Stone Season, the only real difference between it and "Sum kids were lost an'then were found!" is that the latter example of Mike's having all the insight of a baked potato was his love of padding his blank-witted verse with big, big words. That being said, Elly was forced to have to stick to dull grey facts and use small words because the big meanie editor wanted to have room for the adventures of the local Bantam A hockey team.

She did better when submitting her awful poems about how small, frightened children who want their mother to comfort them should be pounded into silence so Mommy could sleep and how doing laundry because she's too stupid to teach her children to put their clothes away properly is an existential horror; that's because the editors thought that she was parodying the whole martyr mom meme instead of giving them a look at the greasy interior of the mind of a narcissistic jerkass.

The person who spent the most time cursing the evils of the blue-pencil tyrants is, of course, Mike; from bitching about how unfair it was that he didn't get most of his story about his vulture-like hanging about and getting in the EMTs' way when Deanna drove off the road published to snarling at his boss when he couldn't get his petty revenge against a busy woman who treated him like the nonentity he is printed, Mike bellows and screams at the cruelty of having to have his tosh, bad grammar, ludicrously inept punctuation, baffling misuse of words and misspellings turned into legible English.

In this, he is much like his creator. As we all know, the one thing that is guaranteed to turn the terrifyingly perky Lynn into a belligerent jerk is when someone corrects her piss-poor writing style. She insists that her glaring errors must stand because she knows what she's doing, little realizing that she's revealing herself to be a petulant child who won't follow the rules because it just isn't in her to do so.
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One thing you cannot help but notice about John Patterson is his belief that as the man of the house, he has the right to verbally abuse the womenfolk to keep them in line. It never seems to occur to him (mainly because he doesn't want it to occur to him) that the feelings of the people he insults matter despite their absence of testes. This insouciant disregard for the feelings of his family not only enables him to make self-serving comments about princesses that shield him from the dangerous belief that he's a nasty piece of shit who wants to throw his family under the bus so he can play with toys, it allows him to jam a piece of metal into Lizzie's mouth to make the emotional issues that caused her to suck her thumbs worse because squishy emotions are none of his concern. The worst of it, of course, is that he thinks that it's his duty as a husband to keep Elly off-balance mentally so as to remind her that he's the boss of her.

Good thing for him that he married a narcissistic weirdo; as [livejournal.com profile] josephusrex reminds us, the need to be demeaned because the pain is delicious is yet another self-limiting symptom of the repulsive vanity that holds Elly back. We've all met someone in our lives who alternates between thinking that he or she's hot shit in a champagne glass and lukewarm diarrhea in a styrofoam cup who cannot and will not extricate him or herself from a toxic relationship with someone who feeds her addiction to the self-abasement he or she sees as proof that if he or she cannot be the greatest, he and she can at least console him or herself by being extremely bad.

This, of course, means that someone with a healthy, balanced self-image would never give the dick the time of day; she'd rather be thought of as uptight, too good for a Nice Guy like John and a whole host of other derogatory things than waste her life dealing with a greasy little non-entity like Train Man.
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To continue on with Elly's screwball fantasy that she's about to be tossed on the curb with all of the other household waste that the Pattersons don't need any longer, I'd like to go back to describing how the people around her perceive her. It's my guess that aside from John who never met verbal and emotional abuse he didn't like, nobody else seems to realize that she's serious when she says things like this.

What usually happens probably goes something like this:

  • Stage 1: Elly leaves for vacation and places her children in the care of a relative.
  • Stage 2: Said relative not only imposes her version of order on the children, she bonds with them.
  • Stage 3: Elly returns to find the house run in a more efficient manner than she left it.
  • Stage 4: Elly whines that she's been replaced by a new figure.
  • Stage 5: The putative replacement rolls her eyes in irritation because the adult child she's sitting for is engaging in cheap theatrics.
  • Stage 6: The sitter leaves and Elly deprograms her children so that she can feel needed.

This last is important because it explains a lot about Elly; we have to remember that she needs to feel as if she's making a difference because she doesn't realize that she is fairly important despite not having a visible impact. If her suffering is epic, she can at least console herself that she somehow matters. What she never does realize is that her need to take John's mean-spirited japes about how little effect she has to heart is what's really the problem. Why it is that she needs to be belittled is sort of interesting and will be the subject of my next entry.
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Something you can't help but notice when you look at how Elly reacts when the children go back to school in the autumn is that her emotions are mixed. Her elation at having time to herself after a summer of children being underfoot is mixed with guilt about said relief. This looks like the sort of emotional conflict pretty much all mothers undergo when their children take their first few steps towards independence but, as we all know, it's a lot more complicated than that.

That's because we have to remember one thing about Elly: her fear that she doesn't really have an identity of her own. As we've seen, most of what ails her is the fact that she perceives herself as being an appendage of a male relative instead of a person in her own right. When the children leave her for the day, the extra time is not filled with thoughts of getting to know and like the person in the mirror; the time is spent worrying that she's no longer necessary to anyone.

This fear of being obsolete is, as we've seen, coupled with the inability to do anything constructive to combat it. It's better for Elly to feel bad about being on her own than to do something scary like really think for herself instead of defining herself by what she isn't.
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Here's a question for you; say that someone tells you that her dog is rooting around in the garbage and making a mess for her to clean up. Odds are that you'd probably tell her to put the garbage cans in some sort of bin that the pooch couldn't get to instead of, say, yelling at the animal in the hope that if she were to make her point clear enough, the dog would be sufficiently impressed with her sincerity that it would no longer do what's bothering her. If so, you'd be light-years ahead of Elly; no matter how often she's reminded that her theory that the dog understands her perfectly well is bogus, she insists on acting as if the poor, uncomprehending animal is a canny manipulator trying to test her limits. This is because she sees behavior that signifies a certain thing when human beings do it and assumes that since the dog shrinks back in blank-minded fear when she yells at it that he knows what he did wrong. After all, when she does that, she's trying to avoid being blamed for her own incompetence so her dog's gotta be feeling the heat.

That being said, it's sort of heart-breaking to have to reiterate the point I alluded to on Coffee Talk a while ago; it's just not fair that the woman who understands Farley the least, the one who goes out her way to not do so lest she be thought of as being defeated by a mongrel is the person who spends to most time with him. Her sullen refusal to take advice and her need to resent any sort of inconvenience more or less ruined a potentially great pet; what's worse, her need to not listen to warnings about flooding rivers and how they mandate that she do another thing she hates which we call 'keeping track of her children like she's supposed to' ended up killing him.
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I'd like to get back to the collision of reality with the image the Pattersons have of themselves; what generally happens when a Foob is shown that other people see him or her the way he or she is instead of what he or she believes he or she is, the reaction is never good. As an example, let's remember that Elly considers herself to be a loving, understanding, attentive, firm, even-tempered, fair and patient parent. The reality that we and her children see is a fractious, vindictive, negligent, short-tempered, belligerent, shouting mess who twists everything her children say or do into not only something bad but as a lead-in to an angry tirade about how ill-used she is and how selfish they are. The one thing that can be counted on to provoke this reaction is when a child asks when the boring lecture that has nothing to do with what's really going on will get over with.

Where this failure to formulate an accurate self-concept fails her the most, of course, is that she genuinely does want to be a responsible parent; we do know that she wants so very badly for her children to trust her and be able to come to her with their concerns and it mystifies her that her children do not think of her as being a potential confidant but as someone who can't wait to misinterpret things in the worst possible light so she can start an argument and get her idiot husband to bully the child into apologizing for an offense that only exists in her victimism-filled brain.

Another thing that escapes her is that the end result of years of being subjected to her whining about how selfish they are and how badly off she is and similar nonsense is that it doesn't do wonders for their self-esteem; the defiance, the anxiety, the claims that her default attitude is a hostile disinterest in her children's needs seem to come from nowhere because she can't see what she does or who she is.

Her dubious parenting, of course, is a subset of a wider problem that she has; every so often, she'll hear someone describe her as being a thin-skinned blowhard who'd rather blow up and scream in blind rage than listen; since she doesn't want to admit that she's filled with misdirected anger, she's baffled by this.
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Let it not be said that Elly's inability to quite realize that Mrs Walsh's windy pronouncements about how seeing her name in print are reward enough actually mean "I'd like to pay you but I can't afford to" are her first encounter with authority figures that leave her credibility in tatters. Whenever Elly interacts with people in authority, her simplistic view of the world and unswerving belief that what she wants should take precendence over what is possible makes her life a mess. Take, for instance, her doomed attempt to apply for work at Philpott's department store; what happened was she tried to blow off the HR guy's reminder that she hasn't worked in a store in decades and hasn't kept up with the new technology by talking about how being a consumer gives her the right to do what she's not qualified to do; given that she really doesn't know how the world works, it's the fault of the evil, unfair old MAN that she didn't get a job she can't do. Good thing for her that a lot of the women in Milborough like to employ people who might as well be robots; were it not for the library's need for a drudge who can shelve books or Lily Petrucci's need for a clerk who can do slave labor without question, she'd have never gotten a paying job. As for her campaign to save the old Town Hall, it, while marginally useful, would have been easier to take were it not for her going in assuming that the jocks wanted to kill people like her. The only saving grace of all that paranoid energy was its being co-opted by a ward heeler with an ax to grind. Once Radcliffe declared that Elly's campaign was a great idea that he was glad was his idea and his alone, it ceased to be about Elly's fear that athletes would visit the annihilation upon the arts community she'd wish on them were people insane enough to allow her power and influence and became about some hack marking territory. It might seem odd that sanity and decency were restored to the proceedings when some jerk politician took over but that's life; slithering filth are better for the community that idiot idealists like Elly.
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Elly's baffled and unacknowledged desire to somehow couple with Phil isn't the only factor that must be considered when we look back at her life; we also have to remember that she's transfixed by the following vision:

Place: Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens, Milborough, Ontario, Canada. Date: 28 August 2021.
[We find John, Michael, Liz and April putting flowers on a grave marker.]

Michael: It's hard to believe it's been five years since Mom passed on. I thought she'd be here for years and years...

John: It was simply her time.

Michael: Was it, Dad? I look back at the past and I can't but remember that she did a lot more than we ever gave her credit for; I feel kinda bad that we didn't do more for her when she was alive.

This vision, this nightmare fantasy in which she will only praised for her years of hard work long after she's died leads her on like a pillar of smoke during the day and a pillar of fire during the night. We all know the causes and they're all in Elly's head. The first, of course, is that she is sick with the fear that she doesn't really matter, that her life has no impact and that all she does is play a minor supporting role in the lives of people who have an important part to play in the human drama. As she sees it, she has no identity of her own as it seems to her that she's not so much an individual as she is a female adjunct of a male of some sort. This not-really-hidden self-loathing has a sidekick: her preference of The-world-that-might-have-been to the World-that-is; she's never really happy with all the desirable things in her life because that which she thinks should be hers means more. A third concern is that she can't rest or take time off lest chaos befall the world due to her laziness; this means that enforced idleness is the sheerest cruelty possible to inflict on her. Since she doesn't want to admit that she has to do endless hours of futile busywork just to feel minimally useful, John doesn't know what Elly does all day. As I've said before, what she thought was a slam at her for being lazy was his comparing how long it would take his mother to clean a house their size and figuring out that she could have tidied up at least three of them per diem; her claims of overwork don't thus make sense unless the tired joke he makes of dusting the attic every day is more than hyperbole. We also need to contend with her very real need to not look weak by telling people what's really bothering her and its twin, the belief that they already know. Finally, there's her warped perception of risk. My guess as to why she never considered getting a lock to the gate is that it was better that April be exposed to harm than to have random strangers think that she was some loon hunkered down in her bunker. This constellation of hang-ups seem to have the revenge effect of making what seems like a unrealistic fantasy of martyrdom at the hands of the clueless a near certainty. In the real world, Mike would have stated that if she was upset with her lot in life, he would have known.
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Looking at the Easter-themed strips and reminding myself of sad miracles reminds me of another reason why the Patterson children don't seek Elly out as a source of advice. To put it in the most generous terms possible, Elly is something of an ignoramus and it shows; as an example, part of why April knew that she wouldn't believe that Kortney was stealing from them was that her mother was so out of it, she didn't know what planet she was on half the time. Her annoying habit of trying to conceal her profound ignorance by babbling non-stop about things she clearly knows little about joins like her belief in insane nightmare scenarios, victimism and hair trigger temper in producing the interesting revenge efffect of making sure that when she does have something worth saying, no one wants to hear it. We also find that John is slightly more help with homework; granted, he's an insensitive creepola who doesn't get that Liz sucks her thumb because she's feeling lost because that would take understanding the emotions that scare him but he does seem to know more about math and science than his dizzy nitwit of a wife; you wouldn't catch him spinning off absurd explanations that reveal his ignorance unless he could get a laugh out of it. When she says crazy bullshit, she means it.
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As I've said before, what really bothers me about the cavalier, self-satisfied, self-justifying manner in which John dismissed April's concerns about the Housening as the rantings of a stuck-up princess was his gutless refusal to ask her what's going on. It seems to me that he was afraid that April would do something or say something that would somehow disrupt his loathesome, screwball utopia of trains, trains, trains when we know that all she wanted to hear was something mildly encouraging about how she wasn't going to be shafted forever just because it made life easier for the Delicate Genius. John's belief in screwball ragnaroks would be bad enough if he hadn't married a woman who misspent her life convinced that the mildest deviation from her idea of the true, good and beautiful would have universe-ending consequences. You don't find many adults in their right mind who rant about how not marrying a nerdy, morose, self-absorbed, humorless prick of an accountant will inevitably lead to anarchy, chaos and cannibalism; what you do, however, find is that otherwise perfectly sane children believe any damned crazy thing. Simply put, John and Elly are growing old, not up.
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Elly's tendency to chicken out when firmness is required is, of course, symptomatic of a deeper problem: the need to not admit to herself that she's responsible for most of what's wrong in her life. One of the examples of this that comes most readily to mind is her refusal to admit that she's a bland, mousy, timid stick-in-the-mud who not only just plain doesn't like enjoying things out of a need for sympathy and special treatment but also hates to learn things because of the childish delusion that admitting ignorance is an open invitation to having the quality people deride and blacklist her. Rather than admit to the humiliation of being in the wrong, she does one of two things; she either denies that values have changed or ascribes altered social norms to an attempt to play a mean-spirited trick on her. The most destructive example of this tendency has to be her very strong need to not admit to having sexual impulses; she either bleats about how dangerous information used to be censored (which, of course, means that she resents the fact that it isn't) or tries her damnedest to duck the issue. Given that she's also a particularly noxious hypocrite who had perverted fantasies about the non-stop orgy Connie's life had to have been, her need to protect her children from smut is particularly revolting.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
I think it's fairly obvious that Elly does somehow equate the equipment John needs to make a living with the appliances she needs to make her unpalatable sludge; in her mind, if he can buy a new X-ray machine, he can also buy a new stove to replace the one that would take maybe twenty or thirty 1982 Canadian dollars to repair and be as good as factory-new. This is because, as I've said, she has a child's idea of finances to go along with her unfailing tendency to do the wrong thing at the worst time. Since John's attempt to introduce sense into the conversation lead her to make the stupid conclusion that he's an ogre who wants to keep all his money for himself while stinting her, she won't speak up for herself until it's too late. This is why John is due to get blindsided five or so years from now when the appliances and counters he thought only needed a little preventative maintenance were in complete disrepair; Elly might still have convinced herself that he just wanted to spend their money on toys but it looks to me as if he was overwhelmed by the results of her failure to keep on top of a problem until it became too late to do anything about it. It's also why he wound up shelling out thousands to fix a drainage problem that became catastrophic owing to Elly's dithering idiocy. In both instances, her need to be the submissive little wifey who lets hubby make the big decisions when it would her serve interests (and be what John expects of her) to stand up for herself and get things done makes her life far worse than it needs to be.


dreadedcandiru2: (Default)

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