It seems to me that both Gavin Caine and Mira Sobinski probably spend a lot of their time wondering why the Hell their children are so attracted to the Patterson family, they’ve more or less become members of a sort of cult. I can’t quite fault them for doing so because it’s almost impossible to conceive of an adult choosing to degrade him- or herself by consorting with the appalling collection of white trash we are asked to venerate. Let’s review some of the more unpleasant traits and see how baffling it is that people like the Foobs are appealing:
- First off, the Pattersons are very poorly educated and proud of it. Not only did Elly abandon her studies because she was overwhelmed by the course load, John is smug about only knowing how to use machinery; any sort of knowledge that might contradict what ‘everyone’ knows (or, to translate that from Train Man to human being, the preconceptions he’s too lazy and gutless to question) is rejected. I dare say that his father is a more learned man despite having only a high-school diploma to his name. Their disdain for learning has been handed down to their idiot children.
- The next factor one must contend with is their repellent vulgarity; not only do they go out of their way to act like yokels, they exult in their abominable loutishness.
- Allied to this is their smirking belief that those who work towards a goal want more out of life than Fate is willing to dispense and are thus doomed to unhappiness.
- We must also contend with their astonishing absence of empathy; this is why Mike or John wail about how it hurts to be mocked only to smugly insist that people who object to their hateful commentary should just get over themselves.
- This leads into their lack of remorse; simply put, anyone who might get in the way of them and a desired goal is not entitled to his or her opinion. This person is to be run over at all costs and be damned for being in their path.
- Finally, they look at the idea that the Pattersons have that they are entitled to mow down the Thereses of the world because they have suffered as have no others and shake their heads in utter confusion. Trying to figure out what sacrifices they’ve had to endure is pretty much beyond their critics because they can’t find things that don’t exist.
The problem, of course, is that the Miras and Gavins of the world look at these people and assume that simply because the Pattersons are over twenty physically, they’re adults. What I see is a collection of spoiled children who appeal to the snot-nosed brat in their worshippers; eventually, of course, Mira will unwittingly come to the truth of the matter when she asks Deanna what she wants to be when she grows up.
- First off, she accuses Mira of wanting to control every little aspect of her life who was not satisfied with her as she was. In short, she's got her shorts in a wad because her mother actually dared to be a parent and get involved with her child's life.
- Second, we have to deal with Mira's honesty about wanting to improve her social standing and willingness to put in the hours to make that happen being thought of as being a bad thing. This is where the Pattersonian dread of having to work towards a goal comes into play.
- We next deal with her main complaint against her mother: Mira's refusal to meekly let Deanna's DADDY!!!!!!!!! set the agenda. The monstrous Electra complex that I've commented on in the past ensures that Deanna cannot and will not see marriage as a partnership of equals who work together; her subconscious desire to kill her mother and be serviced by Wilf mandates that she envy the frothingly frustrated mess that is Elly. It also explains why she makes Mike's knavishness, idiocy and immaturity into a great and glorious thing; she wants to have a dolt husband calling the shots while she runs her sewing school.
- Fourth, she's a materialistic hypocrite. The letter in which she slanders her mother by calling her obsessed with possessions makes it quite clear that she was content to leach off her parents while her need to refuse her mother's generosity in the here-and-now is justified by wanting to inflict scarcity on her children for their own good....just like the financially incompetent Elly.
The reason for the Patterson-worship is that she thinks that Mike had a freer childhood than she did; my guess is that if she were to learn that John and Elly think that their children owe them every cent that was spent on them, she wouldn't be outraged like you or I. She'd congratulate the vermin for being spot on.
- He doesn't seem to love Liz-the-person all that much; what he seems to love is the idea of being in love with her. In that, he is, as Lynn would say, marrying his own kind. Liz seems to be more in love with being in love than she ever was with the people she was dating.
- He's too stupid to do the honorable thing; a normal man who had realized that he, despite being engaged, still had feelings for another woman would have called off the engagement. Anthony spent all of his engagement and most of his marriage pining for Liz.
- He doesn't know a good thing when he's got it; it seems to me that if you wanted to amount to anything in the world, you'd not shackle yourself to a doughy, dough-headed, day-dreaming, passive drunkard like he did. You'd marry Thérèse, you'd follow her advice and you'd like it.
- He's pretty much got the same entitlement issues as the Pattersons; not only does he secretly envy Gordon's success, he's still mad at his father because Daddy Caine told him that if he wanted a car, he'd have to pay for it.
- In a town of deeply conservative people who tend to regard family as the greatest measure of success for a woman, he's known for being the most rigid of all. The concept of post-partum depression so sickened and angered him, he could no longer look Thér%egrave;se in the face.
- He's a passive-aggressive manipulator who not only destroyed his marriage, he got a bunch of dimwitted suckers to side with him.
- He clearly thinks that he's as pure as the driven snow; you and I might compare him to slush or toxic ooze but he and his co-cannibals think he's a great guy.
- Since he's smug, stupid and deceitful, we can't rely on a thing he says.
The only good thing that can be said about him is that his need to please the Pattersons is strong enough to survive Liz's drinking, having to do everyone's taxes and even having to take Elly in when John died. About the only thing that it's not strong enough to endure is trying to get her to get rid of all the useless crap she hoards.
"Of course, the ugliest thing about this wedding is not the eye-searing color scheme that was Liz's sole contribution nor the sort of carny prize floral arrangements that we had to endure or even the fact that the wedding cake is dripping oil; the ugliest thing is that Françoise is being treated like she's radioactive because she's a reminder that the idiots and poltroons gathered together to sanctify this farce conspired to ruin Thérèse's life; it's almost as appalling as the sure knowledge that the "tragedy" she and her mother represent is the "horror" of Liz defining herself as a human being in her own right instead of a machine meant to glorify how great John and Elly are and how they should be rewarded for the performance of needful tasks. I mean, seriously!! Elly can't even be bothered to remember her name because that would mean that she had a right to exist or something; since she's pretty much a living reminder of the cruel, hateful, unfair truth that reality is not up for grabs just because it makes life easier for the Pattersaints, her life is going to be sheer Hell until she gets out of this stain on the map. This, of course, reminds me of another child who's regarded as a burden because she "rebels" against her "destiny" and cannot provide John and Elly services before they die; I'm, of course, talking about April. My advice to you, young lady, is to get the Hell away from these freaks before you become as big a jerk as the rest of them. And don't just do it for yourself; your nephews and nieces are going to need an escape route from this glorified kindergarten where the immature twerp is king and if you can get yourself to a place where you can be an adult, you'd be doing God's work. Don't dawdle either; you're in danger of getting sucked in and being assimilated; they've already got Eva Warzone and Luis Refugee making you half-convinced that venting about a problem is counter-revolutionary. The next step is making the Continental over there into Anthony 2.0; nobody but a Patterson wants that to happen."
"Well, Mrs Caine, the reason I do know that the pilot and police constable you dated feel grateful to see your fat hind end is that I, unlike you, don't walk around in a stupor. Then again, I'm not the daughter of a simpleton who avoided the woman providing the grease-laden catering because of her idiotic misapprehension that Mrs Nichols is capable of forgiveness. My GOD!! The woman is still ranting because her husband gave their eldest a cookie 25 years ago or so. That, of course, isn't the stupidest thing that you clowns believe; only a corn-fed rube who can't tell his jacksie from a hole in the ground would look at the skeevy little drone you're marrying and call him funny, witty, charming and above all, sympathetic."
Having mentioned Anthony, let's see her rip him a new one:
"I thought that'd get your intention, you repulsive moral pygmy. You, sir, are not my idea of what belongs in a house; what you are is a carbon copy of the rigid, humorless, dismally dull-witted, unimaginative, misogynistic, self-absorbed, entitled and immature dunderhead called "Father of the Bride". I still remember hearing about you whining that you didn't have a home to wreck; what you, of course, meant was that you didn't have to sort of home Deanna envies: one in which the wife is an inert, grinning little doll-woman that doesn’t have an opinion of her own (or an IQ higher than room temperature) and who signs off on every stupid decision her idiot husband makes. What really hurts to think about is how everyone curses Therese for being an obstacle to this ugliness and, worse still, invoking the presence of the Big Picky-Face In The Sky who's a big meanie that tells them that they can't have what they want when they want it. As for your 'rescuing' her from the jerk who assaulted her, it was not especially brave or intelligent of you to take Liz to a park and browbeat her into waiting for you to destroy you marriage instead of waiting for the police to arrest the guy. Another thing that isn't especially all that nice is that you sniveling infants presume to look down on Therese for ‘daring’ to complain about something instead of suffering in silence so that you don’t have to face the ‘unfair’ horror of having to consider needs that are not their own. I will commend you on your choice of idiot trophy wife, though; since she's stupid and vain enough to not question how she's the only thing worth your time despite having a wife and child at home, you won't have to worry about losing any more arguments."
"What I said just now doesn't imply that I don't feel sorry for you, dear; having dished it out and taken in, I know how tough it is to deal with the horrible sort of blackmail Michael subjected you to. That's not to say that I don't hate being party to weddings based on that sort of thing....which brings us to the young woman at the center of all this madness. You, Liz, pretty much deserve to be in the fix you're in right now; it's not just because you're a needy, passive lush who'd do anything to please two people who just aren't worth powder and shot, it's that your gutless inability to shut your trap is what set Operation "Super Tasteless Cash-In Fake Wedding" in motion. I know that none of you dullards are going to believe this but I would have preferred that all of us to be in the dark about the real wedding; that way I wouldn't have had to push people's buttons to figure out which of you jerks set it in motion. I also wouldn't have had to listen to you childish, spineless whimperers talking about how you don't want to have any sort of conversation that would involve having to apologize. One thing I've noticed is that Mike gets being a insensitive clod who gets all defensive when cornered from John, you get a martyrdom complex, self-loathing and need to evade personal responsibility from Elly and you both get the idea that having to apologize means a permanent loss of face from both of them. It is thus a sort of justice that you've willed her own ruination by marrying a clone of John; it's what you deserve for your selfishness, immaturity, moral cowardice and refusal to admit that people who criticize you aren't extra-bad people. And don't think that I'm enjoying this; it sickens me that you and Mike are too arrogant, immature and dumb to know that the people that didn't submit to his blackmail and your stringing them along dodged a damn bullet."
"Yes, Deanna; I said "sham" wedding and I meant it; you might have thought you'd gotten away with deceiving me about that but, thanks to the loose lips of Tracey Mayes confirming a hunch your father and I had, we'd found out about the same time as that bunch of saps you gush over. I will admit that you did a great job making us think that it was that idiot Mike or his dolt parents that put you up to it but, well, that's not the case, is it? I should've known it was you all along; I mean, I remembered the stunt you pulled that torpedoed my wanting to give Andrea a great wedding; imagine her thinking that I would have called the whole thing off anyway just because of her false alarm. That's not nearly as bad as why you did it, though; somewhere along the way, you got it into your head that the Pattersaps are better people than we are, that Mike, Liz and April are freer. Since you're the same sort of spoiled and idiotic brat Elly is, you can't even see that she and John expect to be paid back with interest for having to interact with them. That sort of thing dovetails nicely with your thinking that Train Man and the Missus have a good marriage because she's a frustrated mess who can't or won't talk sense to her hubby. And don't you simper at me, girlie; I know I am not perfect but, hey, I admit it! Hating the sin, not the sinner is a mild thing compared to holding a sham wedding, depriving your children because you drew the wrong conclusions from your trip to Hondarus, defending and/or absolving every stupid move Dummy makes, trying to turn April into your damned slave and, judging from the fact that Liz is looking like a gaffed trout, not confiding in your maid of honor."
" Oh, what's that, Michael? You don't like being called ridiculous or selfish? Well. then, don't make wedding toasts like the patronizing, demeaning, belittling, funny-as-three-caskets load of old cobblers you just delivered. You might think that you're witty but what you are is a whiny, sullen, empty-headed little brat who resents the fact that your idiot parents betrayed you by having another child; it's not her fault that your lazy, arrogant dimwit of a mother made your her primary caregiver because she thinks that she's too effing big a deal to have to be near children so get over yourself and quit throwing a temper fit. Thirty years is too long for a tantrum to last. Oh, wait; to do that, you'd have to be aware of how other people saw the world around you. You can't call yourself a real writer because you're a chode whose understanding of the world hasn't progressed much farther than "Sum kids were lost but were fownd." I mean, really; I've heard you talk about your landlady from University and her life of real privation, abuse and disappointment and realized why she's not going to be all smiles and giggles no matter how good the rest of her life might be. You, on the other hand, whine "But whyyyyyyyyy is she so grumpy? I caaaaaaaaan't understand it" like the slow-witted and insensitive little boy you are. All her sorrow and pain meant to you is that you had a nifty story to turn into abuse porn. Sure, you had help bulking it up and making it harder to follow but your mother is no better a guide to good English than she is a source for parenting tips. You might think that a real writer barricades himself in his study and bars his children from his life but that's just not the case; the reason your idiot mother said that is that she's too dumb to multitask. What really bothers me, of course, is the stupid way you handled your former career in the publishing industry. Not only did you go crying to Mommy because Mean Ol'Mr Gluttson asked you to make a decision, you destroyed your professional reputation and left a huge mess for your successor to clean up. Not that I could have expected better; not only are you too stupid to realize that your parents want to own your horses, you don't even get how you got hornswoggled into having a farce wedding by a master deceiver."
"About the only thing that can be said in your behalf, DOCTOR Patterson, is that you married a woman as stupid, greedy and with as much blind hatred for children as yourself. That way, only two people were made miserable instead of four. That's right, "El"; I went there and I brought back some souvenirs. If you aren't the most inept mother I'm fated to encounter, you'll do until she comes along. Having to listen to you yelping about how awful it is having to listen to what children are saying because they don't think and act like you would would be bad enough if you didn't insist that nothing that happened to them mattered or should be thought of as being important or that children know that they're not supposed to move or think without your approval and defy you because they hate the idea of your being happy. Happy? YOU?? That's a laugh!! You're a spoiled brat who can't be happy with anything because you don't want to give other people the pleasure of being right. Well, that and you don't want to admit that you're not the most put-upon mother in the history of ever. That's because you're the sort of screwed-up ignoramus who won't let people help with the housework while whining that they don't help with the housework; that's not nearly as bad as blaming them for your poor study habits, indifferent cooking and literally criminal negligence. And wipe the smirk off your face; you're a lot more controlling than Deanna makes me out to be, Mrs "Own-a-lotta-horses". When I interfere, it's because I want to help someone live better, not to feather my own nest. You, on the other hand, have just married your family to a car dealership so you can pay for your honeymoons in the sun after John stops being the Least Professional Dentist Ever without too much static from April. Too bad that treating her like crap for not wanting to be treated like furniture or to become Deanna's willing slave isn't the worst way you've warped your children. Treating them like crap because you actually had to pay attention to their concerns and acting like the passive sheep were out-of-control monsters that simply had to be exiled to a farm has made the older two almost as ridiculous and selfish as you and Train Man."
"Have I just gone insane or did I just hear you talk about how life is finally going your way? When hasn't it? My GOD, you and your family could fall into a pile of manure, pull out the Crown Jewels of jeezly England and complain about the smell!! You people coast through this life with almost no effort at all and yet you still whine about how hard your lot is and how you've suffered. Having endured your company for the last few years, it's sort of obvious that the cruelest torment you jerks have suffered is the unfair and evil indignity of having to consider viewpoints that are not your own. Not only do you, Doctor Patterson, have no respect, appreciation or gratitude for your idiot wife, you're not even smart or decent enough to be grateful for your kids. I don't know why you're all twisted up and evil inside but get this through your thick skull: your children don't owe you a living because you and Elly brought'em into the world. It's quite the other way around and to think otherwise is to be a monster. It also says nothing good about you that you're the sort of entitled goomba who moves his family to a cramped bungalow so he can play with toys and packs his kids off to a farm when they start thinking for themselves and questioning Daddy's right to own their horses. I shouldn't be surprised, though; you and your shrew of a wife have spent the last five years telling me that a marriage that gets in the way of your tawdry little plans for your middle child isn't legitimate because, well, you wouldn't be able to get what you want when you want it or that the skeevy little prick who whined that his wife expected him to not fuss over you vermin is the Antichrist. The worst of it is that you think you're a good person; you don't know the meaning of the word morality but you think you're honest."
- What kind of rat bastard idiot would leave his wife and children on a rickety fire escape so he could rush into a burning building to save a laptop?
- What kind of spineless idiot is she that she didn't immediately divorce him?
- Why did his parents not insist that he get a new pad for his family as quickly as possible?
- Why did they treat their youngest like a piece of furniture no one know what to do with?
- What kind of freak wants to live in his parents' old house?
- What in the bloody Hell do they mean by "Therese is jealous for no reason"? No matter where she turns, the middle child is always there acting like this other woman is a big, hateful meanie for not wanting her husband's high school girlfriend shoving her nose in where it doesn't belong!
- Why the Hell should that child's sex life have anything to do with making her parents' lives easier; it's not as if they think that she has to pay back the money they spent on her, right?
- Whaddaya mean, they DO think that?
- Who do these people think they are?
It's sort of tough to answer questions like that without denting people's faith in their fellow man; about the only one that one can answer is "Why haven't people, y'know, done something about these creeps?"; the answer, of course, is "They ain't worth killing!"
- Inattention: It's only when you sit down and read a lot of strips in succession that you really start to notice how stupid, selfish, cruel, entitled, gutless and just plain awful the Pattersons are. Since most people don't spend much time thinking about what they read, they don't see that they're cheering on cretins and monsters.
- Apathy: The people who bleat 'get a life' tend to refuse to see that Foob isn't simply drawings on a page; the idea that people take this to heart baffles them owing to a lack of respect for the medium and an unwillingness to see that others do take things to heart. The problem I have with that point of view is that we live in a world wherein children die because they imitate things they see on television; that in itself is proof of the power fiction has over impressionable minds.
- Revisionism: The Yahoo group that used to be fairly active once had a lot of posts that say that we're not seeing the whole Patterson story; they're willing to admit that we do see a lot of horrible things but, hey, Lynn can't show us everything. For every awful deed that makes for drama, there's a lot of boring virtue we don't get to watch.
- Willful blindness: For every one Coffee Talker who's willing to admit that the Pattersons have done questionable things, there are a hundred who don't want to have their heroes' motives questioned. As I've said before, critical thinking is neither welcome or appreciated owing to a belief that only bad people who can't enjoy life criticize things.
- Bigotry: There are a lot of people out there who not only know that the Pattersons do horrible things willingly, they don't see them as being in the wrong. The sort of person I'm thinking of honestly does see that Therese is wrong to expect Anthony to live up to the agreement they made and does wish that April would get a slap in the mouth for 'disrespecting' Elly. They also agree that Paul Wright is made of snow and would melt if he lived in the city and that the sort of Magical Minority that Eva Warzone, Luis Refugee and Shan...non are are what real visible minorities are like.
It's sort of irritating to have to remind myself that the Pattersons are beloved of the oblivious, the ignorant and the unreconstructed; that's because it used to attract those in the know.
Remember when Lynn was really trying to sell Anthony as a 'marriage partner' for Liz? If you'll allow me, I'll translate what she's saying as I interpret it. (I'll also punctuate it and spell it correctly.)
For those of you who oppose Anthony as a marriage partner for Liz, please consider the fact that he has been closely tied to her family all the while she's been away at school and up North.
Translation: They decided on Anthony because he's the least intimidating of the men Liz has brought into their homes; what's more, his mother defers to Elly.
John and Elly invested in, buy their cars from and constantly connect with Gordon Mayes, who owns a successful automotive complex with Anthony now as manager of the repairs and maintenance division.
Translation: this is first and foremost a business deal meant to allow John and Elly more control over Gordon than they currently do.
Both Elly and John regard Anthony highly and ultimately, this bodes well for Elizabeth's future with him. She respects her parents' opinions.
Translation: She's sort of desperate for any sign that she isn't going to spend the rest of her life in Mike's shadow and marrying someone her parents can actually tolerate might do the trick.
She knows his family, his past, his friends and his personality. His appearance as a successful single parent also says a lot about his ability to commit to and sustain a lasting relationship.
Translation: The first part is a reprise of Lynn's talking about how great it is that Mrs Caine won't object to what Elly does to her grandchildren. The second part should have the phrase "with Liz" added to it. Simply put, Thérèse and Françoise were simply the means Anthony used to get to his desired end of having Liz marry him out of pity.
There's another reason, of course, that Liz has to marry Anthony. John and Elly don't just need to have a means of controlling Gordon so that they can continue to enjoy their life of idiotic spending after he retires. We must also remember that Elly needs a child to live with after John goes to that Big Roundhouse
in the ninth circle of Hadesin the Sky. Since she cannot be asked to give up Connie's company, the child she's selected to care for her has to stay in Milborough until she too passes away. It can't be that evil princess Martian who embarrassed her by being right about Kortney and won't follow her destiny of caring for the grandchildren and Mike's too important so Liz is stuck with her idiot mother acting like the poor man's Ed Crankshaft after John's long-overdue death. Since she's arranged her life so that she'll be stuck with her idiot husband, children that don't respect her and the disdain of her friends for being a self-willed non-entity, it's no wonder she drinks.
- First off, we have John. As we all know, it would be an act of the highest charity to call him merely unprofessional. He clearly hates his job, he treats his employees like slaves, he gossips about his family and friends while he's supposed to be focused on the patient and he makes no secret of despising small children. About the only reason I can think of for his having patients at all is that they have no choice.
- Second, we have Elly. We all know that she gushed over a dishonest incompetent who knew how to flatter her, how she couldn't deal with customers and how Moira was actually running things while she sat on her rump and let herself be lied to; what we tend to lose sight of is that it wasn't just being publicly embarrassed when Kortney was unmasked that made her retire. The day-to-day routine of actually having to be an employer was too much for her.
- Her lack of stamina seems to have been passed down to Mike; the instant he was asked to make a real decision, he resigned and went home to cry to Mommy about the mean, ugly man who was picking on him. In the real world, Deanna would have called him an idiot and gotten herself a divorce lawyer; since this is the Foobiverse, she praised him for destroying his reputation and leaving his successor to clean up the mess he made of Portrait Magazine.
Simply put, the Pattersons' ineptitude, stupidity and destructive nature shines through when put in a position of power over their fellows; what is also crystal clear is their not knowing what they're not good at. Since they think that they're great at being in charge, they think that they have the right to boss people around even after they've retired.
- Annie: As you know, she handled the catering for the reception at the hotel where she worked. As you also know, Elly's initial reaction to her marital woes was to shun her like a leper because of a misunderstanding. Instead of realizing that her friend was in the terminal stage of the Foob infidelity cycle and subjecting Steve to eternal torment, she believed that Annie had let herself be oppressed and, as a result, spurned her like a rabid dog.
- Gordon: Their reaction to his abuse was to simper about dark houses and let him handle it himself. Later on, John paid him seed capital and boasted about how he and the family were there for him; how odd that they regard cosigning a loan as an excuse to demand things of him. "Hire our choice for son-in-law, interfere in his marriage, supply us with vehicles, blah, blah, blah."
- Lawrence: Second verse, same as the first; Lawrence got kicked out, the Pattersons (who were as in denial about his sexuality as Connie and Greg) ran around like chickens with their heads cut off and later on puffed themselves up as being his best friends.
In all three cases, the Pattersons were very reluctant to help unless there was something in it for them, they did next to nothing and they think that as a result of their inaction, they deserve to own people's horses. The answer to my question is that these people would be better off with a pit viper in their underwear drawer than the Pattersons in their lives. The problem, of course, is that the rules of the genre state otherwise; since this is chick lit, we're supposed to congratulate these vermin for vermining.