dreadedcandiru2: (Default)

The irritating thing about watching John trying to get his kids to do chores is having to remember a rather nasty little Declining Years Sunday strip in which he moaned that it had taken twenty-nine years for Mike to happily do yard work. One is reminded of the dumb-ass fucking moron parents from Greg Evans’s Luann who don’t give a shit about who she is or how she feels as long as she tidies her room and doesn’t embarrass them in public because John impresses me as being less that concerned with who  the people around him are and more concerned with the roles he’s assigned them.

What this means is that as far as John allows himself to see, Mike is there to rake lawns and that’s all he’s meant to be: someone who does chores without complaint so that Daddy can not strain his sore back. Wanting to be more that doesn’t mean that John is a short-sighted ignoramus who has a sadistic and mechanistic view of who other people are, it means that he has a bad attitude and is ungrateful and defiant….according to John, that is. According to those not monsters of selfishness and entitlement, John’s a God-damned  assole with his head wedged so far up his ass, he could bill himself as The Amazing Human Pretzel.

dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As I've said before, John makes a very questionable and silly decision this August on the day of Phil and Georgia's wedding when he loads a bunch of garbage in the back of the station wagon to take to the dump beforehand. There they all in their best clothes and there's John loading smelly household waste in his ride because he thinks he's beating the system by not waiting until collection day. He tries to beat the system some more by dumping the load in a supermarket dumpster to keep the wife quiet and damned near misses the wedding rooting around in the trash like a God-damned raccoon because his watch goes into the dumpster with the trash.

A lesser man would learn from this sort of foolhardy arrogance and listen to voices that tell him that he's headed for a fall. John is not such a man. John possesses what Red Green calls 'negative courage' in that he proceeds on a course of action despite a lack of information, intelligence and humility. I should think that the lack of humility tends very much to explain the lack of information and intelligence. John seems Hell-bent on not understanding what the people around him actually want to do because he's too bloody arrogant to be bothered paying attention to his surroundings; this is why it seems to come as a confusing shock that Elly doesn't see the advantage of merely paying a dump fee to beat the Man because she's talking about someone else's wedding. Too bad that John is as practical and filled with common sense as Elly is patient or kind. This means that their history is littered with the wreckage created by other stupid ideas.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As I type this, I do so in the knowledge that yet again, tax forms are sweeping the land and spreading gloom across the Foobiverse. While no one I've ever met actually likes paying taxes and most people would follow any random idiot that promises to simplify tax time, no one in the comics pages I've met are as pissed off as the Pattersons...mostly because John stupidly thought that Elly was capable of organizing her life without having to someone threaten to shoot her in the face with a bazooka. The very early years of the strip depicted a family that was treading water because the dull-witted paterfamilias insisted on saving money doing his taxes himself and thus exposing his financial records to an oblivious twit wife whose system is simpering that math is hard as she leaves him with the mess and clumsy imbecile children who think tax forms and calculators are toys.

As I said before, the reason that this is a problem is that the dim bulb's thinking that since he can drill teeth, he can also manage his own business is that he probably fails to exploit tax deductions that he's supposed to claim because he can't understand that Revenue Canada is telling him "Hey, Stupid! We're telling you to write childcare costs off your taxes for a reason!" As I've also said before, once he does turn his affairs over to that swell Anthony, he's going to be mildly delighted because for reasons that aren't that he's a simpleton who paid too much taxes because he thinks being a literal-minded nitwit makes him honest, he's going to get a packet back from the Feds in overcharges. This means that Anthony will be a saviour because understands a tax code John is too dim to penetrate. What it also means is that since John can't admit that he's a moron, he's still going to be angry at Mike, Liz and April for costing him so much and not providing for him.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
It's always bothered me that as far as we know, Jean still thinks that John had an affair with Fiona Brass. It's an honest enough mistake to make, of course. John isn't aware of it but the way he speaks and acts gives most people the impression that his and Elly's marriage is rather fragile. To make a Harry Turtledove character of him, it's never crossed his mind that his breezy dismissal of Elly's hopes and fears, his need to not want to give in to her simple requests because doing so looks like a defeat and the casual way in which he ogles pretty girls make people think that he's about five seconds away from either being served divorce papers or telling one of those pretty girls that his wife doesn't understand him.

It made sense to Jean to assume that he reacted to April's birth by doing something hard to forgive because the stupid bastard neglected to share the fact that Fiona happened to be a relative who looked like Broderick Crawford in a fright wig. Canadian Content Cliff Clavin will gladly tell you everything that's been on his narrow, empty mind since he figured out which end of his digestive tract smelled worse but, for some reason, it never occurred to him to complain about his being shaken down by a con artist relative. This is important because it's why Jean will never confront him with it should she learn the truth.

This is because she remembers who John is and how he has a low tolerance for honest mistakes. If he ever learned that she didn't know who Fiona was and assumed something he didn't feel like understanding, it's rather obvious that he would inflate that one good-faith error into a licence to doubt everything she might tell him. After all, we know that he can't deal with his kids ignorance and mistakes so his thinking "CHEE! She was wrong about Fiona so I don't know if I can trust her about this heavy rain storm washing out the roads" is pretty much what's going to happen. It's not about his being a slow-witted buffoon who can't communicate on a meaningful level, it's about people who can't read his alleged mind.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
As we saw last Sunday, Lynn has issues with gratitude in that she doesn't think that she gets enough of it and people who expect it expect too much of her. What she tends to not remember is that since all of her characters are aspects of her own psyche made to wear the forms of people she knows, she tends to reveal a certain hypocrisy in that the Pattersons never seem to want to admit that things cut both ways.

It seems to me that John's reactions to receiving and having to express gratitude tell us pretty much the whole story in that one little strip. As we saw, he exploded in a sort of blind rage because he believed that he didn't get the level of gratitude he actually deserved while (as always) ended up being utterly dismissive of Elly's equal struggle on his behalf. What I believe to be going on inside his and everyone elses' head is that he thinks too damned highly of himself and not enough of those around him. Despite his (and Lynn's) obvious belief otherwise, it just isn't possible for someone to sustain the sort of groveling gratitude that he clearly expected of Michael without turning into someone who can't function in society. It's as absurd as Elly's belief that Mike's silly little crush on Martha would naturally be followed by them dropping out of junior high and living in sin or John's own belief that praising people for doing what they're supposed to do would somehow turn them into selfish monsters.

What he and the others don't realize is that this explosive over-reaction to not getting the absurd level of deference they expect of those around them and the accompanying tendency to withhold thanks out of entitlement and a fear I'll get to later is that it resulted in men and women who can't thank people because of an instinctive belief that praise and gratitude are traps meant to lead one to being yelled at for being insincere. Not, of course, that we can expect John to admit this. Since the dumb-ass doesn't admit to having a violent temper, a blinkered and self-serving view of his family and a seemingly bottomless level of resentment, he'd be as ready to admit people are right to see him as a humorless, tyrannical ogre as he and everyone else would admit that people who are better than they are at things aren't doing to with the specific intent of mocking them. More on that tomorrow.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
One of the more irritating means by which John tried huffing and puffing about how change is somehow bad because he somehow got defeated forever because his ability to roll over people actually gets challenged was when he made a facile pseudo-profundity about how nothing that the peace-and-love set did seemed to have any lasting effect so they would have been better off getting crew cuts and working for Raytheon. Mike's response was to state that what the boomers gave the world that wasn't a hopelessly muddled political system was an assemblage of poorly-raised and aimless children like himself and Lizzie. While John would go on to make more ill-informed and useless comments about how the world was some sort of magic vending machine because he's too stupid to understand that his betters made things easy for him, Mike did accidentally raise a good point.

After all, most of the reason Mike acts like a damned hillbilly is that he was raised to be one by inept parents. One of the few delights remaining to us in this era of the driving devolution of the democratic dream is having to beat witness to John and Elly playing Pontius Pilate and duck any sort of blame for his lack of standards; they refuse to admit that when they bleat that they had nothing to do with his bringing down the property values even quicker than that ugly-ass model train layout of John's does, people interpret it in a way not in their favour. It's akin to how they wash their hands of his still being stupid, stubborn, gullible and clumsy when they themselves are equally incompetent. The two of them seem to live in a world of magic in which they can will people to be better citizens than they're willing to be.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
One of the lesser-known facts about John is that he cannot see why Elly complains so much about the endless chores that she sets herself is that he finds it so easy as to be pretty much robot work. The realization that Elly finds it as intimidating as the children do the endless homework dropped on their laps is not one that he ever seems to have made. It's akin to how Elly doesn't want to admit that her children seem to have picked up putting a chore they hate at the last possible second from her. Time and again, she makes an excuse to avoid doing something she sees as being a horrible, demeaning task and time and again, she doesn't want to know why the kids think it's okay to procrastinate when doing a needful chore whose completion is public proof that she's not a failure as a mother. We also must remember that while Elly complains about being interrupted and how long it takes her to get back into the same flow she had before the kids asked her to interact with them, she never quite understands that her habit of helpfully butting in when she's not needed is part of why homework takes so long. After all, it's not as if the kids have the same inability to get back in the swim of things after being badgered about meal time that she has, no, not them. They can pick up right where they left off and not forget where they were. This, it should be noted, is why she (and to a lesser extent, John) forget that the kids tend to have to have their knowledge retested at the beginning of the school year. (More on that after I reveal why Liz really became a teacher.)

What John seems to not want to see is something the kids picked up from him is the sort of misplaced envy that makes Michael wish he was born second so he wouldn't be disciplined for anything. John would give anything not to be the sole responsible adult capable of functioning autonomously so he bitterly envies Mike the others the very easy work they have while blanking out on the inconvenient little details that make his envy as ridiculous as his playing with trains. First off, it took him until he was in his mid-fifties to get it through his thick skull that only April shared his skill at mental arithmetic and that bellowing at Mike for not getting something that his brain simply cannot process was perhaps a waste of time that made him look like an ugly and malicious fool. This leads to the other blind spot: his children expected a bit more help than being handed things they don't know what to do with and being told "Get busy while I waste my time doing bills that I would have been better off trusting to a competent accountant instead of going broke saving money."
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
If the reprints are still an on-going concern in three years time, we're going to be hip-deep in the "The Pattersons remodel their kitchen" story arc. As you know, the problem is John simply can't see the point of spending loads of money remodeling a room he doesn't use despite his being able to as easily afford it as he can his ego gratification-mobile sports car. The way he talks, you'd think that he was some slob one paycheque away from debtor's prison instead of a reasonably-well off professional who can afford to remodel his house no problem.

The reason that I mention this is that John never seems to be quite aware of how good he has it finance-wise. As I mentioned once before, our hero seems to go through this life with the assumption that he's gotta live on the much lower take-home of his coal-miner/farmer father than the much more padded wallet of the dentist he is. I ascribe this to his very real need to not adapt to changing circumstances owing to the misapprehension that changing how he thinks is a horrible defeat that would lead to an infinite humiliation instead of the advantage it is. Were he less inclined to squeal poverty when confronted with life's demands, he might even start to think that no, his children aren't freeloading off of him.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
Of course, the belief that he's doing Elly a favor by trying to save her from the 'delusion' that she should be more that Mrs Doctor Patterson isn't the only means by which John thinks that he's being a great guy by doing something antisocial and self-defeating. As we are about to see, his attempts to reconcile Elly to a physique that her in-built preferences and her being raised by a crazy woman who made contradictory noise about cleaning off her plate while also maintaining a desirable silhouette made her see as being fat, pale, old and ugly blew up in his stupid face because Nice Guys™ just do not know how to give compliments that aren't left-handed. The drooling jackass thinks that he's helping when he wants her to admit that she can let it all hang out because while he himself is a vain fool obsessed with his own looks, he believes that there's an age window in which women should care about their appearance. This is not only why he gets on her last nerve about riding her about an appearance she's never been happy with, it's why he bleats about how horrible it is that ten-year-old Liz should care about how she looks because she's too young to feel good about what she sees.

This brings me to the other thing that he's proud of that he shouldn't be: his being an unapproachable, insenstive, high-strung, unyielding oaf of a father who takes a perverse pride in not understanding where his children are coming from and being totally uninvolved in their lives because that's the mother's job. Since we're dealing with a total goit here, he confuses the result of a necessity (his father working like a piston and thus being too tired to interact with him) with a law of nature. Granted, he works hard but not AS hard as a coal miner so has only the excuse of lower back pain he won't treat to keep him from being a real dad instead of merely the biological adjunct of a chair.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
One of the many, many mistakes clingy, needy, wussy Nice Guys™ make is that they seek out women they judge to be somehow damaged in order to "fix" them because of their need to provide what they deem to be help. The same sick, fatuous impulse that drives Anthony's stomach-churning fantasy in which he makes it clear that he sees Liz not as a person with hopes, dreams and fears of her own but as a passive object to be rescued propelled an equally repellent moron ages ago.

Said nincompoop is, of course, John Patterson. You see, forty or so years ago, our lad came across a woman he still believes needed rescuing from herself and her silly and bizarre belief that she somehow needed an identity independent of a male when it seemed obvious as all Hell to the oblivious and unobservant git that his mother was a happy homemaker who was content as anything to be Mrs Will Patterson. Although it's obvious as all Hell to me (owing to my brain doing something John's doesn't called "functioning") that Carrie might have loved to be more than a mere housewife, she also knew that Society would look down on her for leaving her family in the lurch and so on and so forth. Since she wasn't given a choice that wouldn't hurt, she just made the best of the same bad situation other Carrie Pattersons were in and put aside happy thoughts of a life of ease and fulfillment until after the nest emptied.

Since John is a smirking bonehead who, like most of his kind, revels in being unaware of the subtext that surrounds him, confused her smiling her way through the grimly inevitable with contentment with her lot in life because it confirmed what his real parent (network television) told him. Given that his predilection towards thinking that people were put on the Earth to serve him was validated by hucksters who don't want to rock the boat and are all kinds of scared of women to begin with, his belief clearly seems to have been that were he to rescue Elly Richards from her many, many "neuroses", he would become a more worthy person and thus receive the approval of society. What's more, he would have her gratitude.

What went wrong is, of course, that his happy little fantasy ran aground on the rocky shoals of a place Nice Guys fear: the land of objective reality. Since John is stupid and blind and stubborn and proud of it, he doesn't get it that he's not seen as a savior whose help is longed for but as an antagonist that Elly spent the longest time thwarting. This caused him to retreat to an alcove in angry confusion and fear. The only reason that the two of them are still together is that they're not around each other long enough to antagonize one another. The sad thing is that said distance has allowed them to befriend the impostor lack of contact created. John loves the dedicated housewife he thinks Elly is and she the supportive husband of her fantasies. This would be bad enough were it not the happy ending that Mike, Deanna, Liz and Anthony are destined to embrace.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru2)
It's probably bad enough that John would be willing to knowingly let his family be unfairly penalized by his angry lunatic of a wife in the name of presenting a united front and keeping her from really seeing what's wrong with her life and thus leaving him without his not realizing that that will never happen. The poor fool seems to have never realized that while Elly might be angry at him and the kids for not supporting her goals, she doesn't really have the stamina or willingness to pursue them. Take, as an example, the college education she never seemed to have found the time to complete. While he might fear that an Elly with a degree might decide that she doesn't need him, he doesn't realize that she loves the idea of not having a degree to hold over the children's heads far more because of his stupid habit of taking Elly's endless beefing at face value. You would think that her feeling that she was justified in screaming NO!!! NO!!!! NO!!!!! when he offered her a solution that wouldn't allow her to have her cake and eat it too would have taught him that he married a woman who likes having problems she can't solve so she doesn't have to try and possibly fail but he hasn't twigged to it yet. Doing that might mean that he isn't a great judge of character and since that would mean that he's as dumb as people say he is, that would be awful.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
As we all know, Elly is like all of us in that she wants deep down to feel as if she's been a positive influence on the world. She might disguise her need to be validated by giving it the name "duty" but we all know that she wants to be appreciated. The premise of the strip is, after all, Elly's long-term battle to make sure that someone out there appreciates what she does for them and praises her for it; the Settlepocalypse is thus supposed to be the family's way of showing Elly that they are grateful by gathering together to launch Elizabeth on her journey through what Lynn calls 'wedded bliss' and 'the good life' and what we call 'suburban ennui' and 'the persistence of folly.'

What this means is that not only does Elly do things because she lets people who want to exploit her for their own selfish ends do so, she goes the extra mile in order to prove to people who've gotten so used to her scurrying around that she's become invisible that they can count on her. The revenge effect of this sort of self-defeating behaviour is that Elly has unwittingly trained her family to expect more of her than they really sort of deserve to have. What ended up happening is that the more she tried to convince John that, no, she didn't sit on her ass all day, the more she ended up doing and the less of it he saw.

When you combine her need to kowtow to lazy people in order to not feel like an idler and her need to show the inattentive that she does a lot of things for them with her third crippling tendency of wanting things done in just one way, it's not much of a surprise that Elly ends up looking like a damned zombie half the time.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
The recent reprinting of the Sunday strip in which John boasts about how easy it is to start his poorly-serviced, barely-functioning death trap of a car is yet another example of a phenomenon that irritated me back when I started this blog. Back then, it used to bother me that Elly witlessly bought a bunch of cheap bed-sheets that pilled up and required shaving when she could easily have afforded better quality sheets that lasted longer. It always used to baffle me that neither she or John want to spend within their means when it comes to essentials like that. Sure, they'll blow high dough on toys and vacations but when it comes to bread and butter things like servicing appliances, keeping the sump pump working or making sure that the hoverwagon doesn't just plain die on the 401, they cry poverty. I stopped being baffled when I made a joke about how when John tries to figure out what he can afford to spend on something, he tends to unconsciously lower the ceiling to what his dad can afford when he'd rather not do it. When he sees something that he likes or makes him feel good, he remembers that he's a mildly prosperous dentist who can easily afford it; when he'd rather not do it or when it doesn't make his life easier, he suddenly has the same resources as his broke-ass dad. This is why he can buy toys with aplomb and moan piteously about the expense of remodeling his kitchen or getting his old beater looked at before it explodes with him in it. It's the financial equivalent of Elly's hapless inability to factor her children into her life.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
The strip in which John told Elly that sooner or later, her job at the library would become a grueling, unsatisfying ordeal that will make her feel less and less human with each passing day is not just another example of the little girl who thought that having to grind away like most people was a sucker deal. It was also another example of Elly needing to be reassured that John wasn't angry with her. Since he's probably used to her asking that question, he doesn't quite realize that this is not a normal thing to be asked.

Another thing that isn't normal is that she was disappointed that he took it in stride. The punchline I used to title this entry is the specimen example of what I'm talking about. You see, a few years from now, Lynn is going to reprint the series in which Elly gets into a fender-bender while driving John's sports car. As we know, she made a big production about his reaction there-to. While one could easily anticipate a car-nut like him being upset about the damage to his baby, a normal person could also expect him to not be upset with Elly herself. After all, she's not responsible for there being idiot drivers and blind turns. This means that he was as astonished as the rest of us by her need for him to be angry at her. Given this and other incidents that are no big deal but still ended up being big deals anyway, we have to come to the conlusion that John is too stupid to realize that Elly needs for there to be uproar for things to feel normal. She isn't aware that she's creating chaos and doesn't like it but since she grew up in a state of panic and acrimony, the quiet she claims to want rattles her something fierce; since John is a nitwit, he doesn't see that when it's staring him in his stupid face.

He also doesn't see that his consistent refusal to ask himself the question "Is this a real emergency or is Elly screaming about nothing because she needs chaos to feel needed again" makes him an ugly fool and a lousy father. There are so many examples of John making an ass of himself because he can't wrap his pea brain around the fact that Elly is a natural-born shit disturber who needs to feel bad to feel right that I'd save time just linking to the catalog to show them to you.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)

As I’ve said before, I really don’t like the way Michael reacts to the ‘horrifying’ and ‘unfair’ prospect of his mother ‘betraying’ him by re-joining the labour force. From his self-centred and ridiculous comments about the time Elly used to be a ‘real’ mother to his petulant whining about having to adapt to something not in the philosophy of some arsebucket of a hack sitcom writer, Michael makes it something of a point of pride to be a passive-aggressive, obstructive jackass whining about how unfair it is that things have to be arranged so that he gets off his lazy arse and helps out. The most irritating example of this tendency is his sitting in his living room stuffing his face full of food while whining about joining the ranks of the deprived. He might think of himself as being a figure of pity being persecuted but he’s not. He is simply a spoiled little boy who has to do something for someone else and he doesn’t like it a God-damned bit. Given the right guidance and the snotty little jackhole might actually become someone who isn’t a simpering twit.

Too bad he doesn’t have anything like the right sort of guidance. As we’re about to see, John thinks that having to adapt to his wife’s schedule instead of forcing her to scurry around like an imbecile of a morning is a horrible sacrifice on his part while Elly thinks that she’s gone the extra mile by lowering herself to buy her picky-faced princess butter tarts without raisins. In both cases, a lazy jerk thinks that having to think about the needs of other people is akin to being flayed alive. Or, if you really want to talk about something painful, having to attend one of their children’s events and thus be defeated by them.

dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
You might that that Ted's life is bad enough considering that the toxic idiot that his friend John married has far too much influence in both their lives. Not only would his relationship with Connie have gotten a lot smoother had someone not gotten her even more focused on marrying than she already was, he can't rely on any sympathy from John because he believes Elly's version of events. While our lying eyes might tell us that he's so hung up on Connie that he doesn't know if he's coming or going, we're told that he's a shallow jerk stringing her along. Since Lynn never seems to have realized that what she thinks is obvious to her would be obvious to everyone, what we're left with is a confused man whose sole mistake is trying to please too many people being cast as a heartless jerk because the sitcom mutant his old drinking buddy married hates him.

What must really sting is the realization that Elly rarely gets her facts straight. I know that I like to talk about the "I QUIT MOTHERHOOD!!" series a lot but I think that it's germane to the discussion. This is because Elly only thought that April had flipped her off because she wanted to see it. It's like how she used to insist that Mike's simply wanting to know what Mommy was saying meant that he was trying to be a defiant little jerk pushing her buttons; she wanted to see that so that's what she saw. Simply put, Elly wants to see signs that Ted is a jerk because she's a belligerent yahoo who likes to be angry. She could no more give Ted the benefit of the doubt than she could publicly admit that she goes into a blind rage for the sake of going into a blind rage. When you combine this with her child-like inability to understand adult relationships and social norms that get in the way of her winning and her need to nail herself to her cross, what generally happens is that John has to figure out what she means when she spouts her belligerent hokum.

This is why marrying a dullard who doesn't like to think comes in handy. Anyone who knows John can tell you that the person who confirms his biases for him stands the best chance of being believed. Since he thinks that Ted can't be taken seriously because he didn't do what THEY said and witlessly marry a fruitcake so he could have a free maidsettle down, it only stands to reason that Elly must be right about his being a jackass. Since John is a very lazy man, it's sort of obvious that he isn't going to find out what happened for himself. He's also a very stupid man because he can't seem to realize that someone who claims more knowledge than they should really have is usually making most of it up.
dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)

I feel it only fair to warn you right off the bat that the scenario I’m about to write probably wouldn’t happen in the real world and probably doesn’t need to. After all, all of us go through our lives never knowing that certain people think certain things about us that just aren’t the case so it doesn’t really matter if John never learns that his office wife thought that he was having an affair because he was going through a rough patch at home. This little glimpse into either the present day or near future is simply me scratching an intellectual itch.

That being said, I think that we can safely agree that even though Fiona is only about three or so years older than John, she’s lived a hard life and taken poor care of herself. We can thus expect her to, if not die outright, have the same sort of severe heart attack that Mike’s muse Agnes Dingle had a while back. This, I think, should lead to a rather interesting conversation between John and Jean. Since he hasn’t the vaguest idea that Jean has cast Fiona as the other woman, he’ll have no real idea why she tenses up when he talks about her or why Jean keeps asking him to explain what he means by saying that Fiona’s just his cousin. One “CHEE!! You act like I was having an affair with her” later and he’ll finally learn about the misapprehension Jean has been labouring under for twenty two years.  He’ll also learn that Jean only pretends to respect him because she wants to keep her job as well as learning that Jean feels sorry for Elly having to be married to an unsympathetic buffoon who treats her so cavalierly that adultery would be par for the course.

Since he’s rather averse to seeing the sort of nitwit we see, he’s not going to take the revelation that he’s thought of as the sort of bastard whose response to a new child is to run off and chase something fluffy down a rabbit hole well. I also don't expect her comment about how the only time that he didn’t make his life an open book coming back to haunt him to sit well either. The only person I expect to be pleased by all of this is Elly. The idea that Jean has her back no matter what would certainly make her feel better than she has in years owing to her clear belief that no one is in her corner.

dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)

In my haste to demonstrate a hair-colour based link between John and Elizabeth, I neglected to mention another commonality: their inability to understand basic social conventions. As I like to remind you, Liz made a complete bungle of her dealings with Thérèse because she was too damned stupid to understand what was actually happening. In her letter for January 2005, she babbled on witlessly about how she needed to be cut some slack because she didn’t hang off of Anthony, flirt with him or intrude into their lives; what she failed to realize is that while she might have done nothing active, life is rarely that simple. The poor deluded child couldn’t seem to connect all the veiled comments Gordon, Shawna-Marie, Dawn and Candace made about how they all saw Thérèse as being Anthony’s first wife or the coincidences contrived by other people to force a confrontation with the woman’s animosity towards her. To connect the two phenomena would be like accepting that even though she wasn’t going to the wedding with the express purpose of humiliating Thérèse, she’d be perceived as doing so. The idea that other people would see her as intending something she didn’t sailed right over her head.

Trying to explain that to her is like trying to explain to her that the only reason that Mike messed with her over the years is that he knew that if he kept at it, he could get the predictable pay-off of her exploding in rage or tears or both. It never, ever occurred to her even the once that most of why she got teased is that she made it so damned easy. In her mind, her first explosion should have warned Michael off; the idea that the world simply doesn’t work that way is as unfair as the idea that what she does and what Thérèse sees are two different things entirely because she has no idea how people think and doesn’t want to clue in.

As I said yesterday, she shares this inability to connect what she’s perceived as doing with what she intends to do with John. Most of the reason why he spent the Housening thinking that April was worried over nothing is that he hasn’t the blindest idea that he’s perceived as having not had her best interests at heart. It’s all well and good to harrumph about how children should trust their parents but at the end of the day, you have to at the very least look as if you do. He failed that test and still doesn’t even see it. It’s a lot like how he spent most of the eighties making it perfectly clear that he didn’t want to deal with his children unless it amused him and the nineties wondering why they didn’t feel as if they belonged anywhere. Trying to explain to him “The reason Liz doesn’t feel as if she belongs anywhere is that you act as if you don’t want her around” is as futile as telling him “Well, John; the children simply cannot survive on their own so they don’t actually owe you anything”; just as trying to tell Liz that she looks like she strung Paul Wright along would elicit shrill cries of denial, telling John that he made himself look unapproachable and unsympathetic would cause him to growl in baffled anger.

You can see their problem, of course. Admitting that what it looks as if they’re doing is a damned sight more important than what they intend would lead to a very uncomfortable question: “What the Hell do you actually know, anyway?”

dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)

Of course Elly is not the only person to not take a damned thing away from her encounter with the man she only thought was Fred Willis. John also failed to learn anything about himself or the world around him. If he had learned anything, he might start doing something that Elly is also guilty of. Said flaw came into play when she bellowed at him for going to the wrong vacation cabin despite her own belief that they were indeed at Ted’s little vacation nook. Simply put, the poor, stupid fool cannot seem to shake the counter-productive habit of not asking questions. A sane, sensible person would have asked the question “Is that Fred at all?”; a sane, sensible person would also have asked himself “Is Elly about to make a fool of herself by insisting on something she can’t be sure of?” This is because a sane, sensible person wants to be aware of his surroundings. John’s preferred state seems to be to live in a self-induced fog so that he can be isolated from an unfair world that insists that he give as well as take. Thus we have a man who makes an ass of himself again and again because he relies on the biased testimony of an impetuous imbecile with a persecution complex.

What he also doesn’t learn about himself is what an ugly fool he looks like when he slobbers repulsively when confronted with an attractive woman. His inability to control his roving eye and the urges in his areas is not, as he thinks, simply part of being a man; the idea that it means that he never bothered outgrowing the adolescent impulse to go roadside with everything in sight is as troubling as his inability to see the objects of his baffled desire as more than being, well, objects. He also doesn’t realize that he makes Elly’s concern that given the right conditions, he will do something about his impulses legitimate.

Most troubling of all, of course, is that he cannot be bothered worrying about the ramifications of Elly’s having been right. While it is true that most of why he hates Ted is that he welched on a promise that he may or may not have made, his admiration for Not-Fred’s boldness and cleverness blinds him to the despair and heartache June would have to experience had that actually been Fred. Odds are, he would have been more concerned about how much work Fred would have had to do to maintain a double life than the irrelevant concern of the hormonal over-reaction of women to the victimless crime of adultery.

The reason that he doesn’t see himself as having any sort of a problem is that whole “living in a fog” thing I mentioned. He would rather not pay attention to what he’s doing because of his fear that he’d have to lose face by admitting that he can’t live on autopilot.

dreadedcandiru2: (Snarky Candiru)
The most irritating thing about the whole "acknowledge the power of the bully to do whatever he wants and he'll leave you be" arc is knowing that the only parent who did anything about anything as far as Brad was concerned is Elly. Granted, her underreaction to the presence of someone who wants to smack Mike around is as misguided as her later hoping that April would somehow learn to tolerate the presence of a hateful little piece of excrement who wanted to beat her half to death because his daddy ran off to play harmonica in a band but at least she's aware of his presence. My guess is that when John hears the name Brad Luggsworth, he draws a blank because the wife he married to keep him from having to be too involved with his children is doing too damned good a job. While he does know the name Jeremy Jones and does agree that it's sort of stupid of Elly to think that April is somehow supposed to be friends with the second-generation slur against children of single-parent homes, he seems to have never heard of the boy who clobbered Mike. This seems to me to be something of an act of collective stupidity; she should have said something and he should have bothered to pay attention to his children. It tends to make me think that he had no idea that the gate might have presented a problem.

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