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Elly is not Canada's Worst Driver.

The interesting thing is that in two years, Elly will be dealing with a rather annoying problem: a traffic ticket. What happened is that some rich moron with more money than sense thought nothing of passing a school bus on the right like some kind of aggressive dolt and t-boned John's joy wagon. Rather than accept responsibility for it, Trust Fund Timmy blames her for the accident and, well, since he's a rich kid and she's a housewife and policemen in the Foobiverse are unsympathetic civil servants who fawn over criminals while threatening to jail the innocent just for standing up for their rights, she's slapped with an unfair ticket that she has to fight in court. She manages to win the day only to get nailed for failing to feed the parking meter.

The reason that I mention this is that despite the nasty jokes men make about Elly's driving skills, Lynn awarded her avatar a trait she clearly wishes she had herself: fairly good driving skills. She might prefer to drive minivans and station wagons and wishes that everyone drove something safe and practical that can carry lots of groceries and kids but she is fairly adept at driving....unlike Trash Bag Johnny who has a slight tendency to be a lead-foot.

April's true purpose revealed.

The other day, I was reminded that the music teacher April wanted to impress was a Mr Bergan. The reason this seemed odd is that it's quite likely that Aaron blew off the Lynn Lake Bergan because he got bored and frustrated so it seemed to howtheduck as if perhaps Lynn was trying to tell him what he should have done instead of quit and say horrible things about how she's an unsympahetic, unsupportive jerk.

Another odd thing is that April is clearly expected to pay her way through life instead of expecting her poor, overstretched parents to lift a finger to help her. They can throw insane weddings, they can buy book stores on a whim, they can go on kid-unfriendly trips South but somehow, there just isn't enough dough for her. This is possibly Lynn telling her kids that she's tired of having to support them.

What this possibly means is that April exists primarily so Lynn can nag her adult children without appearing to; since she's not based on a real child, she can say anything or do anything and they aren't supposed to care because it's not "really" one of them she's criticizing.

The part-time job perplex.

One of the odder things about April is that unlike hockey player Mike and figure skater Liz, she didn't have any sort of real extracurricular activities to put on her application for university. Aside from that damned garage band, she had no after school activities because her idiot mother made her report in to that damned book store because once again, panicky moron Elly assumes that "kid in house alone = total destruction" because she simply cannot bring herself to trust her kids. While Mike was the idiot who did come up with the idea, it's probably one Elly would have come up with on her own anyhow.

This is because it's highly likely that the reason putting April to work was so damned easy is that Jim and Marian did that to Elly as a teenager. We have in Marian a parent who probably assumed that learning good work habits would be better for Elly than 'gadding about and getting into mischief' (that's limey half-wit for 'developing social skills') and in Jim yet another male with a family farm complex who dreamed futile dreams of keeping his business in the family. It would have made a lot of sense to both of them to keep Elly from 'doing herself harm' (which means 'finally figuring out how to decipher blazingly obvious social cues') by volunteering her. The end result of the stolen adolescence is what we see now: a frustrated moron who doesn't understand what's going on around her and who makes pious noise about hostile strangers and body language because her Depression kid parents perpetrated the dick move called "grand theft functioning in society."

On the care and feeding of girl posses.

The very interesting thing about the mess Mike makes with Martha is not that he's too entrenched in yowling the mantra "but that's different" when she tells him that she too has friends that she has to keep from turning into antagonists. We know that Mike is big enough an arrogant idiot to assume sight unseen that if she really loved him, she'd be willing to torpedo a friendship or two just to keep him happy. The interesting thing is that Janet and Meg would have to be the only instances of a phenomenon familiar to most kids: the largish clique of teen-aged girls that make a sinister joke of themselves acting as if some spoiled, ignorant child has the experience or right to decide who fits where on the social hierarchy of the artificial environment in which we incarcerate our adolescents.

While we do get the roving band of male chums (which indicates that Lindy was paying attention to the social circle of whatever luckless fool she'd decided would be her Mustache Man) dominating Mike's high school years, Lizzie and April appear to be pretty much social outcasts complaining about a mean girl. Liz stood around moaning about the power Candace had over her and April spent entirely too much time screaming about the fake-ass war Becky declared on her because she didn't want to admit that her job is to feed an incompetent's ego. This combines about Elly's mournful thought-bubbling about lacking the body and the language to make me think that Lynn Ridgway was kind of on the outside looking in back in the day. The irritating thing is having to remember the flashbacks and what she looked like in them. I'll get to that tomorrow.

The last gasp of Doctor Ted.

The interesting thing about the upcoming month is not that we're going to have Elly be baffled that the son she thinks is rejecting her is still pathetically dependent on her. What we're going to be dealing with is John's need to have an ego-gratifying toy collide with Ted trying to get John to be a worthless and disgusting cheating cheater who cheats because cheaters are a menace to marriage and goodness and so on and so forth. This, of course, is only laying the ground-work for the last stage of the irritating soap-operatic revenge fantasy Lynn wanted to mutate the strip into back when she wanted to have John cheat on Elly with Sue the Librarian.

This is why the man has degenerated into a cartoon villain incapable of quite seeing that other people have feelings and the right to feel as if they matter as well. In two or three months, he'll be moaning about how people ascribed too much meaning to things that he didn't want to mean anything because he's basically a stupid kid who won't see the other person's point of view. Eventually, he'll become a dirty old man who gets laughed at by women who don't want to date some old fogey in a leisure suit. That'll teach him to think that Elly isn't a demigod who he has to obey.

The problem hair quandary.

One of the more irritating things that I have to look at when I read a teens-are-monsters strip is watching the moron parents wail that their childre don't smile anymore and don't seem to love them as much as they did when they were younger and more docile. I should think that the comic strip "Stone Soup" hints as to why this is.

This is because every so often, we have to deal with the irrational and stupid fallacy "Holly wants to focus on something she can actually do something about therefore she can't care about something she can't be rationally expected to be able to do anything about" with the same sort of regularity that John makes hateful noise about problem hair. At one point, Holly flat out said that while she did actually worry about the big picture concerns that Val uses as a stick to beat her over the head with, there ain't much a middle school student can actually do so she'd rather focus on a problem she can solve instead of burning her life away because Mommy wants to heap too much on her.

This, as one could expect, meant less than nothing to Val because she doesn't see herself as she is any more than the Pattersons do. While Holly can be a pain in the ass who puts too much stock in clothes, make up and boys, she is right to state that Valerie does indeed expect far too much of her. This is something Val has in common with John because he doesn't realize that one of the reasons Liz was moody is that adults like him seem to be doing nothing to fix the problems he invokes because he assumes that it's not only her job to be an emotional crutch, it's on her to clean up his generation's mess right now so he can take credit for her hard work.

Them From There.

Given that most syndicated comic strips seem to be by, of and for small-minded people stuck in the past, it should come as no real surprise that the Pattersons aren't unique in preaching the Teens-as-monsters gospel that litters the page. We get to why that is when Mike sort of hugs Elly but doesn't want to be seen doing it because it might get him razzed by the guys. This points us to something that none of the adults in the strip want to have to face.

This same phenomenon is pointed to when we have to remember the depressingly stupid spectacle of Elly bawling her eyes out because Lizzie went to a stranger with her problems instead of turning to Mommy like a little kiddie of two years old with a booboo. Simply put, at some point, children start to see their parents as part of the problem instead of part of the solution because they see themselves as being more mature than they are and make the mistake of thinking that what's happening to them is happening for the first time to anyone ever. Mike can't be the smiling, upbeat creature people shopping for an emotional crutch need because he thinks that he's being unfairly held down. The problem is that this leads to his being unfairly held down because his parents are boomer morons who never outgrew the adolescent habit of thinking that they're the first people ever to have to had to deal with a moody goofola of a kid.
As you know, Lynn seems to behave as if she's not in complete control of her own strip and talks about how the characters tell her where things are going. One of the examples she uses is how Supermom Annie turned into Pathetic Incompetent Annie about the same time Lynn moved from Lynn Lake to Corbeil. What she doesn't seem to realize that she's revealed (probably because she's only dimly aware of doing it) is that when she n says that a character no longer speaks to her, what she actually means is that she isn't in contact with the person she based said person on. This is possibly why Molly and Gayle go away; the real people went South to go to University.

What this means for the strip here and now is that the Lynn of 1987 is trying to process the decline in her parents as best she can by offering up the Last Days of Thelma Baird. She'd planned on there being more coins in her mother's meter but it's sadly obvious that Thelma's death next Spring is her way of trying to deal with the immediate effect of her mother's rapidly-approaching passing. Certain other things become obvious given the infamous Heintjes interview. The first obvious thing is that it took years for her to get sufficiently over the 'disappointment' that was Mrs Ridgway not tearfully admitting that she should have been a fountain of unearned praise which is why it took ten years for her to write the sappy cliche-storm of dutiful daughters and sunshine and shadow and so forth. Before that, she was still very angry with her mother for saying cruel things that proved that she detested her such us "Well, you push Aaron and Katie's characters in your strip because Elly wants them to do better; why is that wrong when I do it?"

This is also why Jim still lived on. Lynn didn't want to let him go because Mervyn wanted to let the dead rest and also didn't see that he should have beat the tar out of his wife because his kid had a screw loose and didn't want to admit that sometimes, you have to be firm with kids to make sure they turn out okay.

The Thelma Baird Legacy, Part Two.

One of the more irritating habits Lynn had is that she couldn't quite allow herself to let characters she didn't see as having much in common with one another interact. The same woman who can't include characters who don't talk to her doesn't seem to be present when they talk to one another; this is sort of a let-down because it's obvious that she missed out on a nifty.

This is because it's clear as anything that Marian Richards and Thelma Baird would have taken an instant dislike to one another. Next door to Elly is a professional dog breeder who saw pets as a positive thing that enriched lives and who didn't see the point of Elly's regime of endless screaming and never allowing herself to be pleased by anything. Back 'home' on the West Coast is a bitter lunatic who hates dogs because of her own lousy childhood, kept Elly from winning arguments to make her a nice child and who thinks that if a child is allowed to know that what she does pleases her mother, said child will simply sit down and die in a puddle of her own filth because an idiot English Canadian like Marian is hard-wired to imagine a child thinking 'My mommy loves me so I don't have to exert myself or grow or get better; I can now just vegetate because I'm loved'.

The irritating thing is not just that Marian would clearly have thought she won the inevitable argument about her lousy methods and how they made Elly the paranoid bug-fuck crazy rage goblin she is today because fate denied Thelma a child. The irritating thing is not that Marian never regretted a single hurtful word or shrugged off her child's heartache. The irritating thing is, as always, that Marian is too damned stupid to understand that Elly isn't a normal person. She died never understanding that Elly took her to mean only what she said she meant and went to her death not accepting the anecdotal evidence of husbands, sons, sons-in-law, relatives and others who didn't know what they were talking about that suggested that Elly saw herself as a despised and regretted disappointment who couldn't make her mother happy, Elly God-damned knew that she was loved and respected and no one had to tell her that.

Ah, well. Since this strip allows for a sort of bullshit afterlife with ghost dogs hanging around trees so they can play with their abusers and dead women sewing Miracle Dresses, we can imagine that instead of Masky McDeath ushering her into the void, Thelma would be there to show Marian the truth. Since, as the Japanese say, only death can cure a fool, only death could make Marian see the damage she did loving Elly in a way she couldn't understand and that made her feel like a garbage person. This is why I think that instead of Marian's ghost helping out with the dress, that's Thelma subbing for someone who avoids her family out of shame.

The Thelma Baird Legacy, Part One

Now that Thelma has appeared for the last time, it's time to take stock of what she leaves behind: Elly's dislike of having to hear about a past she wasn't part of, Elly's distaste for having someone old come along and mess with the way she raises the kids, Elly's baffled horror at the prospect of old people being in love and Elly's discomfort with having been stuck with a dog that's a sticking point with her mother.

Remember, Elly seems to see herself and her wants and needs as being the only ones that exist and it's sort of beyond her capabilities to quite understand what Thelma saw when she looked at the dentist's young wife. While Horsebun Elly is still trying to figure out why it was that being a mentor figure to Gayle Thomas didn't work out, she doesn't realize that Thelma saw Low-Hanging Ponytail Elly as being a similar sort of person in that what she saw was an angry, lonely mess without actual friends to help her raise her kids.

This is because Thelma would have had to see what most people saw when they looked at Connie and Annie. On the one hand, Elly made a love object of a clingy, needy, mousy neurotic living a life of noisy desperation barging over for a shoulder to cry on and with Annie, you have the too-clever-by-half type confidently spouting nonsense while denying her husband's obvious bad traits. Worse, the poor child is clearly too hung up on trying to please the same sort of blind-eyed house-proud shrew Thelma knew all too well growing up in Yorkshire; it was thus obvious that this poor angry young thing needed a good influence to keep her from doing perfectly nice children lasting damage. Since Elly doesn't know how damaged she is owing to her need to award herself positive traits she doesn't have, she doesn't understand that she was the target of a mentor. What she does know is that she already had a mother...which is kind of the problem.



Snarky Candiru2

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