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If I recall correctly, Lynn had a sort of vague plan she failed to follow through on about five years ago when she injected Janice Madigan into the strip. What she alluded to was contrasting the bad, Elly-antagonizing (and thus unintentionally sympathetic) tomboy Janice with the mother-approved girly-girl Deanna in order to tell Aaron what sort of company he should keep. She seems to have tried this again by contrasting Molly and Gayle.

This was done by having Gayle wonder if she too should turn her back on the love in Connie's great big heart and become the same sort of defiant, darkness-loving monster child the panicky idiot women turn her into. The irritating thing about this is that yet again, Lynn dropped a potential source of conflict because it was easier on her nerves to watch Elly complain about her weight than to expose herself to hateful fungus people who thought that Connie was making the same mistake she always did in her relationships: coming into things with unrealistic expectations and turning into a shrieking ifreet when reality insisted on ensuing.

My guess is that when Molly went off to university, Gayle had originally intended to stay in Milborough because she'd started to build something of a life there only to run into a problem: a fatuous idiot step-mother with an overweening tendency to impose her ill-informed vision of propriety on those around her. The same woman who still doesn't want to admit that she threw her son under the bus because his being a straight gay got in the way of her hopes and dreams isn't going to admit that as soon as one obstacle to her being able to prove her love to Greg vanished, she was forced to police the other for her own good. Oh, sure, to an outsider, it looked as if a judgmental twit who didn't know what she was talking about brainlessly poisoned the well and drove yet another person away with her endless idiot demands but that would be a bad thing to think about a blameless Connie....not.

Molly Thomas, Wayward Girl.

As we know, Lynn tends to have a rather conservative vision of sex. She clearly seems to believe that it should take place within marriage and be solely for outnumbering purposes. This is why April treats Becky like a cheap tart she cannot really be friends with because, having gone roadside with Jeffo, she's unclean and thus unfit company. It's also why we had to deal with the ridiculous and appalling redemption arc in the Declining Years in which Lizardbreath had to be subjected to one ludicrous trauma after the next in order to purify herself and thus be worthy of Blandthony.

The reason that I mention this is that I just realized something horrible about Molly Thomas. Said horrible thing is that if I'm right about this, we were staring down the barrel of that idiot Connie, her dolt husband Greg and that moron Elly trying to wrap their empty brains around a teen pregnancy arc. It is something of a blessing that the same person who talked Lynn out of having John cheat on Elly with Sue The Librarian seems to have done the same thing with a new audience-alienating premise but it would explain certain things: Molly's otherwise inexplicable absence and Elly's shrieking dread of an 'unplanned' pregnancy that wasn't aimed at stabilizing a marriage.

On optional obligations.

The irritating thing about having to watch Elly at Mike's hockey practice is not that she doesn't like him doing anything that isn't a chore that makes her life easier by showing his love for her by erasing every trace he might have of an individual identity. Most comic strip housewives labour under the misapprehension that their function is to take the people in their vicinity and erode away any impulse they might have that diverts them from the life they think they have to live. You can't read a comic strip with a female protagonist that doesn't have her get her nose out of joint because some evil, conflict-causing MAN denies that there's more to life than pointless chores, random periods of unconsciousness and, as a reward for a life of dull, useless toil, the sweet release of death.

Elly's stupidly sitting in the seat she takes without even realizing that the Thought Police aren't going to show up and shoot her if she moves around or anything is visual shorthand for this mental defect she's got. Just as she only thought that the point of an Easter parade was to reassure the other parents that she could force a balking child to do what she was told, sitting until her ass is numb is yet another of the false obligations that only exist inside her empty head.

On being a lousy hockey mom

While this current arc might look as if it's the last one in which Mike's career in peewee hockey might be important, the fact is that the last big hockey arc doesn't even feature him hitting the ice. This is because his having the attribute of hockey player is used as fodder for an arc in which Elly can't say no to a call to public action because of an overweening need to impress people. Between then and now, though, there is one strip that shines a harsh light on a mother who does something she'd rather not do accidentally revealing what she really thinks of having to be there for her kids.

Said strip has Elly cheerfully tell a vaguely disappointed Michael that the reason she's looking forward to that night's game is that it's the last one of the season. Mike likes the idea of playing hockey and he'd like it if she liked it too because it would mean that she liked him too but she's not smart or nice enough a person to see this. All she can do is play that stupid zero-sum game that makes his interests an attack on her person and remind him of this every chance she can. The end result is a person who makes a lot of noise about being physically present but misses the point of being there.
As we know, John seems to be content to keep himself at arm's length from the rest of his family's concerns. He justifies this stupid, chicken-hearted habit of letting Elly do all the heavy lifting because as someone of conservative temperament, he regards it as being her function in life to ride herd over the kids while he sits on his fat ass cowering behind a newspaper or on his stupid workshed. HOW he describes this is especially telling. As one of his letters about the chaos of the Housening that could have been mitigated had he the courage and decency to step in tells us:

All I can do is withdraw mentally a bit from the whole scene, become an observer, and try not to have any feelings about the situation.

Translated from Pompous Ass to Regular Person, what he, as I've said before, meant is that he doesn't actually want to get to know the people around him because it would 'muss up' his mind by having the evidence of his senses contradict his prejudices. He's been married to Elly for forty-six years or so but my gut tells me that he still hasn't the least fucking clue who she actually is because learning would make him out to be a closed-minded doughhead who actually was the bad guy. This seems to extend to the children he never actually bothered getting to actually meet or learn about. He sends them to farms to adjust attitudes and makes sweeping generalizations about people who he doesn't know and never wanted to.

The reason that I mention this is that despite it being next to impossible to care about someone as contemptible and dim as John, simple human decency mandates that one wish that it could have been otherwise. The world around him would have been immeasurably better if he hadn't stayed the oafish cluck who was too Goddamned chickenhearted to get off his ass, risk being proven wrong and be more than a dollar sign with a pulse.

Mike Patterson: Overprotective Father.

Of course, there is a thing I overlooked last time: the very real possibility that the Mike of 2017 is probably cravenly grateful that Elly wanted to save him from Martha back when the vindictive idiot was taking her anger at being a wallflower out on a sitting duck antagonist. The same moron who blurbled witlessly about how a meaningless dalliance that wouldn't have survived past high school is a clear existential threat to his children's very existence (owing to his being the same noodlehead clod who thinks that his mother danced and sang in public with the specific intent of humiliating him) is probably right now being the same sort of punitive, panicky pinhead Elly was every time Meredith expresses interest in a boy.

Mind you, he won't actually come out and make the same fool of himself Elly might have and chanted "TOO FAST!!! TOO FAST!!!!" every time she displayed any hint that she was maturing but he wouldn't have to. He has a smug know-nothing know-it-all wife to simper about how Meredith can't know what love is yet for him. This allows him to have his cake and eat it to because he can be the good guy and the overweening nitwit at the same time.
As we all know, Lynn has the odd habit of only having certain characters interact with certain other characters. As by way of example, Connie has never said a blasted thing to Jim or Marian that I've seen and we never actually saw Elly make a fool of herself whining to Miss Edwards about how Elizabeth not making the foolish move of running to a mother who was bound to jump down her throat with every little problem felt as if her heart was being pulled out through her nose or something. While I would have loved to see Elly make the same ridiculous idiot of herself trying to confront the teacher who was cruelly trying to replace her, I would have loved to see her do something even stupider even more.

That far stupider thing would, of course, be her actually trying to frighten off the dangerous hussy who was clearly trying to derail Mike's life with her dangerous body language and so on and so forth. This is because her stupidity would blow up in her fat, moronic face. Not only would this have driven the kids closer together, she would have made an enemy of Martha's extended family, alienated Mike completely and made an even bigger fool of herself than she did when she stomped around leading a picket line. It's a good thing that Elly is only stupid enough to think that she cannot talk to people who don't make an effort to talk to her. Otherwise, Martha's exchanging mild pleasantries a dim-brained loon insisted on taking the wrong way would have led to an amusing horror show that would have totally discredited a vindictive twit.
Every so often, we are treated to a reminder that Elly is not especially good at winter sports. She is too unbalanced to skate, she can't ski very well, snowmobiles give her the galloping fantods and even watching other people enjoy winter activities gives her the willies. Elly's idea of a great winter day is sitting inside with the heat blasting feeling superior to people who stupidly go out in the frozen world of death, ice, snow and icy, snowy death that smart people would do well to avoid.

The reason for this is that Lynn seems to have been a sort of fixture of most neighbourhoods as a child. Every so often, you'd notice that when the temperature dropped down to a certain point, someone, usually a girl, was always found inside with a thousand-yard stare on her face looking at all the people enjoying a brisk winter day her messed-up metabolism turned into a frozen horror. This is why we almost always end winters at the Pattermanse with Elly complaining about how horrible it was to be housebound for five months or so.

The word game and Elly

Of course, the Experts was not the only recurring segment on the Red Green show. We also had the Adventure segment (a short black-and-white film that had the lodge members getting up to wacky hijinks outside), the North Of Forty segment in which Red talked to the camera and gave mildly jokey advice to his audience, the Buddy System sketches that had two people give husbands tips about self-preservation AND what I've been driving at all along: the Possum Lodge Word Game. The point of that segment was ostensibly to get a character to guess a word in exchange for a gag prize but turned out to be to remind us who the person was by his inability to immediately get the easy clues the person asking the question provided. A good example is that Red had to tell Dalton that his dad had eaten nothing but meat for the seventy years he'd been alive so far but how he's in hospital because he's THIS to get the man to say the word 'vegetable.'

The reason that I mention this is that I sometimes have this idea that would somehow combine Foob with the Red Green show....trying to get Elly to say the words 'happy' or 'relax'. In the first instance, Red would be saying things like "When your grandchildren come over, this makes you...", "When you think back on your life and think about all the things you've accomplished, you're....", "When you think about how well off you are, you can't help but be" only to get "anxious", "disappointed because it took so long to get what she wanted out of life" and "let down" in response only to be asked if humiliating her in front his audience makes him happy. In the second case, she would also win accidentally by saying that since the world would fall apart without her vigilance, she cannot relax.
In the earlier seasons of the program, one of the segments was something called Male Call. What would happen is that some person would write in, ask Red for advice and get gibberish that covers up the fact that Red really doesn't know much about the world around him and is sort of terrified of having to admit ignorance. This mutated into what they called The Experts portion wherein this difficulty men like Red have with the three words "I don't know" was made the explicit point of the sketch. The reason that I mention this is that it also points out which of the recurring cast of cast-offs, goofolas and third raters is the most pathetic of the lot.

You would tend to think that it's the moron forest ranger who doesn't know anything about the woods or the semi-reformed petty criminal Red seems to have made a pet of. It's actually local junk shop owner Dalton Humphries of the fly-away hair and terrible marriage made worse by his cheese-pairing stupidity and insensitivity. Dalton seems to bring out the worst in Red because they serve as an echo chamber of cluelessness about women. The Experts that I have in mind is the one in which another well-meaning but idiotic male couldn't wrap his pea brain around Empty Nest Syndrome either. Harold tried really hard to explain that since the woman's children went away, it meant that there was a big hole in their lives but Red and Dalton just weren't able to get it because of the same reason Red doesn't want to admit that he's more or less pissing his life away in that damned lodge accomplishing nothing at all. This message was reinforced when, after twenty years of its existence, he'd finally became aware of a women's group that the wife he lives off of attends after work. He and Dalton planted a listening device in the church hall in order to hear what they had to say only to find that they didn't rate as subjects of conversation owing to the fact that the never-seen Bernice Green and her peers are functionally an assemblage of widows who lost their husbands to an eyesore fishing lodge the county wants demolished yesterday.

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