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Molly's expiry date.

To continue this look at what Elly is doing wrong here, let's remind ourselves that Elly hasn't the vaguest idea of what Molly actually wants. She isn't looking for advice, she isn't looking for guidance, she isn't looking to be told that she should move on and she definitely isn't looking for a comment on how some old lady failed math. What she's looking for is for someone to agree that for reasons beyond her control, her life has been totally upset and that it sucks that it happened. Her father isn't around when she wants to have her feelings acknowledged and the woman he married is distinctly unsympathetic to her plight so she's looking for someone to vent to and she ain't getting it.

The reason, sadly, is that she lives in a world that fears and hates a moody teen-ager who wants to be told that her life isn't all sunshine and rainbows and unicorn farts. From whining ass-bucket John making that hateful and stupid comment about problem hair to that ignorant pinhead Eva Warzone checking April's expiry date, it's sort of obvious that we live in a world hostile to the idea of people getting things off their chest and getting catharsis. The idea should be that a child should bury feelings of confusion, loss and alienation to make things easier for the adults causing the problem for a very stupid reason: the child must serve as an emotional crutch to stupid old people who see their blessed lives as a bleak hell-world because other people have free will.

Well, there's that and they're stupid enough to not understand that children aren't chaos-loving monsters who want to ruin them. After all, you can't read John's arch and moronic comments about not knowing that he'd raised a princess without telling yourself "Holy Shit! This stupid sack of bastard thinks that the kid wants to laugh at her brother and his family as they freeze to death instead of wanting to be told that things will work out for her!" Someone who'd pull a chair out from under a child because he automatically assumed that she cussed out her idiot mother simply isn't capable of seeing a child any other way because he's an authoritarian muttonhead who needs his arse kicked for him.

Dial F for Futility: Elly and Molly.

As you know, Elly has severe difficulty understanding the viewpoint of the people around her. I've spent damned near ten years commenting on the fact that she gets confused and angered when having to deal with the idea that people either have experienced things she has not or have not experienced things she has. She doesn't seem to want to understand that merely because she sees time as zipping by before she can even begin to catch up, it doesn't mean that her children are trying to trick her when they see time as dragging on forever. The sort of indignant squawking about how her kids must be lying because time hasn't dragged on like slow torture since she was six or so and they know it because it also zips by far too quickly for them is indicative of what it is that keeps her from being able to communicate with other people. Since she always assumes that her immediate perspective is the only valid one and that no one is capable of experiencing anything in any sort of different way, the deluded boomer numbskull almost always makes an ass of herself when she talks to kids.

This is, of course, owing to her charming tendency to not understand the odd concepts called 'etiquette' or 'reality' when doing so gets in the way of her feeling right. A normal person would know to not take sides in a break-up (especially when it's forced) because she doesn't have all the facts at hand. St Elli, Guardian Spirit Of Being A Blundering Ass doesn't see that as being a good thing because she thinks every messed-up relationship is her own screwed-up dalliance with a succession of boys who either saw her as a clingy and pathetic joke or, due to her volatile personality and her veteran dad with a low tolerance for hippies, as a threat to their person. Since being rejected by someone is the only way she's ever been on the other side of a break-up, she assumes that this boy has cruelly dumped her.

She also assumes something manifestly not the case when she tells herself that she's doing a good thing telling her to flush this boy because she's certain that she would have wanted someone like her to come along and tell her the same thing back then. This sort of nonsense is why there is the phrase 'not even wrong.' We don't know much about her past other than maundering about tear-stained pillows when the longed-for ones wound up in the clutches of the dangerous body language squadron but we do know that she probably still resents her mother for making the same sort of dismissive cheering-up she's pulling now and we know that no girl in Molly's position is going to go "Gee! You're right! I should simply go on with my life because he isn't the be-all and end-all of existence! I apologize to everyone for having inconvenient feelings and will now join the pep squad!" because that's not how they roll. To assume otherwise because it would make life easier is to deliberately misunderstand a fundamental fact and be not even wrong.
As you know, I like to think that the real reason Elly never bothered barring the gate in the back yard is that for reasons I'm about to get into, she assumed that if she were to do so, April would yell and cry and pout forever and ever and ever. While it's true that most children's moods come and go and that April would soon forget about being able to Houdini out of the gate and find some other way to annoy her parents, it's futile to explain this to Elly because an external force had led her to believe that someone docile and suggestible like Lizzie or someone mildly bratty like April would howl and moan and pout and scream and be angry for days and days and days.

This is because said external force left Elly somewhat traumatized and destroyed her common sense owing to its outrageous behaviour. Since Elly has a little bit of PTSD, she won't really back up most punishments because she fears the return of a nightmare scenario: a child screaming his fool head off for years and taking for-Goddamned-ever to admit to himself that life isn't a plot to ruin him.

That's right. The external force I'm talking about is human garbage who thinks that verbal effluent like "And the living buried the dead" is the apex of wit. Had Mike not been such a vindictive, small-minded, short-sighted and moody cretin, Elly would have had the confidence to handle a moody child. What this means is that everyone has had it wrong for twenty one years and counting. It wasn't April's naughtiness and disobedience that killed Farley. It wasn't everyone else's being asleep at the switch that did it. No. The person ultimately responsible for the disaster was miles away hanging with Josef Weeder. Simply put, Michael killed Farley because he made Elly a worse parent than she would have otherwise been.
You want to know a funny thing? Here's a funny thing; when Connie moved to Thunder Bay two years ago, the greatest part of me wanted to take her aside and tell her to re-enroll in high school because she had no business running around in the adult world. Any sort of objective, disinterested person would behold her fixating on Ted like she was some idiot teenager crushing on someone who just wasn't in to her and realize that she ran away from home because instead of fearing something rational like the indifference and/or sympathy of her peers, she feared that everyone would laugh at her for wanting love or some such adolescent drivel.

The reason that I mention this is that she's just now turned right round and started making noise about how her step-daughter clearly isn't mature like her and doesn't know what love means so she should just turn her emotions on and off like a light switch to make life easier for a deluded flake devoid of the quantum known as self-awareness. I almost prefer Elly's still being angry at the paper-boy who told her that he had a girlfriend already so he didn't need an annoying, clueless tag-along shadowing him to Connie's repellent and flagrant hypocrisy.
As we know, Charles Schulz once made a statement to the effect that children know more than adults like to think they know but know less than they themselves believe themselves to know. This is why we have Linus getting his holidays all messed up in his head and it's why also we have Holly from Stone Soup being a pain in the ass because she thinks she's smarter than she actually is. It's also why Chinnuts and the Missus were blindsided by the fact that their poor innocent granddaughter had lost faith in the stability of marriage or some such loony old people rumbling.

What this means in plain English instead of 'old fart with a bug up his shorts' is that Lizzie knew what divorce was, feared it might happen to her family and saw it as possibly happening to her uncle if he wasn't careful. She also knows from television that despite the thunderous bleating coming from an old man who pissed himself when contemplating Rosie The Riveter owing to the mistaken belief that wartime mobilization of everything with a pulse meant the subjugation of the menfolk or some such idiot drivel. Since Jim didn't feel like living in the real world, he had to find someone to blame for what a dolt like him saw as the corruption of a minor. If you've been paying attention, you'll have figured out that said scapegoat's name has four letters in it, two syllables and is attached to someone with a low-hanging ponytail.

It makes sense given who and what Jim is that he blames Elly for the fact that when something vital comes along, Lizzie won't be totally fucking confused by something she's never conceived of or helpless to deal with the unknown and incomprehensible threat. Only by being ignorant and unable to cope with life's demands can our children be safe; so say those who benefit from reverse infallibility.

Mothers versus cool things.

I should think that by now, most people agree that the dead-tree wing of the media complex is a lot like what Tolkien was talking about when he described hobbit literature as being a symphony in the key of confirmation bias. Frodo, Bilbo, Sam, Merry and Pippin liked to read books filled with things they already knew repeated over and over. One of the biases that most of the parents who still buy the waste of newsprint is that anything a child might like is the worst possible thing for her and it's something she must be protected from at all costs.

This is, of course, because the impulse to protect children from harm often gets corrupted by the emergence of the monster called the self. It is not enough to be vigilant against threats. There must also be the cringing and remorseful admission that parents always know better because no person alive can escape that little killer called the ego. One would have to be one of Asimov's positronic robots motivated by his mythic Three Laws to escape the need to have one's ego stroked and since Elly is all too human, she has to guard her idiot children from all the bad things that they want.

The problem is that she cannot eventually avoid hearing herself ape Marge Simpson when she confidently stated that everything she didn't see the point of must be banned without any sort of leniency. At some point, her mentally editing what her children say to change brand names to 'sugar cereal' or 'junk food' and band names to 'headache music' is going to run into the brick wall of having to admit that she's turned into her mother and that, no, that isn't a good thing. It would be like having to face the fact that she can't lecture her children into erasing the stuff she's ashamed of having done when she was a kid.

Fun with real estate jargon

As we know, as I type this, John and Elly are currently living in what we call the Tiny Train House. As we also know, John pitched a fit because there were certain problems with the place despite being reassured that Stibbs had taken adequate care of it. What seems to have happened is that he didn't understand what the real estate listing meant by 'meticulously cared for'. He took it at face value when, if he knew anything at all, he would have realized that it meant that while the old man kept the floors swept and the counters cleaned, he couldn't afford to fix or replace out of date appliances, furnaces or bathroom fixtures.

The reason that I mention this is that the Pattermanse of 1987 could also be described as meticulously cared for owing to the fact that the range and oven are out of date and only someone used to cooking on a wood stove could produce edible meals. John's reluctance to spend money on that sort of thing because he buys into the media image of the impractical wife trying to spend her husband into the poorhouse is really against his best interests but he can't not get reluctant because he shares the same mental infirmity with the rest of the family: a belief that the government would not let the media lie to him.

The Endullening.

Every so often, we are forced to confront a Lynnsight in which Lynn seems to be at pains to reassure her fans that she and Elly are all but identical. Some of us are left thinking that she fears mass rejection should her people find out that she's a richish lady who had a staff for the longest time but I think the answer lies less in her fear of them and more in her tendency to underestimate them.

This is because Lynn appears to believe that for her characters to be sympathetic and beloved by a mass audience, they must be far duller people than those they are based on. We have commented on the contrast between flying dentist/community activist Rod and Trash Bag Johnny for years wondering why Lynn left all of the qualities that would make him interesting on the cutting room floor and are forced to realize that Lynn doesn't think a Janelle J could relate to someone as interesting as he is. This is also why we don't have Mike the roller derby fan or Liz the snowboarder. The children must also be dull so that they do not make the dull people leading the boring, pointless, insignificant lives who read the strip face the meaninglessness of their beige lives and kill themselves. She made Liz marry Anthony not just to justify the mess she made with Doug, she's also keeping anonymous sheeple from flyover country from shooting their brains out in despair.
Every so often, Ces Marciuliano drives home the point that since Ted Forth is a socially awkward and oblivious man-child filled with rage issues and since Sally tends to want to escape social situations where she cannot be dominant, they don't have a real friend in the world. She has a sycophant who feeds her things she wants to hear but she doesn't have an actual friend as you and I would understand the term. The reason that I mention this is that what he does deliberately, Lynn did accidentally. The proof is in the pudding as the following ingredients will show.

First off, we have to deal with the fact that Connie is less a friend and more an envious sycophant who envies everything Elly has while telling her everything she wants to hear. She laughs at Elly's jokes, she confirms Elly's inflated opinion of herself and she wishes that she could have everything Elly has.

Second, we have to remember that Elly's 'friends' threw her a baby shower because for some reason, it delighted them that while they would get to live an active, uncomplicated retirement, Elly is still dealing with a child's needs. Carol Enjo flat-out told her to her face that if someone's life had to be put on hold until it was all used up, everyone in the drainage area was glad it was the crazy woman screaming at the stupid dog.

Third, we have to remember that despite knowing that Elly simply wanted to keep her birthday to herself because she was anxious about a life that seemed to be in vain because it was lived for others, they presented her with a garish party she hated. They told her to her face that she wasn't going to get away with a private dinner with John because they needed to rub her nose in an anxiety.

The only possible conclusion to be drawn is that Elly doesn't have friends as you and I would understand the term. What she has is what Mike had growing up: a collection of jerks and oafs who hang around to watch her scream and moan because they feast upon her sorrow.

Trash Bag Johnny, Superstar.

As I've said before, one of my favourite strips had Will Patterson remind his son that when he was a teenager, he was a pain in the arse in his own right and not the grinning peppermint stick he tells his children he is. It delighted the older man that not was his aggravating fist-magnet of a son on the receiving end of puerile beefing, he couldn't handle it at all well. This is because he picked up on something that should be obvious: the John Patterson he told his family he was is a masterwork of invention.

This is because despite the fact that the real younger John made Blandthony actually look like the icon MOTHERS KNOW about in comparison, we're dealing with someone who views likes to view his past as being some sort of idealized version in which he dumped Patsy O'Connor and he wasn't some whiny jerk moaning about leaving his friends behind when his parents decided to uproot them and so on and so forth. Only under conditions of extreme stress wherein he's confronted with the unpleasant truth about himself does he begin to approach honesty about his past.

Unfortunately for the family, there are three general types of occasions in which said stress occurs:
  1. When he does something stupid like break his foot because he bought too big a turkey or when he roots around a dumpster like a raccoon and has to be reminded that he was a dumb, clumsy boy who often bit off more than he could chew. This means he's back in high school being laughed at again.
  2. When a family member proposes doing something that would minorly inconvenience him. From being a grouch about Elly working to being a dick about having to drive April to the Telethon of Tedium, it doesn't take much to unleash the goof who wanted to stay in Flin Flon even if he had to stay there by himself.
  3. When people want to spend money on something not for him and remind him that his parents weren't vending machines.

You'll notice that all of those stressors involve his family in some way or another; this is because those closest to him are potential threats because they shall surely force him to confront the fact that he was a big, stupid goof who passive-aggressived his way through life until he met a fellow mental pygmy.


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