Now as annoying as the antics of the Pattersons are, what makes them especially galling is their essential plausibility. We can pretty much conceive of the events in the strip happening in real life, can't we. There are moments in everyone's lives that don't really bear too close scrutiny, and these guys aren't different. Elly could blind herself to Jim's progress, not out of malice but a child-like faith in people with more training than insight. John could allow his obsession with trains and real insight into other people's feelings blind him to what other people need. Michael's implausible success in publishing is not wholly impossible, if you realize that a decimal point could have been misplaced OR that he's pretty much FORCED to churn out pot-boilers for the abuse-porn department of a publishing company that makes a life and living infuriating people. Liz's romantic misadventures also have the ring or truth to them 'cause we've all met people JUST LIKE HER. She and her older brother could be caught flat-footed by minor crises because they weren't really given sufficient room to screw up as kids and don't know how to cope now. A real-life Elly and John COULD be so overwhelmed by their adult children's problems, April's valid concerns would be lost in the noise. In short, Lynn is showing us a more-or-less realistic group of people, neither especially good or bad, going through a bad patch. And, as in real life, there's no satisfactory resolution in the offing but only dispiriting half-solutions with tired people muddling through the dreariness just to move on. If you want a picture of the future, look no further than the dreary figure of Anthony Caine. He represents the annoying, pathetic inevitability; a dispiriting compromise people talk themselves into calling a miracle. Instead of shrugging and admitting their daughter will end up settling for a whining, humorless dullard, John and Elly have successfully hypnotized themselves into seeing the skeevy drone as a superman. Similarly, we'll soon see that boring, half-hearted, idiotic solution to their current crowding situation: instead of letting John and Deanna argue over her not wanting to pay for land she doesn't want or need simply so he can put his vandal-magnet train set on it (all the while bleating about her 'ingratitude'), April and Elly will point out that Michael could just as easily stay where he is and THEY should move. At this point, April would probably be willing to live in a much smaller space than she was, not only to buy peace, but because it was indisputably hers. It may not be a happy or particularly satisfying ending, but then real life doesn't afford us neat little resolutions.