One of the more enjoyable things about the strip was when the Early Years ended; gone were all the strips that ripped off plotlines and jokes about overwhelmed housewives and near-demonic children. In their place was the story of the flawed but essentially decent family that we think about when we describe the strip we used to like. The Pattersons weren’t perfect, weren’t expected to be and that was okay. There was only one storm cloud on that rosy horizon: Connie Poirier. She, as we all know, started out as Elly’s antagonist, programmed to barge in and make Elly feel bad about the choices she made in life; she had one brief spasm of character development when she mutated into Elly’s depressed and depressingly needy sidekick. That meant instead of being a straw woman feminist, she’d barge in every so often and whine that Elly had no idea how good she had it. No matter what the thing Elly had that she didn’t immediately appreciate, Connie would bleat and howl that she wanted it and that it wasn’t fair or right that Elly didn’t love the thing she had doubts about. The enduring presence of this woman in Elly’s life can’t be explained by loyalty or the power of sisterhood; I’d say that masochism is the key to Elly’s friendship with Connie.