I've just now realized that there's a group of ancillary characters that I neglected to cover in my study of the lesser lights of the Patterson galaxy: Steve Nichols and his children. Now that we might actually expand on the thought-bubbled aspersion Elly cast upon Annie's marriage, let's take a look at him and his children:
- Steve: We start, of course, with Steve; while he's a fairly affable sort when hanging out with his poker buddies and a reasonably attentive, if somewhat pliable, father, his silver tongue tarnishes whenever he has to talk about his feelings about Annie. It's sort of annoying to remind ourselves that a man who cries and runs for cover the second his wife tries to understand him turns around and tells his mistress that she doesn't but, well, that's the deal with idiots like him. Even now that he's physically faithful, he still doesn't seem to realize that he was the cylinder that wasn't firing.
- Christopher In the original version of history, he was the eldest of three more-or-less interchangeable tow-headed children; since Annie was inclined to let him be a child instead of hoping that he'd be "fair to Mother" and sit very quietly and stare off into space until his hateful need to ask questions faded away, Elly thought of him as being raised poorly. Since he was also the first Caucasian male that Lizzie had laid eyes on, he can be said to be a prototype of Anthony; that's because I sort of think that if Lynn hadn't dropped the Nichols from the strip, she wouldn't have had to invent the Bland One.
- Richard: The reason he's of interest is that he's walking, talking proof that Mike's presumption that if his parents had been fair and given him a little brother, they would get along and he wouldn't be in trouble all the time is a load of old cobblers. That's because the fussy little annoyance and the older scruffy little boy rarely got along very well; as any major dude could tell you, Chris acted like a bog-standard older brother and treated Rich as, at best, a hindrance.
- Leah: We never really got to know her as a person owing to the jettisoning of the Nichols family from the strip; all she was was a means of having Annie think that the minor cosmetic flaw of polydactyly was proof that she was a Bad Mother who Doomed Her Child by ingesting Evil Chemicals.
Instead of having them all leave the strip one by one as the Enjos did, Lynn dropped them all shortly after Annie stood around whining that Steve cheated because she was not glamorous enough; that way, she could avoid an open and honest assessment of her real life; that's because she doesn't want to let go of her grudges.