As we’ve seen and will see, Elly really doesn’t laugh or smile all that much. This, of course, is owing to the fact that she doesn’t see that she has all that much in her life to laugh at or take pleasure in. The fact that she has the husband her parents thought that she couldn’t manage to land (why else would they have sent her to University?), the children she thinks that she’s required by law to have and enough money and free time to be able to pursue her nebulous goals seems to mean nothing to her. Her sense of entitlement and lack of any real awareness of the world around her leave her wanting something that she can’t even begin to describe and the absence of the vague thing that she cannot name weighs on her. We must also remember that she really doesn’t have anything like a sense of humor owing to her repulsive vanity, tendency to take herself far too seriously and need to believe that everyone is out to humiliate her because they hate her and take pleasure in her pain. This, combined with a need to find fault that converts everything that impinges on her awareness as either a threat or menace, leaves her unable to laugh at anything.
What makes her life even worse than it already is is another of her more foolish beliefs. Simply put, she and John share the baffling delusion that they cannot be seen to laugh or smile in front of their children. The lapse of logic seems to be that they firmly believe that if they are seen to laugh or smile, their children will believe that they’re grinning idiots and lose all respect for them. Since they don’t want their children to not live in pants-soiling terror of their wrath, they dare not demonstrate any emotion that isn’t stern disappointment. Where their reasoning fails them is that the children end up believing that Mommy and Daddy are unreasonable idiots who are always angry and can’t take pleasure in anything.
The reason I mention this is that Kool-Aid Nation seems averse to admitting that the Pattersons are averse to smiling or laughing. When they’re not squealing about our criticizing Lynn, they go out of their way to blather about how the Pattersons are a regular family and how Elly laughs and smiles all the time but we just don’t see it. What they lose sight of it that if Lynn goes out of her way to emphasize frowning, arguments, misunderstands and discontent, that means that she tends to see them as being more important than happiness and cooperation. The notes tend to bear out her need to obsess over minor indignities and perceived slights so it’s very likely that what we see is what we get.