So far, I’ve covered how Phil and Elly might react in an outing scenario. Phil would probably be holed up in a bar somewhere wondering why doing the right thing hurts so damned much because he’d either wonder why he let Elly talk him into marrying a square like Connie or why being a meat-eating straight guy made him the weirdo. I’ve also explained that Elly is the sort of person whose reaction to the discovery that a child is left-handed would be to assume that the child’s thought processes could be summed up by the statement “Hmmm…..how shall I blight the life of the mother I hate sooooooo much? I know! I shall become a left-hander!! (Diabolical laughter!!)”
Now that I’ve got them pegged as a wishy-washy imbecile who’s baffled by life’s reverses and a nutbag who believes that she’s the victim of a conspiracy consisting of everyone else in the world to destroy her brain and make her miserable, let’s speculate as to how John would make a bog of things. We can start in by looking at the strip wherein he pouts like a sulky toddler because no one wants to eat his pancakes of death at eight in the morning. Taken as an isolated incident, it looks as if the family is crapping all over the man’s generous impulses. The problem is that it cannot be taken as an isolated incident; it is, as a matter of fact, part of a wider pattern of behaviour that would tend to explain how he might react in a given situation.
First off, we have to remember that John loves to make sweeping decisions that affect the people around them without really bothering himself with a question he considers to be irrelevant. After all, he is the father and husband so when he says “Jump”, the wifey and kiddies are supposed to do so without question (lest he not have a hooooooooooome) so they’re not supposed to have opinions that conflict with his own. This, to him, displays a horrible lack of gratitude.
Next, we have to remember that John really, really hates to have to ask himself the question “Who are these people that surround me and what do they want?” Having to remember that Mike likes to sleep in or that Lizzie can’t wolf down a stack of pancakes without getting sick or even that Elly’s appetite doesn’t kick in until nine or ten would mean that he’d have to adapt to their needs and that would be just terrible. Why, that’s almost as terrible as their not being who they’re supposed to be.
Yes, I went there. I also brought something back with me. John has yet another habit of mind that would tend to make life more difficult for a child who outed him- or herself: the fool notion that a person is supposed to be a certain thing. As we’ve seen, John is constantly confused and angered that Elly doesn’t find the life of a housewife appealing like she’s supposed to. The reason he’s perturbed by this is that if people aren’t what he thinks they’re supposed to be, he might just be wrong about something and perhaps even apologize to them and that would be simply terrible. I mean, that would contradict everything his childhood taught him.
This brings us to the root of John’s being a dick to everyone around him: his need to retreat to a childhood wherein he was ‘right’ all the time and never had to ‘surrender’ to people by having to lie and say that he regretted being an antisocial little knob whose overly-indulgent mother let him run hog-wild because she got a cheap thrill out of his knavish stupidity. A grown man would realize that maybe he should have cooked a pancake brunch for ten instead of trying to force everyone to live his childhood. John is not a grown man, though. John is a spoiled brat with seniority and were someone to betray him by outing him- or herself, the results would be as ugly as everything else the greasy pile of sludge has done.