In my haste to demonstrate a hair-colour based link between John and Elizabeth, I neglected to mention another commonality: their inability to understand basic social conventions. As I like to remind you, Liz made a complete bungle of her dealings with Thérèse because she was too damned stupid to understand what was actually happening. In her letter for January 2005, she babbled on witlessly about how she needed to be cut some slack because she didn’t hang off of Anthony, flirt with him or intrude into their lives; what she failed to realize is that while she might have done nothing active, life is rarely that simple. The poor deluded child couldn’t seem to connect all the veiled comments Gordon, Shawna-Marie, Dawn and Candace made about how they all saw Thérèse as being Anthony’s first wife or the coincidences contrived by other people to force a confrontation with the woman’s animosity towards her. To connect the two phenomena would be like accepting that even though she wasn’t going to the wedding with the express purpose of humiliating Thérèse, she’d be perceived as doing so. The idea that other people would see her as intending something she didn’t sailed right over her head.
Trying to explain that to her is like trying to explain to her that the only reason that Mike messed with her over the years is that he knew that if he kept at it, he could get the predictable pay-off of her exploding in rage or tears or both. It never, ever occurred to her even the once that most of why she got teased is that she made it so damned easy. In her mind, her first explosion should have warned Michael off; the idea that the world simply doesn’t work that way is as unfair as the idea that what she does and what Thérèse sees are two different things entirely because she has no idea how people think and doesn’t want to clue in.
As I said yesterday, she shares this inability to connect what she’s perceived as doing with what she intends to do with John. Most of the reason why he spent the Housening thinking that April was worried over nothing is that he hasn’t the blindest idea that he’s perceived as having not had her best interests at heart. It’s all well and good to harrumph about how children should trust their parents but at the end of the day, you have to at the very least look as if you do. He failed that test and still doesn’t even see it. It’s a lot like how he spent most of the eighties making it perfectly clear that he didn’t want to deal with his children unless it amused him and the nineties wondering why they didn’t feel as if they belonged anywhere. Trying to explain to him “The reason Liz doesn’t feel as if she belongs anywhere is that you act as if you don’t want her around” is as futile as telling him “Well, John; the children simply cannot survive on their own so they don’t actually owe you anything”; just as trying to tell Liz that she looks like she strung Paul Wright along would elicit shrill cries of denial, telling John that he made himself look unapproachable and unsympathetic would cause him to growl in baffled anger.
You can see their problem, of course. Admitting that what it looks as if they’re doing is a damned sight more important than what they intend would lead to a very uncomfortable question: “What the Hell do you actually know, anyway?”