As you know, we're about two months away from what appears to me to be Elly channeling Clark Griswold by launching in to a big, stupid and ill-considered attempt at bonding with her husband's extended family and enriching her children's lives by, you guessed it, visiting Exile Farm in the middle of December like a big, deluded idiot from the city who doesn't get what that might entail.
I'd originally thought that she was doing so to cool down a relationship that Mike is quite frankly too young for but we all know that it takes a year and a half from now for Elly to learn that Martha exists and that Mike's been in an on-and-off thing with her all that time. What's happening is pretty much her trying to make things better by being with family and maybe showing Mike and Lizzie the real meaning of Christmas: being harangued about being spoiled and lazy by arrogant and clannish hayseeds.
We start things off with this being discussed behind Michael's back because he might object to any plan to make him Suddenly Wonderful by exposing him to the beauty of an ice-cold winter in beautiful Middle Of God-Damned Nowhere, Manitoba because central heating and pipes that aren't frozen solid are a luxury that's making him bad and cruel and mother-hating. So, it would seem, is not especially liking old people who want to doze away the day so KEEP IT QUIET, being reminded that a Grunt-Burg used to be a cow, being packed in like sardines and, yes, being lectured to be smug fist-magnet farm-folk about how foolish he is for being materialistic and rebellious and the like.
What caps things off is that when someone points out the defects in Elly's logic and how the results are that Mike feels miserable (and was forced to stand out in the cold to Think About Being A Bad Guest by his graceless, thin-skinned moron hosts because he finally told that snippy, yapping annoyance Laura where she can shove the attitude she needs to lose yesterday), she gets all angry about how wonderful her ill-thought out plan is. The only thing that would have saved this is if Lynn had followed through on her plan to pack Danny and the gang down to Milboring so that nitwit Laura can get cut down to size.
The interesting thing about the real Cruikshank family is that they have three daughters. The other interesting fact is that they're much the same age as Kate and Aaron are. This is why whenever Cousin Laura appeared, she seemed to be just a little older than the Patterson child she was calling a clodhopper. What this tells us is that something entertaining is happening that the Patterson family are too dim to realize: Bev and Danny also have three daughters. For the sake of convenience, let's call them Karen, Laura and Melanie. They look similar enough that someone not especially familiar with their family would confuse them with one another and none of the three of them especially loved playing baby-sitter because their idiot uncle from the big city was too big of a girl's blouse to deal with the alleged out-of-control behaviour of his slug-like imbecile offspring.
This led the three of them to formulate a plan to prank the moron city folk; said plan involves their conceit that whatever 'Laura' stuck Foob-sitting is an only child. Since idiot Mike and clueless Liz are almost attentive as their moron parents, the gag is a viable one and since by the time the Martian showed up, Karen and the real Laura had moved elsewhere, it seemed appropriate to just let the idiots from the city go right on being ignorant. It should be noted that John was probably as big an asshole as an older brother as he is a father and husband so it's easy to see why Bev and Danny would get in on the fun. After all, there's nothing farm people love better than putting one over on city folk. The success of the Letters From Wingfield Farms series of plays is testament to that.
The odd thing about all of this talk about the band and stuff is having to remember John's useless advice about how Becky had traded FRIENDS!!! and FUN!!! for a silly day-dream that kept her from the good things in life like serving the interests of
grasping yuppie vermin who think that having to wait more than five seconds to get what they want makes them the victims of all victims surpassing all othershim and Elly. The reason that I mention this is that his sovereign cure for what he sees is his children's ingratitude and defiance is being exiled to a failing dirt farm and being lorded over by an obnoxious hippie and his smug idiot daughter.
The reason for this is not, of course, just that he and his imbecile wife have a sort of stupid fetish about farm life. If it were just that his belief that exposure to horned cattle, horses, chickens and ass-scratching hicks magically make children wonderful, it would be one thing. The problem is that we have to read his retcons and endure his getting all sentimental about the long, hard days being at the south end of a north-bound horse. Simply put, when he proposed sending the kids to Danny and Bev's farm, John was basically being a typical man and giving unwilling people a present he'd like for himself. Ah, well. At least his being the same sort of goof who'd have bought Elly a socket set if he thought he could get away with it makes him better about it than a wife who won't admit to why she's doing something.
Of course, the saddest part of all of this "Let's pack Mike off somewhere because Elly is too self-absorbed and immature to deal with him as if he's a person too" business is that Mike grew up to be an incredibly self-absorbed and damaged human being in his own right. Given that he has been systematically denied any freedom of expression and sympathy for his own viewpoints, he quickly turned into another self-pitying, self-contained idiot who cannot empathize with others or identify with their point of view.
This is why whenever his children want reassurance that Daddy actually cares about them and likes knowing that they exist and want to be with him, he screams for Deanna to keep the scary, scary little children he can't identify with away from him. Since he is unable to understand why people do what they do, he can only think that people are doing what he thinks they're doing. This leaves him with a very low tolerance for children actually being children.
When we combine this with his need to position himself as being the victim above all others, it doesn't take a genius to realize that at some point in the last five years since the Settlepocalypse, the Delicate Genius must have come to the stupid conclusion that his children need to be exposed to farm life to control their baffling need to impinge on his awareness and their disappointing lack of gratitude that he actually takes care of them. This means that obnoxious hayseed idiot Laura's obnoxious hayseed idiot daughter is currently mocking Meredith because she doesn't know a tractor from a turnip. This also means that a man named Paul Jones from Saint John, New Brunswick wants to gut-punch the Delicate Genius for having a skull filled with horseshit.
Now that I've talked as much as I care to about the Enjo family, I'd like to discuss Liz's other token Magic Minority Friendoid, Shawna Marie Verano. Much like Lawrence Poirier, she's pretty much a product of Lynn's lack of any real knowledge of Latin America; much as Sarah Palin thinks that Africa is a country, Lynn seems to think that the world South of the Rio Grande is a homogenous mass of swarthy people who speak Spanish. Trying to explain that Brazil is the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world or that the Argentina where the Veranos are supposedly from is a majority-white country (Buenos Aires, in fact, being indistinguishable from Toronto save for the language, the fact that the people dress better and who they think that certain sheep-ridden islands in the South Atlantic belong to) is the same exercise in futility that explaining to her that the Authentic Thailand never really existed save in the minds of a Hollywood script writer.
Not, of course, that it doesn't somehow fit that she's the product of Lynn's ignorance. After all, she came into Liz's life as the end result of her parents' panicky stupidity. You see, one summer, she had Dawn all to herself and one trip to Exile Farm later, Lizardbreath felt as if she was on the outside looking because "Dawn likes Shawna Marie best now." What really, really hurts about that is that John and Elly hadn't the courage or decency to do anything other than moan about how baffling it was that Liz never felt as if she belonged anywhere when it was their God-damned fault that she felt that way. It's like watching the potato-nosed harridan whine about how Liz never came to her with her problems when she and her non-stop moaning about how ungrateful she and Michael were WAS Problem Number God-Damned One.
Anyways, after their issues got resolved, Shawna Marie turned into a logic defying amalgam of Candace's being closer to the Earth and Eva Warzone's need to lecture Liz about how awful some woman she only knew by reputation was. I have no idea what possessed her and Dawn to talk smack about Thérèse or why she thinks that it's a great thing that she stuck up for that toxic little dink Anthony because she knew him; all I know is that I don't like it. I also don't like how her wedding from Hell to Brian Squiggly Line (seriously, Lynn couldn't even give the man a name) is where Liz FINALLY committed to Anthony after about ten or twelve years of false starts and missed opportunities. She might think that she witnessed magic; sane people will realize that a relationship that should have petered out and died ages ago was being kept alive by artificial means so that two selfish old people who think that their children owe them for the air they breathe can get money that they do NOT and never did have coming.
As I recently reminded you, most of this summer will be spent watching Jim and Marian babysit Michael because Elly thinks that his attitude needs adjusting. This, as we all know is because rather than actually risk talking to their children and thus losing any hope of being 'authority' figures, the Pattersons ship the 'problem' elsewhere in the hopes that it will be cure the child of 'unreasonable' defiance. The form it takes this time around is that Michael is angry because his opinion about Elly's job has been declared to be selfish and a risk to his mother's freedom and happiness; this, as we've seen, is as accurate, generous and respectful of his feelings as the presumption that April wanted Mike and his family to freeze and die so she could be selfish and have a room to herself.
As I stated earlier, Elly decided sight unseen to pack Mike off to Vancouver in the hopes that they would subject him to the same parenting she both hated and wishes to emulate. The idea seems to have been that two months of what she perceived as being arbitrary brutality because she has never wanted to admit that she behaved far worse than Mike ever did growing up would make him soooooo grateful to be home where he is safe that he'd roll over and do whatever she told him.
Sadly for her, her clever plan collided with the disappointing reality of Jim and Marian treating Mike like a human being instead of a chaos-loving monster who wanted to eat Elly's happiness. Since this meant that Mom and Dad failed Elly, she and John had to find a better set of people so that their children would finally admit that they're selfish monsters who had no legitimate right to expect to be clothed, fed and housed no matter how many indulgent and silly people told Daddy "Look here, you stupid four-eyed (expletive deleted)!! Those children are helpless so you gotta take care of them no matter how much it cramps your style." Thus, they hit on sending them to a man who made all the right noises: Danny Cruikshank, bearded road-apple, professional hayseed and all-around condescending shitbag.