Of course, the most irritating thing about this "Meet the girlfriend's no-class idiot hick family" arc is not that Mike comes to the stupid conclusion that the MacRaes are unlike him and his own family. The most irritating thing is that Elly appears to have not understood what happened in the first place. She gives off the appearance of being so out of touch with reality that she probably thinks that Mike having to meet Rhetta's parents is the first time one of her kids had been asked to present himself for inspection. If I'm reading her reaction to Mike's complaining about Martha's relatives right, it almost looks as if she thought he was on an overly-chaperoned date with That Girl.
This is because Elly probably never got to the stage of having to be introduced to a boyfriend's folks because I'm convinced that Jim got in the way of her having them. Since Elly never quite managed to anticipate something she didn't herself experience, it probably had to be explained to her that the correct thing to do is have a sit-down with someone's mom and dad in order for them to get to know you. My guess is that John and Marian had to back one another up in getting her to see the light.
To continue on from last time, it's kind of obvious that while Elly might believe that she's this poor person who no one ever listens to, the truth is that her children have distinct trouble with getting her point. In four years' time, we're about to see a far more destructive example of her not quite saying what she believes she did. This is because we end up having to remember her reaction to her discovery that April learned how to jimmy open the latch to the back gate with a stick: tell her not to do anything until she asks someone. Since her children aren't especially bright that I've noticed, April clearly takes that to mean "ask anyone" instead of the "ask me" Elly wants it to mean.
This inability of Elly's to understand that, yes, her children aren't all that swift so she actually does have to tell them exactly what she wants them to do is probably why she set Liz up to fail. She might think that saying "Take care of your glasses" meant "please stow them carefully in your backpack" because she wants it to mean that but since Liz ain't an intellectual giant, she takes it to mean something silly. It's almost as silly as Elly's default belief that people 'know' what she means when she says things despite years of experience demonstrating that this is not the case.
As I type this, I do so in the knowledge that we are six years away from Elly making that stupid comment about April somehow toppling in the water as if it were something that simply happened and no one is at fault for it. While this is used as an excuse for Elly to be baffled by April's angry reaction to being immersed in water and John's mildly disgusted reaction to her panicking and begging not to be abandoned the next time they go on one of those stupid kid-hostile vacations, I'd like to point out that it reminds us of one thing we must remember: Farley's death due to stress is simply a symptom of a chronic ailment that made his life worse.
The name of said malady is something veterinarians use to describe a certain class of pet owner: "DSTO". This is, of course, short for Dog Smarter Than Owner and is used to describe the end result of a pet getting hurt or sick because his or her owner has chronic cranial rectosis. Other symptoms include them shaking their heads and whining that no matter how much they lecture him about the need to stay on the property, he goes wandering off as if he didn't listen so it's not their fault as well as sending out memos to neighbours about putting out better garbage because she's too dumb to know when a man is yanking her chain.
As you know, I once compared Elly to the mother on the legacy comic "Little Iodine" in that both women are transfixed by the need to be taken seriously by Women Who Matter so that they too may become Forces To Be Reckoned With. Much as her father took shit from his boss all the damned day long only to let the stored-up rage explode all over his clueless and incompetent idiot child, Mrs Tremblechin's craven deference to hollow snobs who, for all the good they did society, might as well have been consigned to a rendering plant to be converted to something of use to humanity turned into blind rage when her dunce of a child fucked up yet again.
The reason that I mention this is that Elly is about to march in the older, deader moron parent's stupid footsteps when she declares that unlike other, lesser mothers, she cares enough to blame a fall-guy for her own carelessness as regards how the kids speak and is loving enough to turn a positive thing like reading for pleasure into a cruel punishment her children are at pains to avoid because she has the stupid delusion that people expect things of her. Most people see her as the spoiled brat who, upon being told not to force a frightened child to be part of something that was out of her comfort zone, glared angrily at the 'monster' who wouldn't let her show that yessir, she can strong-arm her kid into doing something she hates and she should thus be taken seriously. She's also seen as the fragile moron who tosses her kids out to hang around for all hours because she has issues with focus in that she cannot. The only thing they expect of her is to not let them wander into traffic or fall into streams and she cannot even manage that so thinking that they think less of her because her kids swear means something not supported by evidence: that they think of her at all.
As you know, we're about six months away from Elly going to court to fight a traffic ticket. What happened is that while she was puffing herself up about what a big shot she was after she finally got comfortable behind the wheel of John's anti-family car, another motorist was in something of a hurry to do something stupid so thought nothing of zooming past the passenger side of a school bus and ran right into John's ride.
The reason that I mention this is that while she mentioned where Velocity Boy was and in what direction he came from, it didn't occur to her to mention how fast he was driving because she thought it was obvious that people who dressed like he did violated speed limits along with propriety at large. This ended up costing her a bit because she forgot that he knew what razors, barbers and men's wear stores were and looked like he'd come straight out of the bandbox while she was her typical dowdy, "Who cares what it looks like as long as it fits" self. He was thus able to successfully mount a "women drivers...amirite?" defense because she'd forgotten to include that detail in her stupid diagram. My guess is that since the policeman didn't read her mind, Elly still thinks that he'd left a detail she never volunteer out on purpose.
What Lynn seems to have not actually noticed in her quest to pretend that she's writing a sitcom or graphic novel or what-have-you is that in the real world, having someone wear her hair in the same style and dress much the same as she did for years at a time indicates that this person is really afraid of change. I've already told you about how she seems convinced that in the past, she wasn't anxious about the ever-advancing years and how that's a lie because as soon as she got married and became Mrs Someone, she started talking about having one foot in the grave. What I'd like to talk to you about now is how she invested her identity in a particular look despite that being irrational and silly.
I ascribe this to Elly's deep-seated need to be thought of as someone that can and should be taken seriously. Her whole entire life seems to be a quest to get everyone in sight to agree that she's the bedrock on which society rests so it's likely that her dowdy hairstyle and dowdy clothing are a reflection of her subconscious need to look like a reliable person. Wearing more stylish clothes and a more flattering haircut might tend to make her look like a forward moron instead of a sensible smart person so she's always going to feel like an idiot going to a salon to get her hair in a style that makes her look nicer. The problem is that clothes don't actually make the woman after all. A shrieking maniac bellowing about injustice is going to be a shrieking maniac no matter what she's got on so so much for her being thought of as sensible. She's just the dowdiest volatile lunatic on the block.
In about two months from now, we're about to watch Elly get on her high horse about something that's suddenly become a problem: her children using profanity where she can hear it. As we know, she blames television for this trend and turns the positive and useful pastime of reading for pleasure into another arbitrary punishment to be feared, hated and avoided. What most people fail to pick up on because they're invited to sneer at children who want a punishment-free punishment is that Elly is at pains to avoid having to hear the following cruel, mean, hateful and no good words from her horrid, out-of-control children:
"Well, gee, Mom.....if you didn't want us to use that kind of language, you shouldn't use it so much yourself!!!"
This is, as I've said before, because Elly doesn't like it much when her bad behaviour actually matters. What appears to be going on is that she's too blasted stupid to admit that setting one rule for herself and one for her kids makes them think (and rightly so, I might add)that they're being punished for being young. This just makes them want to use fouler language and eat in an even messier manner than they do now. The problem is that she'd rather not be thought of as being to blame because she hates bad attention so they get busted and they're told that something or someone who ain't her is why they're bad.
Of course, there's a reason that isn't Elizabeth telling herself "Mom will leap down my throat if I say something she doesn't like", "You can never tell what will set Mom off", "Mom wants me to enjoy her childhood", "Mom is a fine one to talk about body image issues!!" or "Mom thinks that she's the only person I could be mad at" that keep Elly from magically blaming Liz for being the cylinder that doesn't fire during the heart to heart mother and daughter talks that the two of them never have. Liz has the inconvenient habit of remembering another thing Elly is at pains to avoid admitting to doing: lying to spare her children's feelings.
This means that Liz also thought "I can't ask Mom how I look! She'll lie to my face in order to avoid an argument!!" and was right to do so. This means that by extension, anyone that Elly personally knows and likes has been press-ganged into tricking Liz into admitting that she doesn't have to fit in with the crowd despite that causing the ostracism she fears. This means that she seeks out the advice of people who make Elly feel uncomfortable because they haven't been ordered to spare her feelings.
The other reason we'd have to endure Elly screeching about the unfairness of life even if we were actually dealing with 2017 conditions is that even if she were actually to be told to stay home, she'd assume that she was good to go anyway and still end up stuck in a ditch like a fool. This is because while she's got an all-weather car, she's a some-weather driver. Almost every time she has to go out in inclement weather, something untoward happens. Either she loses traction and slides into a ditch or she ends up leaving her car outside in freezing rain because she expects her houseguests will read her mind and let her have the garage.
The problem is that one cannot tell her this about herself because she doesn't like being told what her weaknesses and flaws are and never has. What John ends up doing is ducking arguments he knows he can't win and letting her find someone else to blame for her unwillingness to learn from the past. Good thing there was a teenager under the roof up until the early part of this decade. Otherwise, Elly might have to face having to retake her drivers' test to see if she actually can still cope with roadway conditions.
As you know, I've long had the suspicion that the reason Elly is overwhelmed by her seemingly endless housework and the reason John wonders what she could be possibly doing all day is that in the words of the Engineer from Team Fortress 2, she just ain't doing it right. This is where the nasty little phrase 'moving the dirt around' comes into play because it looks to me as if she doesn't quite understand that she's doing most of her chores wrong. She might sweep porches furiously but she doesn't do much else. The reason that I mention this is that I've long suspected that the reason she does mounds of laundry every day is that just as she buys poor-quality sheets that don't last long, she never bothered learning the boring and inefficient trinity "whites, lights and darks."
What I mean by that is that I think that she's like her kids and John in that she just fires every damned thing into the machine all at once in order to save time. No amount of explaining that this could cause colours to run and no amount of imploring her to actually read the labels on the clothes to see what cycle to put them on or what temperature water to use can deflect her from ruining clothing by being a nitwit. This leads to her trying to fix her failures by failing even harder. The end result is a paranoid and angry mess who never learns from her mistakes.