One of the most irritating things about Lynn's endless shilling of Anthony is her cheery comment about how mothers know better than their own children who they should marry. This is because the strip is a sort of flypaper for insecure control freak parents who need to be right all the time. The reason that I mention this is that for Elly to be right about everything, it only stands to reason that the children are always wrong and choose badly left to their own devices. One of the most gratuitously silly episodes was six years back when Mike decided on his own to join his friends in dressing like a punk rocker for Halloween instead of wearing the cute costume Elly wanted him to wear. As we know, the real reason she got all angry is that she thought that rejecting her ideas meant rejecting her but she can't allow herself to admit to being that insecure. In order to avoid that horrible realization, she concocted an insane scenario in which Mike decided to turn his back on love and kindness and get in trouble with the police because children, well, they always choose the most catastrophic thing, don't they?
This, I should think, leads us directly to one of the most pressing reasons for her refusal to see Martha as anything other than a threat to Mike's happiness and well-being. We know that she views their relationship through the distorting prism of her first crush so assumes that eventually, Martha is going to crush his feelings. We know that she fears that they will engage in underage sex because Martha doesn't dress like a boy. We know that she sees every sign that Mike is growing up as proof that she herself is ageing before her time. What Deanna and Anthony teach us is that she thinks that she knows better than Mike does who he should date and since he decided on Martha, there must be something wrong with her somewhere because Mike cannot be allowed to think for himself because he's bad at it.
As we know, Elly likes to be communicated to in a set way: she would far and away prefer to have a letter that she can hold in her hand and squirrel away as opposed to a phone call or e-mail that she sees as evaporating away and not meaning as much. It sometimes occurs to me that there is another factor in play when condemning the newer modes of communication: they can't mean as much because the person obviously didn't spend enough time to think about what he or she wanted to say. Elly appears sometimes to appreciate the effort involved because it means that the person devoted his or her mental energy to her.
This, I think, is because she looks a damned sight like Parkinson's Law made flesh owing to an example he gave of work expanding so as to fill the time available for its completion: someone's maiden aunt spending a day of enervating toil writing a postcard to a relative. He'd contrasted that to a busy man who'd completed the same task in less than a minute so as to use the older form of the adage: it's the busiest man who has time to spare. Since it takes Elly forever to do the simplest of tasks, she assumes that anyone who writes her must also have burned away a day getting his or her thoughts together and appreciates the hard work involved. It would kill her should she ever find out that there are people who can write the big as a phone book letters she values on the fly.
The interesting thing about next month is that for some reason, we have Mike acting as if sending Martha a sappy note that made him feel super-awkward because it exposed the squishy insides of his personality is a Great Big Horrible Thing. This is because he has a mother who has a weird and unsettling need to make a fetish of written correspondence. It is one thing to save letters out of sentimental value or to create a paper trail to make life easier like most people do. It is quite another to do so for the reason Elly clearly does: to prove to herself that things happened in the first place because goldfish remember things better than she does.
This, I should think, is an artefact of Lynn's need to keep Elly's character consistent. Sadly, what is kept in stasis is a mind that's always baffled and horrified by something really easy to foresee and a voice that yells that it's cruel and unfair to expect her to anticipate the blazingly obvious. Thus the need to hoard correspondence out of desperation. If she doesn't have proof things happened, she won't know they happened because her brain is a God-damned Etch-A-Sketch.
Of course, the other odd thing about Elly's habit of jogging is that since it's a way of having time to talk to Connie without kids or husbands getting in the way, it's one of the few things that she actually appears to have stuck to. She might gasp for breath because of a lung condition she doesn't know she has thanks to Jim's valuable friend Mr Butts. She might hate getting up really early in the morning to make the time to do it. She might dismiss any sort of medical evidance about how all dieting does is mess up the metabolism as fake news. She might even treat herself to a purpose-defeating snack to tide her over afterwards but she still jogs.
The reason that this matters is that she lost her job at the library but she still jogged and complained about how she wants more of an identity than "Mom'. She lost what little affiliation she might have with the weekly paper she interned at but as long as Connie is next door, she still jogged. She made vague noise about how she would have liked to go back and get her degree but since there were computers, she couldn't. She made a mess of the bookstore by running it her own stupid way and she still jogged. Her daughter embarrassed her and failed to give poor Kortney a chance and she still jogged and whined to Connie. She had to give up pretending to run Lilliputs and she still jogged. She decided sight unseen that since April was the advanced age of sixteen, she and John had completed parenting her and she still jogged because Connie was there.
This tells me two things. The first thing is that if Connie made good on her promise to wait out the clock in Arizona after the Settlepocalypse, Elly stopped jogging and said it was Connie's fault because her lack of stamina is not her fault. The second thing is that her refusal to admit that a mother is a child's first teacher means that she can't connect her blowing crap off if it becomes a hassle to Mike's whining that since she'd made trumpet lessons a punishment, he wanted to quit at once and thus stop being miserable all the time.
One of the more irritating things about Elly is, of course, her love of pointlessly complicating her life by not especially enjoying it very much because of a very stupid idea she has about the world. It seems to me that the poor deluded woman thinks that if she's ever seen to smile or laugh or enjoy anything, people will write her off as being a stupid flake not worth the oil it'll take to fry her in Hell. She does this because she herself looks down her turnip-like snoot at people who make the best of their situation and assumes that her mental infirmity is a universal truth.
This led to a rather unsettling and baffling turn of events late in the game when she tried to develop a positive attitude only to look in the mirror and go "Poor me! I'm still fat and old and NO ONE CARES!!!!" when she imitated what she thought a happy person looked like by dancing around as if she had a live ferret in her drawers and yelling HOOP-YAH to herself like the idiot she thinks all happy people are.
Of course, my post from yesterday presupposes that Elly would even be aware of people's negative reaction to her inability to quite understand that Georgia is more than 'the girl my brother married'. Elly isn't really good at understanding what people think because she shares her creator's limitation of assuming that everyone thinks just like her, knows what she knows and is ignorant of the things she is ignorant of. Since she doesn't know Georgia's last name, who her friends are and what her family is like, everyone else knows that Georgia has no birth name, has no friends or family because Elly has never asked who this person is. This leaves us with an interesting problem: how the people who should 'know' that they don't exist because Elly has never asked if they did think about the presumptuous dullard who blithely consigned them all to oblivion.
For the sake of argument, I'll assign Georgia's family the surname "Weatherly" because I like Agent Dinozzo and her parents "Bob and Margaret" because, well, I like animated Britcoms about dull English people dying of culture shock because Toronto isn't Hounslow. If we were to look at her mother's Liography, we'd probably get something a lot like this:
It was almost something of a relief that Georgia had finally convinced her boyfriend to make an honest woman of her after years of his cold feet about a church wedding. It bothreed Margaret that Phil stalled so long given how well she and Bob got along with most of the Richards family. The only person she didn't know especially well was Phil's sister, Elly Patterson. This is because Georgia never managed to be able to arrange a sit-down with this person because, well, the woman seemed to hate to travel. It was if she were living in some sort of television programme in which everyone had to go to her house.
This illusion that she was the focal character of a domestic situation comedy seemed to be why this 'Elly' person did something that everyone else called bad form: hijacking the wedding planning because Georgia planned on holding it in the pokey little suburb the presumptuous blusterer of a dentist's wife thought of as Xanadu. It almost seemed that she was trying to force Georgia to elope because of her mother issues or some such nonsense. As if this were not bad enough, one could never seem to make it stick that Georgia wasn't some friendless orphan girl who dropped out of the sky fully formed at twenty-six years of age. Ah, well. At least she finally understood why Phil was worried about the prospect of marriage. He probably feared living the same chaotic, miserable life his idiot older sister willed on herself out of sheer imbecile negligence.
This, of course, led to a rather sad eventuality that she'd fretted about for years since Georgia's bicycle accident. After four false starts, it became obvious that she wouldn't have grandchildren to fuss over. This was sad enough without Phil thinking it for the best because his inexperience made him see a boorish, fractious drone who brainlessly pitted her children against each other as the high water mark of parenting.
If you've been paying attention, this makes of her a minor antagonist like Fiona Brass because she identifies a problem with the Foobiverse that wears its hair in an unflattering style and thinks it's overweight because it slouches forward as if it has the weight of the world on its shoulders. This is also why Molly was insolent and lived in the darkness: she hated having to deal with the dolt next door.
As I've been saying the last little while, a person doesn't have to spend a lot of time reading the strip in order to see that Elly has a personality confict with her children: they have personalities and that leads to conflict. We hit the ground running with that in the first year or so watching Elly bellow at Mike for 'arguing' with her when he didn't immediately agree with every damned thing she said. The obvious conclusion is that once again, moron Elly was too blasted stupid to remember that a four year old generally hasn't the least idea of what he's doing to irritate his mother or that he simply can't see things from her perspective. Since she's a dolt, she assumed that he was a shrunken thirty year old playing mind games with her.
Her next great act of total mental failure was, of course, forgetting that he remembered things when that was an inconvenience. According to her, she was supposed to be able to yell about how miserable he made her life and how she could have a life outside the home if he were not a selfish, cruel demanding monster who wanted to destroy her. This (as well as John's need to undermind her to stay in charge) led to his hating the idea of her working outside the home when she was supposed to be at home because she was supposed to love him and take care of him and not treat him like he's a bad kid who wants to take and take and take.
This would have been bad enough were she not to insist that to be fair to Lizzie, he could never talk about all the great things he could do because that was boasting and it would hurt the feelings of a toddler who didn't understand English and that he couldn't win at anything because that would be bad and that he had to clean and clean and clean because she's not put on this Earth to be his slave and he really, REALLY had to erase from view any sign that her house had been invaded by children. Also, there was the shared duty he and the other children had to never do anything to disgrace Mother in public by calling attention to themselves or following trends or developing scary outside interests that might make them anything other than the blandest, least interesting people in the world.
The capper to all of this is that she used to spend most of her free time whining about how baffled and angry she was that for some reason, Mike resented her great big love and her loving attempt to suppress and destroy any scary sign of individuality that might make him leave her some day and live far away and leave her all alone old and used up. It doesn't matter that his horrible yearning for his love to be returned has made of him a highly dysfunctional adult who needs her to keep him ending up in a pile of his own filth, he needs her and that's enough because, unlike someone in Calgary, he's grateful.
To explain why the teal and lavender horror that was the Settlepocalypse was passed off as a happy ending, let's remind ourselves that Elly saw herself as the long-suffering victim in a soap opera filled with people who hate her love and want her to never speak when the reality is that her life was actually a horror movie about a stupid, crazy woman who would never let herself be happy. On that note, it's sort of too bad that Hanna-Barbera wasn't given the rights to Foob. If that had happened, the opening narration would go something like this: "Stupidity! Short temper! Wounded pride! These are the ingredients Lynn Johnston chose to make the perfect angry idiot parent....but she accidentally added an extra ingredient to the concoction: insane troll logic! Thus Elly Patterson was born!! Using her ultra-stupid power to assume the very worst of her children, she's dedicated her life to fighting making life easier and happier and the forces of sweet reason!"
The reason she'd be the dumbest, meanest Powerpuff Girl ever is that most people in this world have something Lynn would prefer them to not have: the ability to tell chicken salad from chicken shit. Just as they would notice that the reason Elly is tired, panicky and frustrated after a day's inept maintenance of the home is that she's too dumb and angry to do things properly and efficiently, most people would pick right up on the fact that she brought a lot of the trouble with her kids on herself. As her need to browbeat Liz into admitting that everyone cool was a jerk trying to ruin her and everything cool was a bad thing because it scared a Mommy who hated to lose, she could never quite manage to see them as anything other than combatants to be pounded into submission because she seems to have declared war on their free will for a different reason than John. He wants to go through life without having to do anything. She wants to go through life without having to grow up and admit that her mother is right about things....or worse still, wrong about her children. Tomorrow, I'll show how that made Mike into the dimwitted pig he is.
As I've said before, Elly's habit of stupidly doing what she thinks Marian is doing comes into play when it's time to clean the house. What seems to have happened is that Marian made an honest effort to show her child how to do things properly only to be frustrated by three factors. First, her daughter is a rather tragically dim creature who misinterprets what she sees and who doesn't listen well. Second, we have to deal with the easily wounded stupid pride that convinces her that people who tell her that she's doing things wrong hate her and want her to fail. This leads to the third stupid factor: the stubborn belief that she did actually get it right after all.
This leads to her doing a slipshod travesty of what Marian actually does as a housewife. Elly does loads of clothes because she never bothered assimilating the boring and inefficient tip about separating whites, lights and darks, she makes ironing into this great big production because Marian tried telling her how not to burn herself or the clothes and this leaves her no time to tidy the house properly. It would have been instructive to have John's bad back give out in 1981 in order for him to see the marvel of angry imbecile inefficiency he'd married; the end result of noting that instead of sitting on her ass watching the place fall down around her, she spent all day being a whirling dervish of ineptitude and frustration would have led to his sudden discovery that, hey, maybe he shouldn't have welched on letting her get that degree after all. They can afford a (competent) maid to take care of the house and dock the kids with a (competent) baby sitter because it's worth the extra dough to keep the lunatic moron wife happy. And, hey, it'd sure have been easier on the kids to have a Ruth around. It would have saved them from Elly's war on their having a personality of their own.