Before I launch into the meat of my essay, I'd like to go on record as saying that there really isn't anything inherently wrong with a married couple with children deciding to take a vacation without them. What is inherently wrong with the way that the Patterswine do it is that they don't really hide certain beliefs too well. For starters, they don't really go a good job of reassuring their offsprings and small ones that no, they're not fleeing them because if they don't get away from the evil, chaos-loving semi-human monsters who are clearly trying to drain them of their substance because they hate the poor parents who have to sacrifice EVERYTHING and get NOTHING in return, they'll just DIE!!!!! Second, they don't hide the fact that they sincerely believe that if they are somehow forced to take children oversees, their evil, chaos-loving brood will destroy EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE because they're filled with malice and cruelty and NEVER want to see their poor, helpless parents HAPPY because the CHAOS in their brains hates the idea of a content mother.
The reason that I mentioned the fact that Mike, Liz and April were caught between the Scylla of John and Elly's fear of them and the Charybdis of their fear of being embarrassed is that I think that we'd be at the point where Mike and Liz would start contemplating child-fleeing vacations of their own. Well, at least Michael and Deanna would maintain the tradition. Liz, I should think, would bring CHAOS on herself by being foolish and reckless enough to take her children with her instead of leaving them at home to think about the horrors that they selfishly, cruelly and criminally inflict on the parents to whom they owe everything and still freeload off of despite being capable of supporting themselves.
From Michael and Deanna, we would get the same speech from the caregiver that broadly hints that Meredith and Robin are sooooooooooooooo naughty and selfish and cruel and so defiantly insistent on the horrible, vicious lie that they are anything but an extension of their parents' will that poor Mike and poor Deanna have to have time to recover from dealing with two monsters who are not at all placid children who simply don't know what, if anything, they did wrong. We can also expect Mike and Deanna to feel a vague sense of remorse coming from that terrible, no-good, stinky voice that suggests the terrible idea that they're being idiots when it comes to the way that they think of their kids. The best part is that when Mike gets there, he'll finally realize that his parents were right to deny him time in the sun when he was too selfish and chaos-loving to appreciate it. Why, if they'd done that, it would have been entirely possible that he and Lizzie and April would have selfishly touched off a war out of sheer naughtiness.
Contrast this to Liz who would not see that her and no-longer-wonderful Anthony's foolhardy insistence on surrendering all their authority to mere children is why their vacations all suck. This would lead, of course, to a leaden and stupid Aesop about how they should have followed Michael's lead and not tempted fate, faith and chaos and not stupidly done what the insane Martian did and kept expecting children to behave.
That would show Kate for not letting the same mother who had no time for her monopolize the time of the grandchild she graciously gave her. It would also show the kids for wanting to go South where people would expect Lynn to forego shopping, snacking, lounging at poolside and guzzling beer and be something she hates more than anything else ever: the mother of small children.
I guess the real problem I have with Lizthony is that it isn't the recapitulation of the Mike/Dee romance a lot of people think it is. If, for instance, Liz hadn't lived with Eric, we wouldn't have to endure Lynn's being coy about whether she'd had sex. Nor would we have had to endure the annoying sequence wherein she ignored his philandering. Instead, we could have watched as they drifted apart. Having turned Eric into Liz's Rhetta, it would have been just as easy to have Anthony talk about how his unseen love interest and he kinda just fell out because they didn't really have anything in common. The way would have been cleared for Liz and Anthony to have a long distance relationship which would have led to a tasteful wedding about four years ago. This would have had the advantage of eliminating the going after and the Mtigwaki saga. Right now, we could be comparing her kids to Mike's instead of comparing the strip to badly-written fanfiction. By trying to inject drama when it was not needed and characters who had no purpose bring there, Lynn has pretty much wrecked a once fine strip.
As I've said before, Liz has no idea what she's getting herself into walking blindly into a marriage that much like John. She wasn't really paying too close attention to what her dad was doing owing to being tormented by Michael and worrying if she would ever be loved to notice what a passive-aggressive jerk John is. It's clear, for instance, that she'll have to contend with Anthony trying to talk his way out of ogling younger women. Sooner or later, they'll be at a park or the mall, she'll be in her Mom jeans with her hair in that damned bun looking like she's thirty going on sixty and his eye will wander and he'll have to come up with an explanation. Knowing her, she'll accept the obvious lie so she can harrumph about how stupid men are so as to avoid how much like her mother she is. She'll also need, as I said, to contend with his attempts to not only actively undermine her but criticize her by means of a proxy. This, of course, will eventually get her to sit around with head in hands wondering if this is what she signed up for and this all she can contribute to the world. In short, she'll have turned into her mother. This is what Foob is all about, you see; the transformation of what was once a young woman with limitless potential to a frustrated old hen living in a suburb flapping her arms, honking her nose and playing with the hair on her chin. What a great moral.
Now that Liz finally told Warren the truth about how she perceived things, it seems to me that Lynn missed out on a chance to do a good thing. If we were watching a repeat of a "Let him down easy" speech today, this strip would be a lot more enjoyable. Seeing Liz admit that she didn't taken Warren as seriously as he took her makes me wish she had done the same thing to Paul two years ago instead of hem and haw about how she had to return to her beloved
shopping mallsfamily. If she'd said that she was in love with the sensation of being in love but not necessarily with him, she'd look a damned sight better because she'd be doing the adult thing. That would also have forestalled the dreadful "Where is he when you need him?" payoff line because her parents would know she was between love interests. They'd have to have found a different way to sell her on Anthony. We would have also avoided all the cheap theatrics that Warren's free chopper ride to Mtig inspired. He'd have still tried to screw Paul over but he wouldn't know that it was too late. We might have then seen today's strip sixteen months ago.
The over-the-top reaction Warren had to seeing Liz's engagement ring confirmed a suspicion I've long had: Liz never told him Anthony existed until she showed him the ring he picked out. Elizabeth has had for the longest time the need to not offend the people around her so she omits certain facts that might trouble them. I'd say the only reason Warren learned about Paul was that he saw him with Liz. Since the arrogant clodhopper thinks that the Breath should demurely sit there with her hands folded waiting for his random appearances and not date other men, he decided to kill Cst. Wright's game to win the dubious prize of Liz's hand. Since Liz hasn't got the guts to tell Unfrozen Cavemen Chopper Pilot she wants nothing to do with him, the greasy numbskull thinks he's still THE man in her life. It's a good thing for Anthony that he saw Warren at Mike's ego-fest last March. Otherwise, he wouldn't know that Warren exists. I'm certain he doesn't know about Paul. Why does she think that hiding facts that they need to know about her will be less damaging than candor about her past? She can't understand that sometimes being nice is a bad thing, that she has to be nasty to be kind.
As I've said before, Michael has pretty much internalized his father's chauvinistic view of the world. His father knew that the world was changing but feared it because he couldn't or, more properly, wouldn't see the advantages of the new ways of things. Most of his smug commentary about hormones was a way of trying to convince himself that his way was the right way despite the signs that he was regarded as a bullying fool who treated his wife like dirt. When you consider that only Doctor Ted was on his side, it was obvious that John was meant to be the goat. Mike's impressionable mind took his father's values and made them his own because it made his life easier. She wasn't upset with him because he was in the wrong! It was just her hormones talking. The Mike of old was clearly meant to be the bane of Elly's existence so it was obvious that Lynn had no use for men who spouted that nonsense. What irritates me no end is that she has no problem with women who say stuff like that. Elly quite clearly thought the point of going to University to prove herself a success as a woman and land a man and maybe get an education along the way. It didn't quite turn out how she'd planned because she picked a wiener instead of a winner. The anal-retentive dumbass she married didn't exactly like the idea of things changing so it took her about ten to twenty years to get him to live up to his end of the bargain. This, of course, means that Liz was brought up to believe that she had to land herself a man to feel complete as a woman. Her parents' values and her fear of being alone and unloved mean she wants to have the 'security' that marriage offers as a means of proving that her very existence is justified. Therese's rejection of the role of wife and mother just because she wanted to keep sane is something Liz can't comprehend or sympathize with because she'd rather lose her marbles than live single. That being said, she's in love with the idea of being married and having a family. The man and their children will lose their appeal in fairly short order. Like her mother before her, she'll try to get out of the lousy bargain she entered into but will have less chance of success. Since Anthony has a martyr complex that John didn't, it'll take until she catches him in bed with someone else to affect change in her life.
For all that we hold Anthony in contempt, we should at least admit that he knows how Elizabeth's mind works. He's noticed that whenever anybody gets too close to Liz, declares his intentions too openly, she pushes him away. As a matter of fact, he avoided falling victim to that by means of a pre-emptive dumping. He quickly realized that the best way to woo such a skittish person was by seeming to as passive as she is. By reiterating the mantra "We're not rushing into things", they'd be celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary when she finally realized that they were engaged. That raises the question of what she means by taking it slow. Since she's a rather passive person, I'd say that it meant she wanted to let other people force her into doing things because she's lazy. After all, she only got engaged to keep Warren at bay. I'd say that either his or Therese's return would make her decide that haste might be a good thing.
I've mentioned before that it could be that Anthony and ELizabeth will not have children together, that she'll be as fertile as her imagination. This is because Lynn seems to think that love, passion and sex only get in the way of having a good marriage. The quiet, tidy, business-like union that disturbs us is seen by the Creator as an ideal to be followed. The problem is that, sooner or later, Françoise would be curious about why she doesn't have siblings like other people. Lynn's premise that she, as an only child, would be so used to having everything her own way that she'd never contemplate having to share stems from a lack of awareness of how children's minds work. How would Anthony or Elizabeth field that question? They couldn't tell her to her face that they didn't want to have sex so they'd have to come up with a cover story that would hide their lack of passion and make her feel good. I'd say that she'd get a glurgy chunk of treacle about how they're perfect as they are, that they couldn't come up with a better child if they tried so they didn't wanna bother. This would work to counteract the effects of other children riding her about how they took one look at her and decided not to repeat that mistake for a while. The problem is that she's not stupid like the rest of them. She'd soon figure out that Mommy and Daddy were too afraid of rocking the boat to procreate. The hallways of R.P. Boire High School will eventually be filled with saracstic remarks about a lard-bottomed, potato-nosed ex-Teacher From Hell who wanted to be Supermom AND die a virgin.
It seems clear to me that Anthony was crying crocodile tears when his marriage was falling to bits around him. This is because he was far more in love with the idea of being a husband and father than the woman he married. Once he got a child to cherish out of her, she became an irrelevance to be kept at arm's length. He clearly does love Françoise. In his own awkward, mainpulative way, he loves his daughter more than he loves anyone else on Earth. That includes Elizabeth. He loves the idea of marrying into the Patterson family but can't work up much enthusiasm for the Patterson that has to be married. What he clearly wants out of life is a reasonable docile woman who will not lose her temper over real problems. Displaced aggression directed at worthless subjects is great but actual outrage at the substantive is out of the question. Fortunately, he found someone who fits that descrpition quite well: Liz. Owing to her eagerness not to die alone, she can be expected not to do anything much that would endanger her yearned-for status as Mrs. Cinnabuns. This means that she could be counted on to treat Francie the same way she did her students. To put in plain English, her carrer as a mother would be summarized by the phrase "I'd like to be a parent if that's okay with you". The Silly Sandwich Lady who bought her ice cream might be sleeping in Daddy's room from now on but her life won't change any much more than that.