Tags: sheet shaver

Snarky Candiru2

Elly Patterson: Dental Assistant.....

We're in for a bit of revisionist history to take us into June. We know from the book "Lives Behind the Lines" that Elly was John's assistant when he started out and she resumed that role when Jean Baker was absent for a while. It would appear, however, that Lynn is in the process of rewriting history so that Jean wasn't even there to be absent. However Lynn wants to retcon things, one thing is certain: Elly wasn't very good at it. The strips I remember show her making a complete mess of things. She could never remember a technical term for more than five seconds and was always handing John the wrong tool. She also didn't handle his angered reaction too well. Here he was, trying to stay afloat and there she was screwing things up for them and their family. I should also think her ineptitude helped sour him on the idea of her working outside the home by confirming the stereotypes he grew up with. His hiring more attractive assistants later on was an act of nastiness calculated to mess with her head as badly as he felt she messed up as an assistant. He had no intention of stepping out on her, he just wanted to see her squirm.
Snarky Candiru2

Elly and technology: the three stages of acceptance.

The strip for 27 May 2008 is an example of something I've noticed about Elly Patterson; it takes her a while to warm up to a technological advance. You can rely on her acceptance of a new way of doing things to take three steps. These are:

1) Frustration: As we've seen, Elly hasn't got all that much patience so usually greets a petty reverse with a violent and counterproductive display of flailing limbs and shouting. An example of this is her dealings with the Yap-Tel voice mail system. It takes her quite a while to get the hang of something but when she does, it stops being intrinsically evil.

2) Begrudgery: Elly's fear that a technology she's adopted will be misused by the ignorant to wreck society, frighten children and bruise fruit comes from her distrust of the Martian sitting at the computer looking up potentially-scary information. The device in question is morally neutral, only becoming evil when it's being used by evil people.

3) Obliviousness: This is when she's so familiar with a device (like her hovercar) that its misapplication would never occur to her. She sees news reports about how ginormous vehicles like that are increasingly a bad idea but ignores them because she thinks she needs all that car.

This, of course, stems from her need to think of herself as perfect. She thinks that if she admitted ignorance, people would never respect her again.
Snarky Candiru2

What's right about focusing on what went wrong.....

As we all know, the first three years of the strip were a huge downer. We had a few good moments here and there but most of the time, people stood around being pointlessly upset about things and acting needlessly jerkish to one another. It took to 1982 for the artwork to improve, the people to treat each other like people and, well, the continuity we're familiar with to get established. That being said, we still have to explain why Elly has so many negative memories of that period. The non-stop nastiness we saw in the first few years of the strip strains credibility. My guess is that Elly didn't want to remember the good times, that she wanted, for her own reasons, to focus on the things that upset her to feel big and important. You see, she doesn't feel that she's contributing to society at large so she needs to feel like her life was worthwhile. If she can make a beige suburban existence with a cloddish husband and loutish children sound like some horrid catastrophe, she's rescued herself from being irrelevant.
Snarky Candiru2

The expectations of a sheet shaver.....

It should come as no surprise that someone as vain and silly and humorless and filled with the desire to martyr herself as Elly is is so judgmental that she cannot and will not see that there are two sides to things. As a matter of fact, the idea that people believe that there could be another side to the story is one of the "unfair" things that she hates. She is completely in the right, completely victimzed and everyone else cannot be allowed to anything other than wrong. The reason she's still burning with resentment for the minor indignities of her first few years of marriage is that her family has not admitted the "truth". Her "truth", of course, has no relation to anything like objective facts. John was and is an insenstive, ignornant, lazy clod who expected her to be a stay-at-home mom because he grew up expecting to have a wife to clean for him but he is not the villain who set out to rob her of her youth and happiness that she thinks he is. He knows that she blames him and the kids for every wrinkle, grey hair and extra ounce of flab but he knows that the responsibility for that is on her shoulders. He also knows better than to remind her of that fact. She'll also neve get the expected admission that her children's emotional needs were an "unfair" burden that they selfishly inflicted on their poor, helpless martyr-mommy. The amazing thing is that she thinks she's soooooo oooooooold when thinking like that is the hallmark of an idiot teenager. She sounds like one of the huffy, wet-behind-the-ears brat kids you see on the soaps ranting about "bad" things her parents did when she has neither the facts at hand nor the experience and wisdom to judge her elders.
Snarky Candiru2

Sympathy for the Train Devil.....

We know for a fact that Elly cannot sit still, that her love of activity for its own sweet sake made her fill every single minute of her free time with chores. We also know that John, for all his insensitive jackassery, is being straightforward when he expresses confusion about her complaints about that fact. This tells me that even though he initially expected Elly to be a housewife in the mold of his mother, Carrie Patterson was not in love with work for its own sake. She managed to keep her house spotless enough to satisfy the requirements of the Gods of Hygeine and have time to pursue her own interests. What's more, she didn't spend her time moaning about having to do it because she actually liked the way her life turned out. John probably assumed for the longest time that Elly was the same way, that she was able to clean house and have time to herself. Now that he's underfoot more often and realizes that his wife is not like his mother and cannot ever rest or be happy with what she has, he's probably started to rethink some of the things she used to say. Too bad that he probably thinks that her joyless workaholism is a good thing.
Snarky Candiru2

Elly and busywork: an explanation.

Despite Elly's stated desire to prop her feet up, sit down and read and the fact that we often see her doing so, it's quite clear that's not how she usually spends her time. What she usually does is a lot of housework. What's more, it takes hours longer than she actually should spend. It would appear at first glance that she regards how long a job took as proof of how good that job is. That has a lot to do with it but it isn't the whole story. She, like Deanna, likes to make things harder than she has to so she can have an excuse to martyr herself. By taking more time, putting more work into things than is needed, people will feel sorry for her. Where she differs from Deanna is that she has no real idea what to do with the time that a labor-saving device would grant her. For all her moaning about how she was meant to be more than a housewife, she really doesn't have the vaguest idea of what that life would be. Therefore, it's safer to ignore the fact that candles exist so she can curse the darkness.
Snarky Candiru2

Help that doesn't help: Elly's real complaint.

It seems obvious that, while Connie is complaining about the people around her who did not help at all with the housework, Elly, as I've said before, has a different axe to grind. Her main concern, as we've seen so far this week, is with help that does not help her much at all. We've seen too many strips where she came into the kitchen after John did some domestic stuff and re-do them her way, to many strips wher his ofer to help was violently rebuffed, too many strips where Mike was discouraged from housework because his ideas of what needed to be done conflicted with her own not to realize that she doesn't want them butting in and doing a sub-standard job. In her mind, not doing things her way is as bad as not doing anything.
Snarky Candiru2

Owning the horses and other nonsense.....

As we've seen, the real reason Liz is going ahead with the Settlepocalypse is to avenge herself on an indifferent world. She's got a lot of pent-up rage and she wants to make sure all the people who've wronged her in the past pay and never stop because she's filled with entitlement. In this, she's very much Elly's daughter. Her overweening desire to control every aspect of her children's lives is not only because does she think that she knows best about everything, they owe her. In her mind, she was happy, young, thin and desirable when out of nowhere, she had children and she turned old, ugly, fat and miserable. Since they destroyed her life, she has to control theirs because her idea of justice mandates it. You'll notice that to think that way, she's ignoring something called 'personal responsibility'. It wasn't fate or nasty, smelly, dirty, ungrateful children who laid her low, it was the woman in the mirror. Why is she fat? She has a terrible diet and won't stick to an exercise regime. Why does she look twenty years older than she should? She won't maintain herself. Why is she unhappy? She has unrealistic expectations that can never be fulfilled. Why did her children act up? They were messed up because of her negativity and emotional neglect. Why is she stuck with a husband who won't help? Her high-handed refusal to be helped on his terms saw to that. But saying it's her fault isn't "fair". If she thought like that, she'd have to admit that her domineering, evil mother was right and she is an arrogant, ignorant and reckless know-it-all.
Snarky Candiru2

The bonfires of martyrdom

I know I've said this before but it's too good a point to not repeat. For the last twenty-eight and a half years, we have been subjected to an extended plea for sympathy from most of the female characters in the strip. Everything they say or do can be boiled down to the phrase "Behold me, the wronged, and pity me." You cannot spend too much time before you encounter some idiot who whines about how hard her lot is, how helpless she is to change it and how nobody understands or offers her sympathy or help. Let's exmaine how stupid that is. First off, they got themselves into the bad situation of their own free stupid will. Nobody forced Elly to marry John. Second, it's not a matter of the Ignoble Sufferer being trapped in a bad situation. If they wanted to, they could leave in a minute. They do not want to, though. The will to self-aggrandizement by showing how much crap they can endure keeps them fixed in place. Second, they actively refuse to be helped because they'd rather be pitied. What compounds the awfulness is that if they do not have misfortune in their lives, they'll inflate something trivial into a crisis. This trafficking in mostly undeserved sympathy has a nasty side effect; it blinds them to concerns of those in genuine need. There are people with real problems like Therese and April who get shoved aside because Liz and Elly want to be patted on the head for nothing.
Snarky Candiru2

The high price of enabling.

You notice after a while that the Pattersons don't really expect all that much of Michael. They've come to expect him to make a token effort to do things most people would without asking and no more. The odd occasions when he does act as if he's appreciative of those around him are regarded as rare miracles. "Hurray! Mike did housework without being told to. Woo-hoo! He paid back a loan! Whooty-doo, world! He picked us up at the airport!" Why is he allowed to slide on by doing as little as possible? Because he's been doing it all his life. How did he get that way? Elly let him. When firmness was called for, she started to buckle which made our 'hero' realize that if he pushed hard enough, he wouldn't have to do what other people told him to do. When you combine that with Elly's tendency to angrily declare defeat and John's will to escape from unpleasantness, it's not hard to see that they gave up on trying to change him after a while. They were reduced to shipping him out to the farm and other non-solutions to manage his asshattery because correcting it was beyond them. Simply put, the people around him are at pains to minimize the damage he does.