I can just the see the letter in Elly’s Coffee Talk
.Dear Lynn Johnston,
When I read Wednesday’s strip, it was like you had a camera in my house. I remember when I was planning my wedding and it was a month away and the stress was nearly killing me. My sister and my mother (rest her soul) had a big group hug just like Eliza, Eleanor, and Ariel did. I hated planning for my wedding. It was one of the worst times of my life. If it wasn’t for them, I never would have survived preparing for my wedding. When I think about the hugs my late mother used to give to me, it makes me want to cry all over again. Thanks for writing such a great comic strip that means so much so many.
I have known for a long time now that Lynn Johnston has a thing against big weddings. Mira Sobinski took a beating for wanting a large wedding for her daughter, Deanna; and Mother Verano took a beating for battles she had with Shawna-Marie Verano at her wedding. The only uncriticized weddings I can remember in recent years were Mike and Deanna’s wedding #1 (the real one), and oddly enough, Anthony and Thérèse Caine’s wedding.
As for me, I loved my wedding. I insisted on being a June bridegroom and I proposed on Easter, which meant that my wife and I had over a year to plan a wedding. My wife will tell you that over a year is too long. However, we found that in the Dallas area, where we got married, that even with over year to plan and with a wedding in June, the most popular places for receptions and the most highly-recommended photographers were already taken. On the other hand, wedding preparation gave me a license to do all kinds of bizarre things to inflict on my family and friends. My wife and I wrote a song for our wedding. We got friends of mine who specialized in playing original instruments from the Baroque era to play for the wedding. We gave the persons attending the wedding plenty of time to arrange for travel. In particular, my wife’s grandmother from New Jersey, who was in a wheelchair full time, came in (and it ended up being the last time my wife saw her live and in person).
The biggest part of it was that there were many occasions which allowed my wife to do things with her mother and her step-mother: The choice of bridesmaid dresses, the wedding dress, visiting different places for the reception and getting to sample their food, visiting places that did wedding cakes to sample their food, and on and on. It was a huge and grand excuse for socializing and bonding and really, just a lot of fun things with wedding showers and engagement parties and having fun showing off the engagement ring. I got to meet relatives I have never seen since and it was fun to do something involving every family member that we have at one occasion. We have never had such a gathering since.
This awful “holding each other up” is a joke Lynn Johnston has done before, most recently when she sold Lilliput’s to Moira Kinney
. When I see it, I wonder how it could be that a wedding ceremony and the planning for it are so distasteful to Lynn Johnston. I wonder why it is that Elizabeth is even going through this process, if it is such an awful and terrible thing for her and her sister and her mother. I wonder why it is that Lynn Johnston would want to make such a joyous event into such a misery for those involved.
Is this just the indication of the Pattersons in general? We make jokes about how everything happens easily for the Pattersons, with Michael’s instant best-selling book and Elizabeth’s job dropping in her lap without even an interview. This weeping and whining over the wedding planning makes it seem like what would happen if the Pattersons actually had to work at something instead of having it handed to them. Or the other aspect is the extraordinary negative attitude in the strip for the last few years, where the Pattersons can’t enjoy anything. Mike can’t have a book success without his daughter humbling him with her comments to her brother, for example. Here’s a wedding a month away, and the Patterson ladies are falling apart in their self-induced misery.
If I were to do a For Better or For Worse
wedding preparation strip, the obvious choice would be a trip to pick out bridesmaid dresses with Elly, April, Elizabeth, Deanna, Meredith and Françoise. The joke would be that Elizabeth would pick out something and declare it was a dress that everyone could wear for occasions other than a wedding, and someone would make a comment that “Only a bride could say that about that dress and believe it.” The interplay between April and Deanna as the victims of Elizabeth’s choices, and Meredith and Françoise as they sought to understand their responsibilities as flower girls and enjoyed doing “big girl” stuff is something that this strip simply does not have.
The interplay is between the same set of characters every time. Elly talks to Elizabeth and April. Elly talks to Deanna. Deanna talks to Meredith. Elizabeth talks to Françoise. When Elizabeth and Deanna had their “conversation” while Deanna redid / destroyed Grandma Marian’s old dress, it was one of the very few conversations these two women have had in the 9 years they have known each other and was in fact, the only conversation they have had without someone else present. Even on Sunday with Deanna present, Elizabeth barely spoke.
What we have this week is learning all the stuff Elizabeth and April have been doing, which we have not seen due to two weeks of Michael reprints. It’s a big giant helping of “tell, don’t show”. Or more importantly, Lynn Johnston has written herself a big, giant opportunity for story-telling, and she still continues to write this story the same old, way; with the same, old characters. What should be the epic end to 30 years of comic strip is turning out to be a whole lot of “been there, done that”.
Join us tomorrow when Lynn Johnston whips out yet another joke she has done before.