In today’s new-run of For Better or For Worse
, I think Lynn Johnston is trying to make an effort to flesh out the character of Ted McCaulay that we really only knew from his biography. Ultimately, Ted is going to end up in a romance with Connie Poirier, and like Phil Richards before him, Ted is condemned for being a man who is not serious about getting married. As Elly put it about Phil,
“He’s independent, his life is music and late nights! – He practices at 3 a.m., (and my favourite part)
He does yoga. He’s not a family man—he’ll never settle down.” Basically, it is the musician’s lifestyle which condemns Phil. Maybe the yoga.
With Dr. Ted McCaulay, his point seems to be that he doesn’t need to settle down because he already has with his mother what a man needs after the romance cools off – cooking, cleaning and laundry. Notice that Dr. Ted does not say one word about having children. If I take Ted at his word, then what he is interested in with women is the romance. He may really mean “sex” when he says, “romance”, but that’s not what he says. It works either way. We have seen enough of Elly Patterson to know that her life with John Patterson has very little romance or sex to it. Ted can take a look at John and say, “If that’s married life, I would rather be single. There’s no romance, and probably there’s no sex either.”
I can actually empathize with Ted on this point. When I was a single, young man; I liked dating. There’s a girl you think is attractive, and you would like to get to know her better. You ask her out on a date and do something fun. After it’s over if you had a good time, and if she had a good time, and you got to know her a little better; then it was a good date. You don’t have to ask her out again. You don’t have to consider marriage with her. There’s nothing wrong with that.
The difference between me and Dr. Ted McCaulay, is that he seems to have no expectation that he might come across someone that he falls in love with and realizes he wants to spend the rest of his life with her (or him). For me, this is the point where you want to go from casual dating for fun to a more serious commitment. There is not a specific time by which this has to happen. However, love is not even discussed in this strip, and we have seen by the Liz and Anthony courtship, “love” is unimportant to marriage. As I have pointed out many times, Anthony Caine never told Liz he loved her.
John Patterson’s advice to Ted is that he needs someone else in his life, as if getting a wife is something like hiring a maid or an interior decorator. The implication from the strip is that there is a certain point in a man’s life when he should realize that he is no longer young, single and good-looking and he should move out of his mother’s house and get settled down, so he has a wife who will do the cooking, cleaning and laundry for him instead of his mom. As insulting as Dr. Ted is in his regard for what women bring to a marriage, I don’t find John Patterson’s attitude to be much better.
Because Dr. Ted McCaulay does not realize that he is too old to be playing the field, the waitress at the Judgmental Café gives him the big “Loser!” designation. That’s ridiculous. What we do know about Dr. Ted, is that he has made it through medical school, is competent enough to maintain his own practice, and apparently pays his mother’s living expenses. Assuming Ted is about the same age as John Patterson at this point, then he is in his early 30s. How is he too old to be playing the field?
Here is the timeline issue for this strip. John and Elly married in university. Mike wanted to marry Deanna when they were both in university, and did get married shortly after graduation. I didn’t really even think about his until we got to the romance of Liz and Anthony. With Liz and Anthony, the implication was that Liz was supposed to get engaged to Anthony when they were in university, but Anthony got engaged to Thérèse instead. Gordon Mayes pointedly said, “I thought Anthony would be engaged to you.”
Anthony then marries Thérèse just after they graduate university. Then Liz got her second chance to marry Anthony and "Another Chance"
is the title of their romance page on the website, so I know I am not just making this up. For some reason, the timeline for getting married is just after or during university, and if you don’t do that, then you have screwed up.
Oh my God! Dr. Ted is in his 30s, and he graduated from medical school when he was 28. He should be married by now with children on the way. And when he talks about romance, he never says to John Patterson, “John. I plan to get married. I just haven’t found the right girl.” No. He says, “I’m gonna play the field.” He should be on a desperate search to find Miss Right. When Connie Poirier comes around, Dr. Ted should have just snatched her right up and put her to work doing his cooking, cleaning and laundry. But no! He doesn’t do that. What a loser!
At least, when it comes to Lynn Johnston expressing a point-of-view, she is still a complete success at getting me to think the exact opposite way from that point-of-view. I never really cared for Dr. Ted; but thanks to this strip, now I don’t think of Dr. Ted as a loser. I actually have more respect for him for not settling down with these judgmental Milborough women.