Monday, June 08, 2009

Can’t Read…Bills

Lynn Johnston can’t seem to decide if Elly Patterson is competent paying the bills, has money given to her by her husband like a child or, as in today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse, incompetent paying the bills. As usual, when it comes to Lynn Johnston and money, I am reminded of the part of her interview with the Peterborough Examiner months ago. My favourite part:

When it came to finances, for example, she had entrusted everything to her husband and was shocked to discover, in the days following his departure, that her bank accounts were empty. Suddenly, the cartoonist whose strip appears in more than 2000 newspapers around the world, the Gemini Award winner and Pulitzer Prize nominee, and the first female to ever win the prestigious Reuben Award from the U. S.-based National Cartoonists Society, didn't have enough cash to buy groceries.

"I'd been like a little kid, like a five year-old. Tell me how much I can spend this week, Dad," she sings in a little-girl voice, before shifting to a serious tone. "If I was not astute as a businessperson before, I suddenly had this overwhelming education within a month in which I had to learn how to do everything. It's empowering actually because you suddenly realize there's all this stuff you should have been doing all along."

If this is accurate, then we could well be seeing in these reprint strips the real-life example of why Lynn Johnston needed to entrust the family finances to her husband. She could pay the bills, but she couldn’t (or wouldn’t try to) understand the bill itself. This may have eventually moved her to a situation where her husband paid the bills and gave her money to pay for the things she needed.

That’s a somewhat condescending attitude for her husband to take, and it is easy to cast aspersions on him for treating his wife like a child. Nevertheless, if your spouse says to you that they are not responsible for reading the bill where it says, “Do Not Pay,” then you have come to the unpleasant discovery that when it comes to money, your spouse demands to be treated like a child. Unless Elly is speaking facetiously to John, that’s the essence of the humour of today’s reprint. Looking at the final panel carefully, I don’t see a sly wink or a grin that tells a different story. It looks like Elly is serious when she says it, and it looks like John is shocked she is saying it.

I would like to think Lynn Johnston is playing Elly as a buffoon, as she often seems to do. However, from time-to-time we get a hint that Lynn doesn’t think of Elly that way. The Peterborough Examiner article seems to tell me that this is a true reflection of real-life Lynn Johnston. So, 28 years later, when she gets divorced, it never occurred to her that when her husband became her ex-husband, he would stop doling out her weekly allowance. There is as good a reason as any not to give in to your spouse’s demand to be treated like a child. John Patterson’s 4th panel response should be, “Elly. You’ve got to be kidding. Reading is fund…amental.”


Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said...

It's things like this that make me nervous; after all, we have a woman of dubious mental stability and the need to have someone tell her what to do with access to large sums of money. She can't count on being lucky enough to find another Rod so we're left to fear that she'll be exploited by a gold-digger and really be penniless. Nobody wants that to happen.

10:21 PM  
Blogger howard said...

That's true. I am surprised someone has not already attempted it, considering how widely Lynn has publicized her divorce. Of course someone may already have, and Lynn's friends may have closed ranks around her in defence. I think it may also help that her business is such that she wouldn't leave her home very often. It would be hard for a gold-digger to get the opportunity. Of course, this is pure speculation on my part.

3:44 AM  
Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said...

It's a good thing for her that she has such good friends; in her position, she kinda needs them. It's also good for her that she is sort of isolated; it's better to live in a fantasy bubble than have to worry about making ends meet.

4:11 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home