Friday, January 29, 2010

I am Elly, Hear Me Compliment Myself

In today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse, we have returned home from Dr. Plett’s office. Lawrence has his crutches. Lizzie is present along with John Patterson. After a long adventure like that there is nothing better than sitting back and relaxing and giving yourself a couple of compliments. So, for the 4th strip in a row, Lawrence Poirier has received no sympathy from these self-centred, self-obsessed Pattersons.

On the other hand it is very interesting the form the compliments take:

Panel 1 – Elly seems to be viewing the situation as if she were outside of it. “It’s amazing how well one can react in an emergency.” She’s looking over at Lawrence, so you might almost get the impression she was complimenting Lawrence or Michael. I would think if they were the objects of the compliment, she would say, “It’s amazing how well kids can react in an emergency. Michael ran over to get me. Lawrence didn’t give Dr. Plett any trouble during the examination, even when he leaned on his broken leg and started grabbing at his private bits.” It’s almost like Elly is trying out a compliment in front of John to see if he makes some rude remark, before she applies the compliment to herself.

Panel 2 – Turning to John now, Elly gives herself the full frontal compliment. She didn’t panic. She got him to the doctor. She did not mention the glasses, moustache guy who put Lawrence in the car; so we can add “She took credit for everything.” She kept him calm. She got Lizzie dressed for the cold before she went out. She left Farley some food. She left Lizzie behind when she went to the doctor (hopefully with someone, but who knows?). She even managed to temporarily blame herself for something, which is a tremendous achievement for Elly.

Panel 3 – John realizes that Elly’s in a good mood and feeling good about herself; so he does what any husband would do in that situation – he compliments his wife while taking off his clothes. Have to take advantage of the moment, you know. She might go back to being Mrs. Negativity at any minute. Of course, I don’t think it helps that John’s compliment is kind of backhanded. “You still haven’t gone to pieces” as if he anticipates that happening any second and he wants to get his loving before Elly falls apart.

Panel 4 – Oops! John's compliment backfired. Elly remembers she hasn’t called Connie yet. No sex for you t-shirt man! Of course, judging from the next strip in the originally published sequence, when Elly does finally tell Connie, it appears she has changed shirts again. Maybe John did get lucky after all! Or maybe Elly has an obsession with changing her shirt.

4 Comments:

Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said...

As you said on the Foobiverse, it seems that Elly's need to be told that she isn't woefully inept goes way back. Maybe that's why she thinks Phil 'won' all the time when they were kids; they complimented him for real achievements while she got a face full of 'Well, Honey, at least you tried; sure, you failed miserably but you didn't give up as quickly as we thought you would have."

9:27 PM  
Blogger forworse said...

I love the fact that Elly keeps taking time out to change her shirts. I'm imagining off-panel events where Elly is standing in front of her wardrobe, wondering whether a green turtleneck will manage to convey sympathy, guilt and concern, but not make her look fat in the process.

10:55 PM  
Blogger howard said...

DreadedCandiru2,

Maybe that's why she thinks Phil 'won' all the time when they were kids; they complimented him for real achievements while she got a face full of 'Well, Honey, at least you tried; sure, you failed miserably but you didn't give up as quickly as we thought you would have."

Possibly so. We didn’t see a whole lot of strips featuring Grandma Marian or Grandpa Jim disapproving of Elly. There was the one where Marian wished Elly had finished her degree before she got married, but that was a criticism Elly seemed to continually have of herself throughout the years. Latter day Grandpa Jim was constantly portrayed as being critical, but it was of the world and the state of society and not the Patterson family. His viewpoint, more often than not, appeared to reflect Lynn’s own perspective.

5:14 AM  
Blogger howard said...

forworse,

I'm imagining off-panel events where Elly is standing in front of her wardrobe, wondering whether a green turtleneck will manage to convey sympathy, guilt and concern, but not make her look fat in the process.

After last Sunday’s strip, where Elly struggled mightily to get on a pair of pants, I imagine the clothes changing has more to do with the ripping and tearing of her current clothes as the stress of containing her body becomes too much for it. I can see, “Oh Lawrence. I could drive you to the doctor, but running down the street to you I tore my shirt and ripped my pants. Give me a minute to change my clothes. OK. More than a few minutes. It takes awhile for me to get clothes on.”

5:15 AM  

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