Elly loved the campus scene; for the first time in her life, she didn't feel as if her mother were hanging over her shoulder ready to pick apart every little thing she did or if her father were standing around running his mouth about how she needed protecting from everything. She'd even managed to make a real friend instead of the sort of approved-of lecturers she'd associated with at high school. Said friend was named Connie Poirier. An objective observer would, of course, explain their friendship as being due to their being essentially the same person. Much like Elly herself, Connie's constant need to talk about rearranging the tired old unfair patriarchal system disguised a deep need to adhere to the stifling conventions; simply put, the 'rules' were valid but since she and Elly were being inconvenienced by them at the moment, they were unfair at the time. Once the rules started working in their favour, of course, they would be fair again.
In any event, Elly found the social scene a lot easier to relate to than her actual course work. While she did fairly well in high school, university was a different matter owing to the sheer volume of material to be covered. Since she had the same poor time management skills as her snowed-under mother, she quickly found herself losing ground scholastically. Worse still, she'd had her first real, long-term exposure to computers. Computers terrified Elly no end. To her, they were scary, scary mathematics in a box; the only logical conclusion she could draw was that eventually, there'd be a war between slide-rule wielders and nasty, nasty athletes and arts majors like her would be chewed up, spat out and laughed at.
Of course, computers weren't the real cause of her continued confusion and frustration. The real source was snoring away contentedly in 'her' chair at the library. This is when she first laid her eyes on a nerdy, gangly young dentist in training named John Patterson. While shy to him at first, she quickly found herself entranced by him because he seemed like a safe (or, in English, not as inclined to back her mother at every turn) version of her father. This, sadly, was the problem. Like Jim, John was a stubborn man-child with a fear of being contradicted, a head filled with stereotypes and a need to be surrounded by cooing, servile femininity.
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that their rushing into marriage was owing to a pregnancy scare. Nothing could be further from the truth. Simply put, Elly wanted to have sex but was certain that the instant she did so out of wedlock, her parents would materialize inside John's apartment and disown her. John, on the other hand, wanted to make sure the first person he'd dated more than three times without being told to pull a broomstick out of where the sun didn't shine didn't get away. It should also be noted that at more or less the same time she'd had her bridal shower, a letter had arrived from the registrar's office telling her that her academic probation had been revoked and she was thus expelled from University.
After the first giddy rush of their first 'failed' honeymoon (they would go on to have many, many trips in the Sun in a vain effort to have a holiday that meshed with her imaginings), things had settled into a rather baffling routine. It had seemed that she had traded one carping, dismissive taskmaster for another. Where Marian defended her right to insult Elly and dismiss her wishes out of hand because she was the parent, John told her to stop being so sensitive and looked as if her going back to University once he'd gotten his practice going as if she'd advocated worshiping Satan because he wanted his house to be a home.
In the normal course of events, this starter marriage would have collapsed on its own. The problem is that roughly the same time Elly was complaining about the pointless display that was the Montreal Olympics, she'd given birth to her son Michael. While she was flattered by the attention other people gave her, the sheer hard work involved in being a parent quickly wiped the giddy smile off her face. It seemed to her that he was misbehaving on purpose because he loved chaos and hated the idea of her being happy. This, of course, was owing to her inability (or perhaps refusal is closer to the truth) to see the world through his eyes. The only real help John provided was to slap the child for whatever imagined crime she was too wiped out to do anything about; the rest of the time, he'd reacted to her complaints about feeling overwhelmed with the same bored revulsion he always had whenever someone suggested he might not actually know what he was talking about.
Michael was at the stage when he'd started to talk (back) when Elly found herself pregnant all over again. Since the apartment they lived in was cramped enough when it was just the two of them, having four people there seemed to be a nasty prospect. It was then that her old friend Connie told her that there was a house going for a song in the same suburb where John worked. Aside from some baffling and pointless complaints from Michael about being uprooted, the move went like a dream.
The nice thing about their new neighborhood was that not only was Connie around, there was a lady next door who she could drink coffee with. About the only thing that really bothered Elly aside from her goofy husband and annoying children was the dog that she got stuck with. Now, as you might have guessed, Marian didn't like to have dogs around; not only did she not like having to clean up after them, she also resented the attention her loutish father gave his old, belligerent and slobbering mongrel. This left Elly dealing with a lumbering idiot of a dog she couldn't relate to. The odd thing is that when Connie made noise about how John wanted to torpedo her hopes of getting out of the house, she was actually on to something.
John soon changed his tune about the undesirability of working mothers; that's because he had no idea where else he could get money to pay off the mortgage whose fine print he was too foolhardy to read. Fortunately for Elly, this coincided with her becoming a glorified temp at her local library. It finally seemed to her as if she were going to make a mark on society, that she wouldn't go down in history as a mute attachment to a man. It wouldn't last. It never did.