It was with no small relief that John finally managed to escape the boring little town in which his parents lived. While farming was possibly all right for his sister Beverly, he didn't see much money in it. No. To make money and keep it, you'd do what he was doing and planning on going into dentistry. The problem was that the University of Manitoba didn't quite have the reputation that U of T had. It did, however, have a generalized science program that would get his foot in the door. Granted, he'd had to consort with awful little creatures like rats and hamsters in order to get his psych degree but, hey, can't make money without one or two sacrifices, right? What he learned from dealing with rodents is that lesser life forms seemed to seek out pleasure. Typical. Without an authority to reign in the bizarre and horrifying need for chaos lesser beings shared, they were all slack morally.
Well, people and rats didn't have much in common, right? Anyways, his psych degree was just a means to an end...like say an English lit course. It was simply a way to get himself a scholarship at U of T so he could make a name for himself in the world. He enjoyed most of his post-grad work in the pre-dental program. That's because he finally seemed to have freed himself from the clutches of people who wanted him to read things that weren't manuals of some description or another. As far as he could see, libraries were filled with things people already knew (and were thus redundant) or questioned things that everyone took for granted (and should thus not have been published); the only good they provided was a quiet place for him to rest after a hard days studying.
Well, that and a hard night's partying. He'd never really had much of a social life back on the farm but his roomie Ted introduced him to a world that he didn't know much about. Or, for that matter, like. Most of the women he'd met looked available but when push came to shove, they acted like the angry women back home who kept telling him to pull a broomstick out of where broomsticks don't go. If he wanted verbal abuse, he'd talk to Ted's mother. The old bat seemed to think that he was another knuckle-dragging ape who wanted to indulge Ted's Peter Pan complex. Then again, she seemed to think that the only reason he was pals with Ted was that her son told him what he wanted to hear.
It was thus something of an irony that he'd first encountered his future wife Elly (who he thought he remembered as singing at a pub) at the library because she'd claimed that he'd fallen asleep in her chair. While somewhat cool to her at first owing to her love of boring old books and claims that the iron-clad fact that men were in charge for a reason was somehow unfair, John soon learned to rely on her. This, of course, was owing to something that he died without quite managing to figure out: his plan to look helpless had succeeded far too well. While his creepy sidekick Ted made snippy comments about buns in the oven, John and Elly got married as quickly as they did because she was the only person with what he called give in her. What that translated to is that despite putting up token verbal resistance to the withering barrage of insults he called 'kidding around', her need for 'respectability' meant that she always folded sooner or later.
This came in handy when he nipped her need to have a career wives didn't actually need in the bud. After all, why should a wife have a bachelor's degree or disrupt a home with her ambitions. If being at home was good enough for the women he knew, it should be good enough for his wife, baffling comments about feeling overwhelmed and unfulfilled be damned.
(To be fair, of course, John was not quite swift enough, not quite able enough to read people to realize that his wife enjoyed feeling awful. The idea that people loved to feel horrible was as baffling to him as his inability to understand her feeling lost and confused was to her.)
What most outside observers would have regarded as a bad starter marriage that would collapse sooner or later thereby allowing both people to get what they really needed out of life turned from a mildly sordid comedy into something of a tedious tragedy when their son Michael came into the picture. Given John's fear of chaos and hatred of the idea that he be as subjected to being questioned as everyone else, it didn't take a genius to foresee that he would inevitably mistake the boy's curiosity as to why things must be done a certain way lest the world collapse as defiance. It also didn't take much brains to realize why it was that John saw his son as an expense, not a person.
Since John insisted on doing his own taxes, he witlessly shortchanged himself because he saw tax deductions as handouts and thus a suggestion that he was incompetent to provide for his family and, since he never saw himself as being the source of his own problems, blamed the loss on the most visible means by which his money vanished. In John's mind, he was being forced to spend and spend and spend on Michael without getting anything back in return. Why was this? Surely the boy owed him all that money. His dad was no help at all on that score, though. He always said unfair and hurtful things about how he had to spend and spend and spend because he'd brought Mike into the world. Then again, he also joined everyone else in telling him to keep his mouth shut if he couldn't say anything nice.