Recurring characters introduced:
- ?? Shawna-Marie Verano (possibly – an unnamed character who looks a lot like her borrows Liz’s smelly gym stuff)
- Becky “Rebeccah” McGuire, April’s first friend (no freckles at this point)
- Ben (unseen), Lawrence’s boyfriend
- Liz’s classmates Nandini, Iris, Meg and Duane (spiked hair, various piercings)
- Liz’s teachers Mr Allen (English), Mr Lucas (Math), Miss Edwards (also Math)
- Kyle McNair, who has a locker next to Liz: she says “Hoooo what a babe!!” when describing him over the phone to her classmate Nandini
- Mrs Nettlesworth, The Bentwood Rockers’ stagehand
- Jessica, Martin Bean’s girlfriend
- Matthew and Jennifer, poorly-behaved children at the restaurant where John and Elly try to have a romantic meal
- Bill Laycock, John’s chiropractor
- Paul Gauthier, the contractor who puts the addition onto the Pattermanse
- Mrs McGuire, Becky’s mother
- Mike is 16 at the start and 17 by the end; Lawrence is said to be 17 just after Valentine’s Day 1993
- Jim and Marian have been together for 43 (or 45) years; his nickname for her is “Mo”
- Liz starts junior high (Grade 7 is usually ages 12-13)
- Mike’s extra-curricular activities: hockey on Mondays, computer club on Tuesdays, a C.P.R. course at the college campus on Wednesdays, the “Y” on Fridays, and he wants to take up bowling
- Liz’s extra-curricular activities: volleyball on Mondays, choir on Tuesdays (she’s also their treasurer), skating on Thursdays, the “Y” on Fridays, and she wants to sign up for drama club on Wednesdays
- Mike’s high school basketball team’s rivals are the Knights
- April calls her siblings “Mike-O” and “Nizbeff”
- John has loved Elly for 18 years
- there’s a freeway exit to Sharon Park, the first indication of the Pattersons’ address
- Marian gave John and Elly money for Christmas, enough for them to put an addition on the house
- Gayle and Molly have left the neighbourhood: Molly is in college and Gayle moved back in with her mother
- Mike keeps a diary
Mike gets his driver’s license on his second try and asks Elly if he can take Liz out for ice cream at the mall. He gives her $1 and tells her to get lost when he spies Martha, then stalks his ex until he can make it look as if he bumped into her by accident. She hasn’t much to say to him and Mike goes home and writes about the pain and agony, then contemplates just how inspired he gets when he’s miserable and wonders if he can be both famous and happy.
Gord tells Mike it’s time to get on with his life and they go out cruising. Two months later Gord, on Martha’s orders, sets up Mike to meet her, now that Jason has dumped her and she wants to get back together. Mike feels nothing for her and later asks Elly if love is an illusion and what keeps people together if love is so easily lost; Elly replies, “Finding it again and again and again!”
Phil and Elly fly to Vancouver to help their parents sort out 40 years’ worth of stuff, arguing all the way about who will get the pump organ, just to have Jim tell them that he has donated it to the church. Jim tells Elly that Marian has looked after him for 45 years and now it’s his turn to wait on her. When they leave, Phil tells Elly that he has asked their cousins to look in on Jim and Marian, and the siblings contemplate how the roles are reversing. Elly says she’s not ready to stop being a child yet. Not long after they’ve moved into the condo, Marian starts a quilting club and Jim joins “The Bentwood Rockers” as a guitarist.
Liz and Dawn have a talk about the future and Dawn says that one day destiny will bring them together with the men they are going to marry, and the “amazing” thing is that they might already have met them. Liz asks Dawn if she will ever get married and Dawn says only after she has done everything in her whole life that she has ever wanted to do.
Liz is considered old enough to do her own clothes shopping and meets Candace and Dawn at the mall to get their opinion on everything. Miss Edwards has been transferred to the junior high school Liz and her friends are now attending. Candace thinks that the new school is “neat” because of all the guys. Liz asks Dawn, privately, why she is now hanging around with Candace so much, feeling left out because it used to be just Liz and Dawn and now it’s Liz, Dawn and Candace. Elly reminds Liz that it’s good to have more than one friend, pointing out that there’s safety in numbers. Liz tells Elly that three’s a crowd and complains to Mike, moaning about how Candace is perfect and has a perfect face and figure while Liz is shaped like a skateboard. Mike doesn’t see what the problem is because true friends should accept Liz even if she is ugly, then laughs with a sticky-outy tongue.
Liz tries her best to fit in with Candace and Dawn, but is disturbed to find that the slender Candace feels that she needs to lose ten pounds and is smoking to curb her appetite. Mike catches Liz and Dawn trying to smoke and tells them that Candace is an airhead. They choke their way through one cigarette each and swear never to do it again. Candace tells Dawn that her haircut is uncool, so Dawn gets her hair cut short and spiky, with shaved sides and back. Carol forces Dawn to go to school and Dawn blames Candace for the way she looks; Candace points out that she just made a suggestion and Dawn talked herself into it. Miss Edwards cheers her up and Elly tells Liz that Candace has too much power over Liz and Dawn, getting them to smoke and change their appearance. Liz insists that she isn’t affected by everything Candace says, but is humiliated when Candace tells her that her sweater makes her look chunky. Candace turns up at school in a see-through blouse, black bra and miniskirt, and tall boots, complaining that everyone stares at her like she’s some kind of sex object and Dawn, now in the black overalls Liz usually wears, comments that Candace looks cheap.
Mike, Gord, Brian, Lawrence and Darryl watch their high school basketball team win the first big game of the year and head for the dance, but not before Mike finds a massive zit on his nose and decides to skip the dance. Gord isn’t going either, because his father was laid off again, his family’s truck has been acting up, and Gord gave his mother his last $20 for groceries. When Mike explains that he isn’t going because of a zit, Gord puts things in perspective by pointing out that they all have their hardships. Mike’s problem is that he asked a Tracey Wells and wants Gord to take her in his place. He gives Gord $17.50 and begs him to take Tracey instead. Tracey accepts the change in plans because she was just going with Mike since neither hadn’t anyone else (read: anyone better) to go with: anyway, she is planning to look out for Martin Bean and Gord is still dreaming of Allyson Creemore. Someone gives Gord a wedgie right in front of Allyson (who is still with Pete/r Kent) and Tracey gets a horrible case of verbal diarrhoea while trying to speak to Marty (who is with Jessica). Gord and Tracey decide that they might as well dance and discover that they have feelings for each other, ending the evening with a kiss.
John is playing with April and lifts her up high above his head, pulling a muscle in his back and winding up in bed for a few days. He begins to wonder what would happen if he were permanently bedridden and if Elly would leave him for someone else: he calls it soap opera psychosis from being cooped up at home for too long. He throws his back out again just after Christmas and has to work half-days for a time. Mike takes advantage of John’s incapacity to borrow the sports car while John imagines a Billy-in-Family-Circus scenario of Mike driving the most circuitous route possible. Mike drops Liz and Dawn at the skating rink, then misses the Sharon Park exit and gets stuck on the freeway. Lost and crying, he phones Elly and she defends him when John gets angry, and they wind up arguing over how they discipline the kids.
Jim and Marian fly out for Christmas and the family gathers around the television to see Liz and her school choir taking part in a massed choir in Ottawa. When John tells Mike he can’t borrow the car for New Year’s Eve until he starts paying for gas, Jim slips him the money. Elly says that Jim has a good heart and Jim thought-bubbles that what he has is a good memory.
On Valentine’s Day Mike teases Liz about receiving a Valentine in the post and she refuses to tell him any details. It’s revealed that she simply took all the junk mail to her room and pretended that someone was interested in her. She is getting fed up with having to share her room with April and Elly reveals that she and John were already planning to put a small addition onto the house so each girl could have a room of their own.
Connie is suffering from empty-nest syndrome with both of her step-daughters gone and Lawrence rarely home, and is starting to talk about wanting grandchildren but both stepdaughters want to have careers first and Lawrence is just 17. On the spur of the moment, Connie buys a puppy, but can’t decide what to name her – “Serendipity” (“Sara” for short) is the likely choice. Mike tells Lawrence that Connie told Elly that the puppy would keep her happy until she had grandchildren and Lawrence explains that that isn’t going to happen because he’s probably never going to get married. He says it isn’t something he has decided consciously, it’s just the way he is. Mike doesn’t quite follow and asks Lawrence what he’d do if he fell in love and Lawrence replies that he has – just not with a girl. Mike doesn’t want to believe what Lawrence is telling him and tries to persuade him that he’s just confused, but Lawrence explains that his mind is crystal clear and that this wasn’t something he’d wanted to happen and he’d tried to be like everyone else. Mike panics and thinks that Lawrence might have looked at him as a lover and Lawrence explains that there’s a big difference between friends and lovers, and that right now he really needs a friend. Mike, struggling to cope, leaves to be on his own.
Lawrence finds Mike and they talk and Mike starts to understand. Lawrence says that he has known for a couple of years and that he has met someone named Ben, who plays the piano, sings and wants to be a pharmacist. He’s relieved to have someone he can talk to – he’s not out of the closet yet, but has opened the door enough to see outside. He asks Mike how he feels and Mike says that nothing will be the same, then gives him a good-natured punch in the shoulder and smiles.
Mike encourages Lawrence to tell his mother. Lawrence says that he’s afraid to and that it will be a shock to her and Mike says that it’s a lie not to tell her. Connie’s initial reaction is to scream, “Don’t be ridiculous!” She doesn’t believe him, says it’s just a phase, blames herself, then begs Greg to talk some sense into Lawrence, turning her back on her son instead of listening to what Lawrence is trying to tell her. Greg throws Lawrence out of the house, telling him to go wherever “your kind” hangs out and Lawrence stands outside shouting at the house that his name is Lawrence Poirier and he lives here. By 2 A.M. Connie can’t take it anymore and phones Elly to see if Lawrence is there. Elly wakes Mike and says that Lawrence said something which led to Greg throwing him out and now Greg feels awful and Connie is about to phone the hospitals and police. Mike thinks he knows where Lawrence is, so Elly lets him have the car while she phones Connie to let her know what has happened. Connie worries that Lawrence has been “acting…strangely. – Who knows what sort of place he’s gone…or what kind of people he’s with!”
Mike finds Lawrence at a 24-hour coffee and donut place, slumped over a table. Lawrence tells Mike that he doesn’t need someone to feel sorry for him, so Mike asks if Lawrence minds if he feels angry for him instead. Lawrence tells Mike to go home because he can’t help, but they talk until sunrise and Mike drives him home where Connie embraces him while Greg looks on awkwardly. Connie says that she’ll never understand, but will do her best to accept Lawrence’s lifestyle and his friends, and Greg says that he has been a small part of Lawrence’s life so will not judge him and as long as Lawrence is a good man and a kind man, he’ll respect him. He adds, “…as for the rest…what will be will be. Que sera sera” and Connie names the puppy Sera.
Elly loses her babysitter when Annie accepts a job as hostess at the Empire Hotel. April starts at the Little Dipper Daycare Center [sic] where she meets Becky, who is also there for her first day. They stare at each other suspiciously and then April drops her teddy and Becky hands it to her: friends!
Recurring themes / Foreshadowing / This strip conserves punchlines
Potato nose – Elly’s nose definitely grew during her pregnancy and never went back down again. This collection features the strip where she eats watermelon with great gusto, her potato nose hanging down over the fruit – a panel from this strip is used as the tab for “News Bites” on FBorFW.com.
Pattersnarfing – while eating the above-mentioned watermelon, Elly chews with a “SCHLOORP!” and a “SCHRUMPFT!” and then spits seeds in all directions with “PTOOOHHH, PAHTOOHH, PTTOOOOO, WHPPTTTTT, PATOOIE, PHTOOHH, PATOOOO, PHTT, PTOOOIE, PATOOTT, WHAPP, PTOOH, WHPT, PATOOH, FPTTOOIE, SCHLRKKK, SCHLOMP, PA-TOOH!” (That *that*, spellchecker!) Liz is shown to leave food in her locker for months, just as Mike did (they also share a habit of leaving smelly old clothing in there).
Zits – Mike’s freaks out over a big zit and hides it as best he can behind his hand, textbooks or his jacket collar, making himself more conspicuous in the process. Liz will one day conceal hers behind bangs sprayed rigid, and April gets Elly to let her stay home from school for the morning to hide hers.
Don’t bother me while I’m working – Mike is too busy paying attention to his homework to tend to April. She is trying to get his attention because she has tried to dress herself and is all tangled in her overalls, and dripping wet. Elly gets frustrated when April keeps interrupting her work to show Elly how she can jump, then isn’t watching when April hurts herself.
Let there be grace…and grace…and grace – the family, Phil and Georgia included, sit around looking bored senseless (and April falls asleep) while Jim drones on and on saying grace at Christmas dinner.
Don’t look at me! We’ve seen Elly tell her kids not to open the curtains first thing in the morning because she doesn’t want the neighbours to see her in her housecoat, only to have her run outside in said clothing to chase after the garbage truck. This collection has the same idea, but this time it’s Elly in the change room trying on a bathing suit and thinking that no self-respecting woman would be seen in it in public, then having to race through the mall after an escaping April.
Down it goes – April flushes a toy down the toilet just like Robin will one day do with Ned Tanner.
Spending – Liz buys her own clothes for school, keeping track of how much she spends and buying sensible outfits, saying that she had a very good teacher in Elly, just like April thinks that she ought to give her mother credit that she’s a more sensible shopper than Eva.
Patterstreaking – April runs naked through the house after her bath, with Jim in pursuit, but Mike gets chewed out by Elly for coming to the table without a shirt on.
Smoking – in an exact copy of when Liz will one day lecture Candace about her smoking, Mike lectures Liz about trying to smoke and is told to mind his own business, so he replies, “Sorry…I’ll try not to care.”
Packing – Liz hasn’t packed yet so Elly does it for her, complaining that her kids always leave things until the last minute. This idea is repeated almost every time one of the kids goes away.
Smackdown – John complains to his taxi driver about the miserable weather, and the driver, an Ethiopian, tells John about seeing his friends and family shot and how he is trying to make enough money to bring to Canada his wife and the child he’s never seen.
Father / Daughter relationships – Elly notices that April has John wrapped around her little finger. John thinks that Elly is too strict with April, who’s only little.
Accents are funny – the French-Canadian contractor who begins the renovations on the Pattermanse speaks like Pepé le Pew: “’Allo, Madame! I am Paul Gauthier, your contracteur…” (I’m sure I read somewhere that Paul Gauthier is a real person and a friend of Lynn’s.)
Future technophobe Elly is shown typing away on the computer (and, strangely, holding a pencil in her mouth as she does so).
Liz implies in a Sunday strip that her Math teacher is Mr Lucas, only for Miss Edwards to be named as her Math teacher during a weekday strip three days later.
When Jim and Marian move, Jim says that Marian has been looking after him for 45 years: cooking, cleaning, sewing, etc., but about 2-3 months later they celebrate their 43rd anniversary, so either he married his housekeeper or they lived together before marriage.
 For anyone wanting to read what he wrote: “How can you describe the pain of longing? It’s not an illness…and yet it consumes you, exhausts you, overwhelming both body and soul…How can mere words describe the emptiness inside, while outside, one wears the mask of acceptance? Oh, fragile mask that falls away at the sound of her name: ‘Martha’.”