Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Heart-Melters #2 - Elizabeth Patterson


Who is she?
Elizabeth Patterson is the middle child of John and Elly Patterson, and therefore one of the main characters in the epic comic strip For Better or for Worse. She was born in June of 1981, a full five years younger than her elder brother Michael. While Elizabeth was generally a nice girl, the age difference between her and her brother led to some major growing pains. She is extremely sensitive, somewhat insecure, and had a major inferiority complex. She sucked her thumb until she turned nine years old, and got glasses at the age of eight, which she took very hard. She had trouble finding new friends, and was jealous whenever she felt like she was being ignored. As a result she often felt extremely lonely. Elizabeth was not a very good student in school. She never got in trouble, but she had some trouble following instructions and hated studying. However, her seventh grade teacher, Miss Sharon Edwards, took the young Elizabeth under her wing and helped her overcome these insecurities. This special bond gave Elizabeth a new sense of direction, and strongly influenced her decision to get into teaching. After graduating from Nipissing University, Elizabeth taught for a while in the town of Mtigwaki in Northern Canada before settling back home in Ontario. Yet her love life was not quite as successful as her career. After a long high school romance with Anthony Caine, she had a series of unsuccessful relationships before going in a full circle and married Anthony to become Elizabeth Caine.

Elizabeth Patterson's Influence (July 5, 2004 - January 2005)
If Elizabeth's love life was rocky, mine was virtually non-existent between my late high school and early college years. There were no classmates that really struck my fancy between the end of 2002 and the middle of 2004, and there were only two Heart-Melters during that time period, Kiki and Mona - the two lowest ranking Heart-Melters in terms of strength. Oh, there was a slight revival of an earlier age, but that's a story for another time. At any rate, I spent most of this time period preparing to bid farewell to high school, adjusting to life at college, and updating the list of the 100 best Nintendo 64 games. There was no need for a romantic interest. Elizabeth Patterson would change all of that.

My first year at UVA eventually ended, and the summer of 2004 rolled around. My cousin was getting married in Michigan on July 4 that year, and my family and I were taking a trip up north to celebrate it. The drive to Michigan takes about 10-12 hours, and to pass the time I brought along a lot of Garfield books. And once we got to Michigan we began devouring Calvin and Hobbes. When my aunt saw us reading so many comics, she let us read her collection of her favorite comic: For Better or for Worse. I had read For Better or for Worse in the newspapers previously, but I really can't say that I was a fan. Nevertheless, when we went to Cedar Point the day after the wedding, we brought along three of the For Better or for Worse books: Starting from Scratch, Love just Screws Everything Up, and Growing Like a Weed. I read the books on the trip there, and as we entered Ohio, I found myself getting attracted to Elizabeth. For Better or for Worse is well known for the realism of its characters due to the real-time aging aspect, and I found myself getting drawn into the complexity of her character. Plus, she was very pretty. It had been a while since I felt that level of an attraction towards somebody, but it was unmistakably there.

The Age of Elizabeth Patterson
It is said that For Better or for Worse is the comic that everybody loves; they either love it, or they love to hate it. Thanks to Elizabeth Patterson, I was a part of the former group. I pretty much always had a For Better or for Worse book with me during the rest of my time at Cedar Point and during the trip to northern Michigan, and she never left my thoughts. The attraction became so strong that I was starting to feel the burning sensation that I had felt before my three previous crushes, although it passed by quickly and I didn't make much of it. My aunt saw how much I was into For Better or for Worse, and she let us borrow all of her For Better or for Worse books once we left Michigan. This allowed the Age to extend far beyond the summer. My mind couldn't leave Elizabeth back at home. I wrote about her on the NSider message boards, and I even began to title each of my posts on the board "Postcount + 1! This Post is Dedicated to the Lovely Elizabeth Patterson." I purchased a mousepad and a T-shirt from the For Better or for Worse online store. (I was wearing the shirt during a post-Gamers dinner when J Ford talked about his hatred of the strip. Apparently he's part of the latter group.) Late in the summer, I decided flipping through the books was a bit of a bother, so I decided to scan my aunt's For Better or for Worse books just so I can have some of the better Elizabeth comics at easy access. I eventually went out of control and just scanned any For Better or for Worse comic I thought was good and ended up with 543 files that took up 35.4 MB of hard drive space. The habit of acquiring pics of Heart-Melters continues. I went back to college in August and acquired a marker board for my door in my dorm. The first thing I wrote on it was "Elizabeth Patterson," which confused everybody in my hall.

Yet all good things must come to an end. I found a project during the fall semester that diverted my attention from Elizabeth Patterson: The Top 100 Nintendo 64 Games threads. I had been keeping tabs on a top 100 Nintendo 64 Games list since the spring of 2003, and that fall I concentrated all of my attention on writing about each of the games. I researched games. I scanned boxes. I captured game footage. I transferred them to pictures. When I finished the list after a series of all-nighters in January of 2005, the Age of Elizabeth Patterson had dissipated. The list is definitely one of the causes of the end of the attraction, although it is far from being the sole cause. Lynn Johnston's character design had changed dramatically over the years. By late 2004, she was doing things like emphasizing the lips of her characters, and I can't say I was a big fan of these changes. Furthermore, the Patterson family was all over the place by 2004. The story would spend a week or so with one character before hurrying off to another. The storyline felt incomplete as a result, and the characters lost much of their depth, including Elizabeth. I continued to read the strip loyally until the end, but my feelings for Elizabeth was no longer there.

Strength: 2 - All of the Heart-Melters had dominated my thoughts to some degree, but only one of them had ended up being an actual crush. Elizabeth Patterson was close to being the second, and even though the crush never materialized, my feelings for her were extremely intense.

Duration: 2 - The attraction began in the summer of 2004 and lasted all the way into the winter of 2005. It's hard to find six months to be very impressive considering the length of the #1 Heart-Melter is about six times that amount, but it's important to consider the fact that the original period of attraction for the #1 Heart-Melter only lasted for about that long.

Recurrence: 5 - This was where Elizabeth Patterson falters. My attention towards her went on the backburners when I began to focus on writing about the top 100 Nintendo 64 games, and as a result my attraction towards her became secondary as well. By January it was completely snuffed out, and I never looked back. Nevertheless, she still ranks ahead of some other powerhouses like Shiori Fujisaki and Kaho because even though all three of them remained my favorite characters in their respective source materials, I still read For Better or for Worse quite regularly.

Overall: 9 - Even though I don't have a lot of feelings for Elizabeth now, it's hard to ignore how much a force she was back in the day. Not only were my attractions towards her extremely strong, but it endured for an extraordinarily long period of time. This rare combination is enough to overcome a relatively low recurrence score, but to be honest the recurrence score isn't that bad. It's still in the top half.

Next Up: The Tomboyish Mermaid