Barto enters the building to discover Ferret slouched on the stairs, wearing a cap like an acorn masquerading as the Taj Mahal. She tells Barto she'd like to see his doctor friend and admits that she's scared. Barto carries her up the stairs, and instead of getting the Tiny Tim vibe they're peddling, I'm hoping that Ferret has leprosy so she will never dance again.
The episode has become so insufferable that I'm elated to see Elispa and Mr. E again. They walk past a garish Valentine's Day display; Mr. E accuses Elispa of looking. She reaffirms her allegiance to the proletariat, insisting, "I'm not buying into it. They'll never get me." "With their hearts and teddy bears," sneers Mr. E. Elispa elaborates: "They've got us drooling like Pavlovian dogs, drooling at the thought of gifts and chocolates." Um, Elispa, I'm afraid your drooling is purely a function of your cleft palate and can't legitimately be blamed on capitalist society. Carry on. "We denounce the whole thing," says Mr. E, and here I'll come out of the dank, single-occupancy closet I've been lurking in and admit that I find Mr. E almost tolerable, if not in fact somewhat cute. A stooge-like customer emerges from the store, laden with frilly pink products. "By the grace of God," Elispa lisps, and in a blatant continuity error they start walking back in the direction they just came from.
Cue the Clarinet Noodlings of Trouble in Poor Man's Paradise. Ick wears a black satin shell-and-pants combo and picks ineffectively at her frazzled hair. The phone rings, and Ick sits on the bed and says, "Yello," then exposes her molars on discovering that it's Ill. But Ill, under Mikey's diabolical influence, asks for a "rain check" on their tentative date for that night. Mikey, fondling a basketball in the background, gives Ill a soul-brother salute, spurring him to make further stuttering equivocations to the disgruntled Ick. "Okay, well I'm just -- I'm gonna go to bed early," Ick says, and Ill says, "Okay, so I guess I'll see you tomorrow." They hang up, and Ick looks skyward, as if to implore Jah to send her some creme rinse. Acoustic whimper-rock insinuates itself into the background as both characters go to the window to stare vapidly at the street they can't seem to escape.
I'd just like to say that if the Ford Taurus were really built for the way I live, it would have a mini-bar and two litterboxes. But that's neither here nor there. Back to Ferret and that gammy leg of hers. This injury seems to bring out the worst in her lips, which she keeps inflating to maximum capacity. Ick walks up in a flower-embroidered gray sweater with satin piping around the neck. She asks Ferret what else she can do for her, and Ferret asks that she distract her by telling "every single dirty detail" of her assignation with Ill. Ick picks at Ferret's scalp, then puffs out her cheeks in exasperation until Ferret asks her what's wrong. "Well, he flaked on me last night," she says. "We're on this total high and suddenly he's got 'stuff to do.'" Ick says the words "stuff to do" with such withering disdain that she may as well have said "heroin to inject" or "funds to embezzle." Ferret drops the ball in her attempt to comfort Ick, referencing "those guys that lose interest after the chase is over, who only want you when they can't have you because you're dating someone else and then you finally get together and have this one night of amazing sex because it's so pent-up. Then you wake up the next morning and it's like . . ." Ick panics because this scenario is a little too close to home. Ferret overcompensates by insisting that Ill was planning some elaborate surprise for Valentine's Day, causing Ick to don her habitual grin of unwarranted self-satisfaction.