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The Teenage Guide to Popularity

Lip is grossed out by the arrangement, but at least it's better than having Frank home and it's closer than Toronto, so the girls won't flip out. Sheila loves Lip and as usual tries to feed him culture shock food (this time it's chicken Kiev, which sounds delightful right now) but he just wants to get the heck out of there because Frank + Sheila = Horror, and Karen's life is already hard. Frank's in his element, calling out for new potatoes and services and grilling Lip about his intentions toward Karen, and if you've ever been offended by a Boomer parent pretending to parent when the mood strikes, you understand the thunderstorm going on in Lip's brain when he's like "Are you fucking serious right now?" but it has no effect, because of course Frank is serious: Being the dress-up doll for Sheila's 99 problems is his job now.

Ian kisses Kash goodnight sweetly and scarily, in the alley, and then is immediately attacked by the many needs of Mandy Milkovich, who takes his arm and steers him home so they can drink beers and watch some kind of demolition derby white-trash show and she can commit seductions on him. She kicks the shit out of Carl, which was funny, so he takes off -- "Have fun getting herpes!" -- and then before you know it they're alone and she's right up on his dick and his voice is squeaking and he goes from being not in charge of the situation to being entirely underwater in the situation.

As I often tell my baby sisters, sometimes slutty is good because boys are dumb. And we live in a culture that says that, as objects of desire, our own desires do not signify. (Also, this is and will always be all cultures, because of how sex works, so you're going to have to think yourself outside the box.) But boys don't have to ever do that, so sex becomes a favor you're doing boys, and that's honestly what they think is going on. Gratitude, like Hot Cop Tony, and the desire to earn more fucking; the princess is always in another castle.

Which there are a lot of benefits to that, but on the other hand it means you're never actually having sex, because you're doing them this favor. Handjobs and fingerbanging have always been one of the Five Love Languages, but once sex becomes only a transaction -- if you're having sex for these other things and not solely for yourself because it's awesome -- you've lost track of things entirely and you are just getting fucked, and that's what a slut is. And you, and sex, are both way better than that.

So while that's playing out inside, Fiona and Tony are giggling outside, at their date's conclusion, and he finally gets it together enough to ask about Steve. She will never answer a direct question, but especially not about that, so she changes the subject to how much the little kids love Tony and his sirens and his movie star good looks and total cuteness, but Tony's not having it, and he asks again.

And what he is never going to get is that instead of telling him about Steve, what she's saying is that Tony has worth: Little kids love him, and little kids are at least 85% of her life, and so if she's going to let him in it's going to be because of what he represents, which is unconditional love and straight-and-narrow good boy activities, and please do not bring Steve into that conversation because he is also unconditionally loving but also a bad boy, and thus will always win, and this whole thing with Tony is just a bluff, but only if you make me say it out loud. Because when you put them both on the table, the choice is very stark and does not reflect well on Fiona, because she's essentially saying she doesn't really desire Tony because she is not good enough for Tony, which is all the way on the other side of the map from what's actually going on.

Luckily, Mandy comes speeding out of there with her raccoon eyes bleeding mascara, screeching and that, so Fiona and her weird accent in this episode don't have to continue with the acrobatics, and then she screams some pretty awesome things, running into her house: "Why is Mandy Milkovich crying? Who did what to Mandy Milkovich?"

Lip and Karen are lying under the El, watching it go by like stars, and it's very romantic. Lip asks why Sheila can't leave the house, and to her credit Karen's like, "Um, you want to talk about fucked up parents?" There is a hickey on her neck and it is not from Lip, but they have that whole deal figured out; he asks what it's like to have Frank in the house and the answer is: Weird. "It's only gonna get weirder," he says, and the trains go over, and they both scream until they black out, and it's so romantic.

Veronica is doing that thing to an old person that they did to Michelle Pfeiffer's breasts that time at the convent, supposed to clear toxins from her lungs or dark humors from her gall bladder or whatever, and Kev calls to yell at her about, guess what, loaning their shit to the Gallaghers. (But if she didn't do these things, what the fuck would they talk about?) This time it's the toaster, because Carl effed up the Gallagher one by melting action figures together. Kev yells and whatever, he's irritating, and then the old ladies Veronica is dealing with start talking about farts and colostomies and just like that we're back at the Gallaghers', because no sir.

Long, luxurious scene of Gallagher tumult, with the whirling cameras and splitting poor people duties, and for some reason it is very cold in the house, and Carl's carrying around a baseball bat ("The bat is for killing, not for taking to school. I don't need any more notes from your teacher") and Steve shows up looking for Ian. "Befriend the brother to Um, duh. But also "I am addicted to your family because I am a cold and lonely grifter with the heart of a knight errant and the bone structure of a porno twink."

Kev runs in yelling about the dumb toaster and Carl's melting guys in there already and then the florist drops off a lovely bouquet which Fiona assumes came from Steve but in fact are from Tony ("Fiona, thanks for a night I'll never forget") which Kev thinks is hysterical. Meanwhile Deb's stealing wifi from a neighbor ("Thank you, Beaver327!") and Fiona's figuring out that the gas is completely cut off, and when Steve explains he's only there to give Ian some sports tickets he won in a bet Kev says he should go with the Oilers because the Flyers are "a bunch of fags," which of course doesn't faze Ian but gets Lip's hackles right up, because he is wonderful.

Kev laughs about the Tony thing, which Fiona hates because Steve's standing right there, so she gives the spiel about how they had a nice time and he's really sweet and has an honest job, and Kev makes fun of that too, and Steve's just concerned that maybe Fiona is taking this thing with them so far that she actually fucked him, which she did, but now he has all the ingredients to a recipe that, when fully baked, means Fiona is totally in love with Steve. I don't think any of them know that at this point. Except maybe Fiona, which means the opposite.

Sheila gets all dressed up in one of her typical Tippi Hedren car-coat/pedal-pusher "50 Ft. Queenie" outfits and Karen kicks Frank under the table before he can remind her that she has serious mental problems and will not, in fact, be heading to the store. "I have a feeling that today's going to be the day, Mom," Karen says, and they pretend that's true. Frank tries to roll with it, adding more items to her shopping list, and then Sheila walks herself to the front door.

"Okay. So. I'm off. Okay. Just one foot in front of the other. And I will open the door. Open the door. And I take a step out..."

Sheila smiles to herself in the sunshine for about one millisecond before the sounds start up, cars whooshing and trucks blaring and a jackhammer and a locomotive engine and people shouting and people screaming and gunshots and terrors, and then she just fucking loses it. Today was not, as they agree, the day. You know, I don't think I've ever felt sorry for a single Joan Cusack character. (Well, Alsatia a little, but only because Robin Williams ma

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