Last fall when I discovered “the couple name”—Shelle, Lumi, Bope—the English major snob in me shuddered with distaste. Now I’ve given in (though I will never use “Payla”—some things are sacred, ‘k?). They’re even a little bit fun. There still isn’t a consensus regarding Max and Mimi’s couple name, though Maximi is what I see most often. I also see Miramax and Maxi (and hey, if they ever move in together they could live in the Maxi Pad). “Bope” still sounds funny to me, though it’s preferable to the alternative: “Ho.” I cracked up over somebody’s use of the term “Philmi Phetus” to describe the baby Lauren the surrogate is carrying. Filmy Fetus. Gross but true.

At any rate, the newest Salem couple now has a name: Chick.

Chick were the highlight of the week for me. I haven’t given up on Shelle, and I thought their almost-kiss this week was sweet, but I’ll talk about them again another time. I have loved Chelsea since JER left last summer; I thought she was the first character to benefit from the new writing. She and Steve get the best snarky one-liners.

Before the storyline took a detour with LonelySplicer and the Billie/Nick (Nillie? Bick?) hookup, I thought I saw promising chemistry between Rachel Melvin and Blake Berris. They played off each other beautifully this week. Nick and Chelsea agree to travel to Toronto to deliver some much-needed cash to Shawn and Belle, and they bicker and banter and outsmart Phillip on the way. Chelsea has to distract Phillip so Nick can slip a knife into his suitcase (thus stopping him at airport security), so she makes him think she’s going to tell him where Shawn and Belle are, and then she shouts in his ear, “They’re in Canada! Pay attention!” Hee.

On the plane, Chelsea asks Nick what he’s reading, and he says, “It’s just this article on the molecular structure of molecules.” (It turns out to be a bridal guide.) Then they start talking about sex, and Chelsea, when pressed to tell some names of the guys she’s slept with, says “First there was Larry … and then Moe … and then Curly.” What I love, though, is all this is not just meaningless banter. It establishes Nick’s inexperience, which he’s honest but cagey about (since he slept with Billie, of course) , while at the same time shows Chelsea pretending to be much more experienced than she is. She admits to sleeping with ten guys, but implies that there are even more (she just doesn’t want to “take off her shoes and count on her toes.”) We know this isn’t true. So why does she lie? She’s been looking down on Nick the geek since they met; maybe she doesn’t want to seem at a disadvantage with him. Maybe she wants him to see her as the dangerous bad girl. We don’t know for sure, and I’m content not to know. It’s enough that it’s believable, and adds another little fillup to her character.

Another refreshing thing about Chelsea and Nick is they are both smart. Nick is the ubergeek, of course, but also funny and wise. And Chelsea is the smart aleck who has never used her smarts for any good purpose. I like Shawn and Belle, but this week it was a funny contrast to see Nick’s calm competence and Chelsea’s fast-talking street smarts sharing the screen with Grunt and Whiny.

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