(Original Publication Date, 22 December 1990)
Panel 1: As the performance of the Nutcracker On Ice ends, the skaters take a bow as the audience applauds. It should be noted that this is one of the rare occasions in which Lynn's habit of littering a page with onomatopoeia makes something like sense.
Panel 2: A little while later, we find Liz handing her skates to Elly as she talks a mile a minute about what just happened. She asks Elly if she liked it and was it okay before talking about something that Elly has a policy of Not Caring About when she tells her that a girl named Karen stuffed a box of Nerds™ down the tights of a boy named Brett before he went on. She then asks for some money because she's starved!
A normal person would reassure Liz that her performance was okay, care enough about her child's life to accept the fact that she has to know something about other children and realize that Liz is gonna need something to eat after this workout but doesn't have pockets in the ice/sugar plum/dragon flame fairy outfit she's got on. As we are about to be reminded, Elly is far from normal.
Panel 3: Pay close attention to Elly's face when Liz says "Boy, am I ever glad THAT'S over! I was so scared, I thought I was gonna barf.....but I didn't fall even once! Didja check out Brenna? She stuffed her front with Kleenex!!" and notice the look of almost horror upon it. One would think that this was supposed to transform Liz into something other than a child or something. What Elly got is a child who's glad something that she was nervous about ended happily and that she did not embarrass herself and who again wants her to pay attention to what something someone else's irrelevant child did. A normal person would accept this as par for the course. As jjamele reminds us, Elly is best understood as an alien incapable of understanding human behaviour as anything other than a horrifying threat.
Panel 4: When she comes upon John who's still got a sentimental smile on his ugly face, Liz asks why he's still sitting in the bleachers. Elly says that he doesn't want the magic to end.
Summary: This, as I have said, is the real conflict: Liz insists upon being an actual child living a child's life but is surrounded by idiot adults who want her to be something else. John wants an emotional crutch who smiles non-stop because fitting in with other children is not supposed to be a problem and Elly wants a suddenly wonderful gumdrop who doesn't squirm when she yanks her hair half out of its roots.