There’s the Rub

The title for this episode comes from the phrase, “there’s the rub”, to mean that there is a problem or contradiction which is difficult or impossible to resolve. It’s also a pun, because Lorelai and Emily are going to a spa to receive massages, or to be “rubbed”.

The phrase is believed to have originated from the sport of lawn bowls, played since ancient times, and known in England since at least the 13th century. A ball (known as a bowl) is rolled toward a smaller stationary ball, called a jack. The object is to roll one’s bowls so that they come to rest nearer to the jack than those of an opponent. A rub is a flaw in the playing surface that interferes with the ball’s trajectory.

The saying was popularised by William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In the soliloquy scene, as Hamlet is contemplating suicide, he says, “To sleep; perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub: for in that sleep of death, what dreams may come?”.

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