Cha-cha-cha

SOOKIE: This is about the time you start doing your little getaway dance. Two months right on the nose – you’re good.
LORELAI: I do not do a dance.
SOOKIE: You’re cha-cha-cha-ing right now.

The cha-cha-cha (or the cha-cha) is a Latin American dance which originated in Cuba in the 1950s. Sookie may be thinking of this dance in particular as it begins with the woman stepping backwards as the man walks forwards, just as Lorelai is backing away from Max.

“Two months”

When Lorelai suddenly seems far less interested in Max, Sookie points out that Lorelai and Max have been dating for two months now – which is the usual time that Lorelai begins backing out of a relationship. Lorelai and Max began dating in mid-November 2000, so it must now be the middle of January 2001.

Sookie’s comment incidentally confirms that none of Lorelai’s relationships have lasted very long, which we inferred from her statement to Max that none of her dates ever went to her house or met Rory before. Near the end of the episode we learn that Rory never even knew their names, but that Lorelai referred to them by a brief description.

“Riding a bike”

SOOKIE: What on earth were you thinking?
LORELAI: That I could still skate.
SOOKIE: It’s not like riding a bike you know.

Sookie is referring to the common phrase that a skill that is once learned and never forgotten is “just like riding a bike”.

Opinions vary as to whether ice skating is just like riding a bike – some people say they easily picked it up after decades off the ice, just a little wobbly to begin with. Others find that after a long break from skating, they have no idea how to balance any more and have gone back to beginner status. Sore legs and feet are common, just as Lorelai is experiencing.

Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding

As they prepare for their ice skating date, Rory identifies herself as Nancy Kerrigan [pictured on the right], while Lorelai says she is Tonya Harding [left].

Nancy Kerrigan (born 1969) is a former figure skater, who became the US Champion in 1993. In 1994 she was clubbed in the knee by an assailant hired by the ex-husband of her rival Tonya Harding (born 1970), in an attempt to break her leg so that she would be unable to compete at the Winter Olympics.

The attack took place at the US Figure Skating Championships, ruling her out of the competition, which was won by Harding. Kerrigan made a good recovery from her injury (her knee was only bruised, not broken), and won silver at the 1994 Winter Olympics, held seven weeks later.

In March 1994, Harding pleaded guilty to conspiring to hinder prosecution of the attackers. She was fined and sentenced to community service, and was also forced to withdraw from the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships and to resign from the US Figure Skating Association. She was later stripped of her 1994 US Championships title and banned for life from participating in professional ice skating events in any capacity.

The fevered publicity generated by the scandal created a boom in professional ice skating, and may have even contributed to Rory’s interest in the skating film Ice Castles; like Lexie in the film, both Kerrigan and Harding came from modest backgrounds.

It is entirely within character that Rory identifies with the pageant-pretty “ice princess” Kerrigan who learned to fit in with the social conventions of the skating world, while Lorelai identifies with Harding – generally seen as an overly-dramatic emotional mess from the wrong side of the tracks. Harding also had issues with her mother, just as Lorelai does with Emily.

Zucchini Tush

JACKSON: Yes, great, I know, but all I’m asking you is to try stuffing something a little different this time huh? [holds up a funny-looking zucchini]
SOOKIE: A zucchini tush?
JACKSON: Just a temporary name.
SOOKIE: You want me to serve my customers a genetically engineered vegetable that’s named after a butt?
JACKSON: Hey this is an all natural vegetable hybrid that’s perfectly safe, completely delicious, and yes it looks a little odd but you can put in on the map!

Tush is American slang for “buttocks”, short for tochus, which is derived from the Yiddish word tokhes. It’s ultimately from the Hebrew for “beneath”.

Jackson says that his buttocks-shaped zucchini is a hybrid, but he doesn’t say of which other vegetable – maybe a summer squash. Unlike Jackson’s impossible rasquat, zucchini and summer squash cross-pollinate very easily, even with no human intervention. Sometimes the result looks like a short round zucchini, just like the one Jackson presents to Sookie, and a buttocks-shaped one sounds unusual but by no means impossible.

Max and Rory’s Code Names

When Rory says she is uncomfortable calling her teacher by his first name outside school, even though he is also her mother’s boyfriend, Max suggests they use code names for each other. He offers to call her “Rebecca” – probably just because it starts with the same letter as Rory, and was then a common name for girls of Rory’s age (it also has the same number of syllables as her full name, Lorelai).

From their ensuing conversation, we can tell that Rory immediately links the name with the 1940 romantic mystery film Rebecca, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on the 1938 best-selling novel of the same name by Daphne Du Maurier. Rebecca was the #1 film of 1940, and won two Academy Awards, including Best Picture; it is still regarded as a classic of Gothic romance and psychological drama.

The character of Rebecca never appears in the film, as she is already dead, the first wife of Max De Winter (Laurence Olivier) whose memory continues to haunt him and his new wife (Joan Fontaine). Rory feels that, like Rebecca, she should never have been seen – her role was to disappear before Max arrived for his date, as per the “Gilmore Dating Rules”.

Disturbingly, Max De Winter in the film secretly hated Rebecca, who led a scandalous life, and was glad when a struggle between them ended with her death. You can’t help but feel that Rory subconsciously believes that Max would prefer it if she didn’t exist, and perhaps even that she is a “scandal” as Lorelai’s illegitimate child to another man – the cause of Rebecca and Max’s final fight was because she (falsely) claimed she was bearing another man’s child, who would inherit his estate.

Because Rory already has her mind on Hitchcock films, she offers to call Max “Norman”, saying that Psycho was on (television?) earlier that evening. (Note that she cannot call him by the film name from Rebecca, as he is already named Max).

Psycho is a 1960 thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock, based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. Filmed on a low budget, the film received mixed reviews on release, but was a massive box office success, and the #2 film of 1960. Now Hitchcock’s best known film, it is regarded as one of the most influential films of all time, and one of the greatest in its genre.

Rory calls Max after Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), the murderer in the film. Norman Bates first appears to be a pleasant-looking, rather shy young man, but is subsequently exposed as a deranged killer who had a perverted relationship with his mother – one of his first victims. Rory could not make it clearer that she secretly fears Max wants her out of the way, and feels threatened by him dating her mother. Possibly Max’s pleasant manner to her is, in the depths of her mind, hiding something much more sinister.

Struggling to come up with another name, she can only think of “Alfred” after Alfred Hitchcock, the director of Rebecca and Psycho. Known for his voyeuristic camera style, his films often involve characters with a problematic relationship with their mothers, and beautiful yet icy women. Maybe Rory has already subconsciously picked up that there are problems between Lorelai and Max.

 

Marilyn Monroe-Arthur Miller Syndrome

MADELINE: I bet his [Max’s] girlfriend’s pretty.
LOUISE: I bet she’s dumb.
MADELINE: Why?
LOUISE: Dumb girls crave smart men. It’s that whole Marilyn Monroe-Arthur Miller syndrome.

Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe and left-wing playwright Arthur Miller married in 1956, after meeting in the early 1950s and dating seriously since 1955. The media saw the marriage as a mismatch, because Monroe’s typecast screen persona was a “dumb blonde”: one headline read Egghead Marries Hourglass. The couple divorced in 1961.

Lorelai and Max do fit the Monroe-Miller stereotype, as Max is written as far more literary and intellectual than the vivacious Lorelai.

“It’s 8 o’clock”

(Max rings the doorbell, arriving for his date with Lorelai)
LORELAI: It’s 8 o’clock. Who shows up at 8 o’clock for an 8 o’clock date?
RORY: I don’t know, maybe a Chilton teacher?
LORELAI: Everybody knows that 8 o’clock means 8:20, 8:15 tops!

Another mention of time and the problems it causes. Lorelai and Rory keep turning up late and getting into trouble for it; here someone else arrives on time and throws their schedule out.

Squab

EMILY: How’s the squab?
RORY: It’s good.
EMILY: Lorelai?
LORELAI: It’s the best tiny, weird bird I have ever eaten.

Squab is the meat of a young domestic pigeon, typically under four weeks old, served as a delicacy. In the US, squab is seen as a luxury food, and is expensive. It may be served roasted or grilled, and the meat is moister and richer in flavour than more common poultry.