LORELAI: Hey Mom, I might be reading too much into this, but um, is something going on between you and Dad? EMILY: What are you talking about? LORELAI: I don’t know, he just seems a little less jolly than usual.
Even the self-centred Lorelai has picked up that her parents are not getting along, and that her father isn’t happy. While Emily is seemingly obsessed with Rory’s debutante ball, Richard appears quite uninterested, even refusing to pick up his own tuxedo from the dry cleaners as he has too much work to do. Yet he is home early, not in work clothes, and drinking alcohol … hmm.
Emily declares that everything is fine, and Lorelai uncharacteristically backs down, saying that she must have been mistaken.
EMILY: There’s the presentation, the circle, the curtsy, the fan dance.
Debutantes are presented to a guest of honour during their debut, as a sign that they are being welcomed into good society. Originally, debutantes were presented to a reigning monarch at the English court. These days, it’s usually to someone prominent in the community.
All the debutantes and their escorts form a large circle, and take a slow, leisurely walk around it together. It’s designed to show off the girls, much like models on a catwalk, and is probably the part Lorelai was thinking of when she said it was like a “county fair”. Once upon a time, the idea was to let eligible bachelors get a good long look at some marital prospects, but these days it’s mostly so parents can see their little girl all dressed up and take pictures for Facebook etc.
The debutantes receive many lessons on how to perform the perfect deep curtsy at the ball. Sometimes the curtsy is during the presentation, while at other balls, the curtsy will be part of a complicated dance or performance. Rory seems to be missing out on all those weeks of curtsy practice, but presumably is getting intensive training from her parents and grandmother that we don’t see onscreen.
Often at debutante balls, the debutantes perform some kind of highly choreographed dance routine. Amusingly, at Rory’s ball, the debutantes are preparing a “fan dance”, which is literally an erotic dance, usually performed in the nude or a skimpy costume as part of a burlesque show. Of course this would never happen at a real debutante ball, and the girls will all be wearing formal dresses anyway. (Picture shows burlesque dancer Michelle L’Amour performing).
The song playing in car Christopher’s car when he turns the sound system up. It’s a song by German electro-industrial metal band Rammstein, from their 1997 album Sehnsucht. The song was a #5 hit in Germany, and went to #20 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart in the US.
The song’s title translates to “You have” in English, but in German is a play on words with the homophone Du hasst, meaning, “You hate”. Possibly a slightly threatening song to arrive with, although it’s another reminder that Lorelai and Chris are both heavy metal fans.
LORELAI: Oh yeah. A Volvo sedan, are you kidding? CHRISTOPHER: This is a great car. LORELAI: For driving to bingo.
CHRISTOPHER: I’ve got Alpine head units, two subs, and two twelves. In exchange, no passenger-side airbag.
Volvo is a Swedish brand of luxury cars founded in 1927; the name is Latin for “I roll”. It was founded upon the concept of safety, and their cars have long been marketed as safe and reliable; many of the Volvo’s safety innovations have now become standard or even compulsory. Lorelai sees it as an old person’s car, because of its staid and rather boring image.
I think Christopher’s car is a 2001 Volvo S80, an executive sedan. He describes the car’s sound system as Alpine brand head units, with two sub woofers, and two twelve-inch sub woofers (maybe he means two amplifiers and two twelve-inch sub woofers?), which means he had to give up passenger-side airbags, a major feature of the S80. So he’s bought a safe car, and made it less safe (for the person who’s not him), so he can enjoy music.
As Lorelai notes, Christopher has given up his cool motorcycle for a sensible car, but the old (selfish) Christopher still lives. Take warning!
(There is an immediate shot of the Massachusetts license plate, to remind us Christopher has moved to Boston. It begins with 169, which seems like a naughty joke, although it’s not a vanity plate, so not deliberate on Christopher’s part).
RORY: The Compact Oxford English Dictionary! CHRISTOPHER: I promised you I’d get it. I’m just sorry it took so long. RORY: That’s okay. CHRISTOPHER: On the bright side, this is the new edition. If I’d gotten you the old one, you wouldn’t have the word ‘jiggy’ in it. RORY: Thank you. I love it, I’m gonna go look things up right now. CHRISTOPHER: Wait, wait. [hands her magnifying glass]
The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, previously discussed as Rory’s dream book, which Christopher couldn’t buy her six months ago because his credit card was declined.
This time he is able to buy her the 2001 edition, which contains the American slang word “jiggy”. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “Excitedly energetic or uninhibited, often in a sexual manner; to get jiggy: to engage in sexual activity”.
The Compact Oxford English Dictionary has such fine print that it comes with its own reading glass.
CHRISTOPHER: Whoa! Hold it right there. A lady never runs out to meet a gentleman caller who hasn’t been announced.
A callback both to The Glass Menagerie, previously discussed, and to the advice Emily gave Rory, when she wanted to run out to Dean before he’d knocked at the door. Christopher lets Rory know that he’s lived in Emily’s world, and knows its rules, but that he also takes an ironic, playful attitude to them. He’s letting Rory know that he understands exactly how to behave at her debut, but will be an ally for her in not taking it too seriously, so that she’s relaxed about it rather than stressed.
Then again, Lorelai is running right behind Rory – is his teasing comment secretly aimed at Lorelai?
RORY: Remember that I’ll be watching BattleBots with you for a month.
BattleBots is an American robot combat television show, where competitors design and operate by remote control their own armoured machines, which fight in an elimination tournament. It first aired in 2000.
Here we discover this is a favourite TV program of Dean’s, and that Rory needs a bribe to induce her to watch it with him. Considering that Dean tamely watches everything Lorelai and Rory do, with no complaint, it seems a bit much she can’t put herself out to watch something he enjoys unless he does her a favour.
On the other hand, Dean is Rory’s boyfriend – he shouldn’t really need any “payment” to be her escort for her debutante ball. It should be something he wants to do for her, especially considering that Emily would be more than happy to organise a suitable escort for Rory in his stead. I feel as if Dean is having things both ways: going to the ball only reluctantly and with a lot of moaning, yet if Rory went with someone else, he’d be very jealous and sulky about it.
While discussing preparations for the ball, it transpires that Rory will be wearing a crinoline under her dress, and Dean will need to wear a cummerbund.
A crinoline is another word for a hoop skirt, previously discussed.
A cummerbund is a broad sash worn around the waist, these days usually with a dinner jacket or tuxedo. Originating in Persia, they were adopted by British officers stationed in India, and adopted as an alternative to the waistcoat. A cummerbund is worn for black tie events in North America.