Sandra Day O’Connor

PARIS: And the connection you make with the Puffs, they last the rest of your life. My cousin Maddie got her internship at the Supreme Court because of Sandra Day O’Connor.
RORY: Sandra Day O’Connor was a Puff?
PARIS: Yes. She was Puffed in 1946, became the president in ’47, and in ’48 she actually moved the group to the very table you sat at today.

Sandra Day O’Connor (born 1930) is a retired attorney and politician who served as the first female associate judge in the US Supreme Court from 1981 to 2006. Prior to that, she was a judge and elected Republican leader in the Arizona Senate, the first female majority leader in a state senate.

O’Connor most often voted with the conservative bloc of the Supreme Court, and was sometimes named as the most powerful woman in the world. She retired in 2005, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2009.

In real life, Sandra Day O’Connor could not have gone to Chilton or been a Puff. She was born in Texas and lived on a cattle ranch, attending a private girl’s school in El Paso. For her final year of schooling, she took a 32-mile bus trip every day to attend Stephen F. Austin High School in El Paso (rather like Rory going to Hartford).

In 1946, aged 16, she enrolled at Stanford University, where she gained a BA in Economics in 1950, so she was far beyond the world of high school sororities by that stage. And even at university, she didn’t join a sorority, as they didn’t exist at Stanford at that time.

I think she was just too tough and sensible to ever bother about table allocation in the dining hall, or gossiping about Homecoming. I presume the ludicrousness of the idea is what gave it appeal as a joke.

We also learn that Paris has an older cousin named Maddie who interned at the Supreme Court with the assistance of Sandra Day O’Connor. Maddie must have been a Puff as well, and possibly has a career in law. In real life, membership of sororities and fraternities can gain you coveted positions, although I doubt a high school one would actually be that influential.

The Puffs, the #1 Chilton Sorority

PARIS: No, they’re the Puffs, the most influential sorority at Chilton.
RORY: Chilton has sororities?

PARIS: Only ten worth mentioning, and the Puffs, they have been number one for at least the last fifty years.

A sorority is a women’s social organisation at a college or university, the female equivalent of a fraternity. They were once common in US high schools as well, but these days many schools ban them. However, they are still in existence, and some schools are willing to turn a blind eye to them while not recognising them officially.

We learn here that Chilton is the sort of school which tolerates this practice, and that it has at least ten major sororities! The Puffs have been the most powerful and exclusive of them since at least 1951.

The current Puffs seem to consist of Francine “Francie” Jarvis (President), Ivy, Dijur, Lily, Celine, Lana, Asia, Anna, and Lemon. The name Puffs could have been chosen in-universe because of powder puffs, suggesting a fashionable femininity, or even that they are delicious little morsels, as puffs are such a favourite food in Gilmore Girls. However, it suggests being filled with their own importance (“puffed up”, “puff piece”) and full of hot air.

There’s something insubstantial about the Puffs, as if a puff of wind could blow them away – remember that Rory even pretended a draft of air is what drove her to their table, taking her on a trip to another world just as weird and bizarre as Oz.

Cosa Nostra

RORY: I don’t know, I just sat down.
PARIS: Nobody just sits down with them, you have to be invited.
RORY: Paris, it’s not the Cosa Nostra.

Cosa Nostra is the name for the Sicilian Mafia. It literally means “our thing”. Rory would be familiar with it from the Godfather films. One of the “rules” of the Cosa Nostra is that you can never approach it without invitation; you must be introduced by a trusted member.

Pop Up Book

[Rory walks out of the dining hall and runs into Paris.]
RORY: God! You’re like a pop up book from hell.

A three-dimensional book, designed so that when it is opened, a scene or picture made from folded cardboard appears. They date to the Middle Ages, and were first made for adult readers – usually scholarly works, providing three-dimensional diagrams, for example. Not until the late 18th century did they begin to be made for children.

Coming Home

FRANCIE: We were just discussing Homecoming. Thoughts?
RORY: Great movie. Oh wait, that was Coming Home. Sorry.

The tradition of Homecoming, previously discussed.

Coming Home is a 1978 romantic drama war film starring Jane Fonda and Jon Voigt, in a love triangle story between Sally, the wife of a Marine Corps Captain deployed in Vietnam (played by Bruce Dern), and Luke, a young man who has returned from the war a paraplegic. He and Sally meet at the veteran’s hospital where Sally is volunteering. It has an excellent soundtrack of late 1960s songs.

The film received good reviews, and was popular with audiences. It is still regarded as one of the best dramatic films ever made.

“Toto, we’re not in Kansas any more”

RORY: There’s a bad draft over there where I usually sit. It’s kind of like a big downward gust. It’s not exactly ‘Toto, we’re not in Kansas any more’, but it’s still pretty darn uncomfortable, especially when you’re just gotten your hair to behave. So can I sit here?

A reference to The Wizard of Oz, previously discussed.

In the film, Dorothy and her dog Toto are taken to the Land of Oz by a violent cyclone, and when they arrive, Dorothy says, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re in not in Kansas any more” – a movie quote nearly everyone gets wrong, just like Rory does.

Rory is saying the draft isn’t exactly a cyclone, but she’d still prefer not to sit in it.

Rave Club

LORELAI: Talk to some kids, I’ll hang out with their moms, and we’ll get into Harvard, take over the world, then buy Chilton and turn it into a rave club.

A rave club is one which hosts dance parties (“raves”), typically featuring Djs and electronic dance music. Most often associated with the early 90s.

Note that Lorelai says, “We’ll get into Harvard”, rather than “You’ll get into Harvard”, as if Rory has to succeed for both of them.

“L tattooed on her forehead”

LORELAI: And these fanatics that run your school, they’re the ones that write the letters to the fancy colleges saying things like, ‘Hey she’s keen, look at her’ or ‘Have you seen the L tattooed on her forehead, ’cause it sure is a big one.’

Lorelai is referring to the habit, very common in the 1990s, of satirically making an L shape with the fingers on either your own or another’s forehead to denote you or they were a “loser”. Lorelai imagines the L to be tattooed on Rory’s forehead as a mark of permanent loserdom. Loner and loser seem to become conflated extremely quickly in this episode.