Patty Cake

PARIS: We’re fencing Rory, not playing patty cake.

Patty cake or Pat-a-cake, a clapping game which accompanies the nursery rhyme, “Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake, Bakers Man”. It alternates between a normal individual clap by one person with two-handed claps with the other person. The hands may be crossed as well. This allows for a possibly complex sequence of clapping that must be coordinated between the two.

Fencing Terms

Beginning salute: A blade action performed before a bout or lesson. Indicates respect and good sportsmanship.

En garde: Spoken at outset to alert fencers to take defensive positions. Full commencing phrase is En garde! Prêts? Allez! (‘On guard! Ready? Go!’ For two female fencers, prêts becomes prêtes.)

Advance: The ‘advance’ is the basic forward movement. The front foot moves first, beginning by lifting the toes. The leg is straightened at the knee, pushing the heel out in front. Land on the heel, and then bring the back foot up to en garde stance.

Retreat: The basic backwards movement. Rear foot reaches backwards and is firmly planted, then front leg pushes body weight backwards smoothly into en garde stance.

Lunge: The most basic and common attacking movement in modern fencing. From en garde, push the front heel out by extending the front leg from the knee. Do not bend the front ankle, or lift up on the ball of the front foot. This means that the front foot must move forward prior to the body weight shifting forward. As the front leg extends, energetically push erect body forward with the rear leg. Rear arm extends during forward motion as a counterbalance. Land on the front heel and glide down into final position, with front shin perpendicular to the ground, and both heels on the floor. During this action, the torso should remain relatively erect, and not be thrown forward. Often, the back foot can be pulled along behind during an energetic lunge. It is important, and a fundamental characteristic of the lunge, to fully extend the back leg, obtaining full power from this spring-like extension.

Parry: A simple defensive action designed to deflect an attack, performed with the forte of the blade. A parry is usually only wide enough to allow the attacker’s blade to just miss; any additional motion is wasteful. A well-executed parry should take the foible of the attacker’s blade with the forte and/or guard of the defender’s. This provides the greatest control over the opponent’s blade.

Quarte: Parry #4; blade up and to the inside, wrist supinated. The point is higher than the hand.

Sixte: Parry #6; blade up and to the outside, wrist supinated. The point is higher than the hand.

Riposte: An attack made immediately after a parry of the opponent’s attack.

Counter-riposte: A second, third, or further riposte in a fencing encounter. A counter-riposte is the offensive action following the parry of any riposte.

“Close your eyes and think of England”

MADELINE: Oh my God, there’s a hair in mine.
LOUISE: Just close your eyes and think of England, honey.

Close your eyes and think of England is a phrase which references unwanted sexual intercourse, specifically advice to an unwilling wife to accept the sexual advances of her husband, as a wifely duty.

The saying is said to come from the 1912 diary of Alice, Lady Hillingdon [pictured], who wrote:

I am happy now that [my husband] Charles calls on my bedchamber less frequently than of old. As it is, I now endure but two calls a week and when I hear his steps outside my door I lie down on my bed, close my eyes, open my legs and think of England.

The diary is not available to the public, so this explanation has to remain speculative. It is often thought of as summing up Victorian attitudes to marital sexuality and sex education for girls, although it the saying itself actually seems to date to the twentieth century.

Striptease Aerobics

LOUISE: Or striptease aerobics …

MADELINE: It’s really big in L.A. You just go through the motions, you don’t actually have to strip.

Striptease aerobics has its origins in pole dancing fitness classes, which first began in a studio in Canada in the 1980s, with the classes run by professional strippers. By the early 2000s, striptease aerobics had taken off in New York and Los Angeles, and often involved pole dancing as well. As Madeline says, normal fitness clothing is generally worn, there isn’t any actual stripping off.

“Brain trust behind PE”

LOUISE: You’d think the brain trust behind P.E. could come up with some sport that didn’t give you helmet hair all afternoon.

A brain trust is a group of experts appointed to advise a government, leader, or organisation. The concept comes from President F.D.R. Roosevelt. In the UK, the term brains trust is more common. It is often used sarcastically, to imply the people in charge aren’t very intelligent at all.

Louise makes it sound as if they have no choice about doing fencing for Physical Education, yet in Season 1, Rory said that there were numerous sports to choose from at Chilton. She signed up for golf, but is doing fencing now. A lot of fans find that confusing, yet it doesn’t seem that strange that a different sport might be chosen for each year, or each semester.

Fencing Class

In this episode, Rory, Paris, Louise, and Madeline have a fencing class. This may remind the viewer that Richard Gilmore was a keen fencing athlete when he was at Yale – something which Emily found very attractive about him.

It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the James Bond film Die Another Day had come out the previous year, in 2002, directed by Lee Tamahori, and starring Pierce Brosnan as the title character.

It has a notable fencing scene in it [pictured], where James Bond has an unexpectedly aggressive fencing bout with the villain, Gustav Graves, played by Toby Stephens. The fencing instructor in the film is played by Madonna, one of Lorelei’s favourite celebrities (she also sings the film’s theme song). Less than a month after this movie’s release, UK fencing clubs saw an increase in the number of people interested in taking up the activity.

Die Another Day was a box-office smash, and the #6 film of 2002. It received reasonable reviews at the time, but is now considered one of the worst of the films in the series. It was heavily criticised by Pierce Brosnan.

The fencing instructor at Chilton is played by Teigh McDonough, whose background was in the Chicago theatre scene.

“Talk to the hand”

FRANCIE: Rory came to me and said she wanted to talk about some things . . . you know, policy, the prom, the senior gift, et cetera. So of course I said, “why don’t we talk about them at the student council meeting with Paris?” And she said she wanted to do this without Paris. She said Paris is just too wrapped up in that boyfriend of hers to care about any of this. I didn’t know what to do, so I went, and then I found these, and I’m just so upset. I mean, I would never intentionally do anything behind your back, Paris. And I promise, the next time Rory tries to get me to, I’m just gonna say, ‘Talk to the hand’, you know what I mean?

Talk to the hand, slang from the 1990s, a sarcastic way of saying the person doesn’t want to listen. More or less telling them to shut up. Often accompanied by holding the hand out with the palm towards the speaker, as if physically stopping the person from continuing.

Francie’s story about Rory is fanciful and accompanied by the most flimsy of evidence. Even if it were true, all she is claiming is that Rory spoke about the prom without involving Paris, which already happened at the supplementary meeting, and Paris wasn’t that bothered.

The fact that Paris falls for this farrago of lies tells us that Rory is more important to her than she has let on, and that she is far more insecure than she likes people to know. Also, plot drama!

Hand washing

Francie comes to talk to Paris while she is washing her hands in the bathroom. Even though there are two containers of handwash at the basin, the viewer can see she is using her own handwash or hand sanitiser. This is meant to indicate how “crazy” and germphobic Paris is, but post-Covid, she now looks pretty sensible and well organised!

People Magazine

LORELAI: And dental floss. And paper towels. And People magazine. We’re really hungry.

People is an American weekly magazine headquartered in New York City that specialises in celebrity news and human-interest stories. It was the brainchild of Time magazine CEO Andrew Heiskell, and the core of the founding editorial team were from Life magazine, which had closed down a little more than a year earlier.

It is one of the most successful and popular magazines in the US, and is perhaps best-known for its annual special issues naming the “World’s Most Beautiful”, “Best and Worst Dressed”, “Sexiest Man Alive”, and “Most Intriguing People”. In 2003, it judged the most beautiful/sexy people that year to be Halle Berry and Johnny Depp.

Lorelai just starts ordering Luke to pick up things she needs from the store! Compare with Rory’s order when Lane agrees to pick her shopping – dental floss and magazines seem to be essentials for Gilmore girls.

Cherry Pie

LUKE: Dessert? …
RORY: Cherry.

LORELAI: And whipped cream.

The Gilmore girls always have cherry pie for dessert on Wednesday nights, which Luke knows by heart by now. He seems to forget in this episode, either to tease them, or because having to do an emergency shop because Jess forgot to do the ordering has put it out of his mind. Whipped cream is apparently their preferred topping.

The rest of their dinner order is for cheeseburgers and Tater Tots, previously discussed.