Rory Shows Emily the Potting Shed

(Rory opens the door and walks in. Emily looks in from the doorway.)
RORY: I know it’s looks small, but it’s really pretty. Come on. See, we had our bed right over there, and Mom put up this really pretty curtain around the tub so that it looked like a real bathroom. And we would just sit outside at night when the Inn would have parties, and we’d just listen to music and feed the ducks and . . . (Emily walks away) Grandma? Grandma wait, what’s the matter?

This is the potting shed next to the duck pond at the Independence Inn that Lorelai and Rory lived in when they first moved to Stars Hollow, as they had no money for accommodation (like the Holy Family, there was “no room at the inn”, and they were put in an outbuilding, so Baby Rory was just like Baby Jesus).

The shed is sturdy but rustic, and is stocked with gardening tools and plants, like any potting shed: it isn’t clear if those things were there while Lorelai and Rory lived there. Their bed is no longer there (they must have shared a single bed together), but the bath has been left, including the curtain that Lorelai put around it to serve as a bathroom wall. Lorelai mentioned that it has rosebud wallpaper, but the is shed painted white inside and doesn’t look as though it’s got the kind of walls that you could easily wallpaper.

It looks impractical for bringing up a baby, and we learn later that they moved to Stars Hollow in the autumn, so it would have been very cold as well (we don’t know what they used for heating). We don’t know how long they lived in this temporary accomodation, but long enough for Rory, who was only a baby when they came to Stars Hollow, to have some memories of it, and long enough that the weather became warm enough for them to sit outside at night. I would guess at least a year, and possibly two. Who looked after baby Rory while Lorelai was working is unknown.

This is the first time that Emily has ever seen the potting shed, and she is clearly distraught to discover the conditions her daughter and granddaughter lived in. Lorelai told Sookie that her parents visited them a few times at the inn while Rory was a baby, but they never saw where they slept at night. Lorelai was probably clever at keeping them away from the shed, but their lack of curiosity is surprising. Perhaps they were scared to push it in case Lorelai ran even further away.

In this case, it is Emily who runs away, too upset to spend any more with time with Rory or even say a proper goodbye to her. This incident serves as a device to keep Emily at a distance from Stars Hollow. Emily was having a good time with Rory, and was fitting in well with the townspeople, finding that she had things in common with Mrs. Kim and Michel. By showing her in the potting shed, it explains why Emily doesn’t visit Stars Hollow more often in the future.

Where they lived between the potting shed when Rory was a baby/toddler, and moving into their own house when Rory was eleven, is a complete mystery and never mentioned. Perhaps Lorelai saved up enough money to rent a cheap apartment for them, but renting would make it hard to save for a house. They could have lived in a friend’s house (with Sookie?), but if so, nobody ever refers to it.

In real life, it wouldn’t be legal for anyone to live in the potting shed under Connecticut zoning laws, but I’m not sure that would stop Lorelai anyway – rules were made for non-Gilmores!

Maine

RORY: Are these new chairs, Grandma?
EMILY: Why, yes Rory, they are … I got them from a dealer up in Maine last summer. He just finished restoring them.

Maine is the most northerly state in New England, sharing its northern border with Canada. It is well known for its many antique shops, mostly catering to summer tourists. Richard and Emily spend their summers on Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Maine, so perhaps she bought the chairs on the island itself, or from one of the many antique stores on Cape Cod.

Straub, Richard, and Lorelai

Christopher’s father Straub (Peter Michael Goetz) could hardly be written as more hateful. He makes it clear that he sees Rory as nothing more than a terrible mistake, entirely Lorelai’s fault, which ruined his son’s life. He even suggests that as a sixteen-year-old, Rory is just about to get pregnant herself (“dangerous age for girls”). He looks down on Lorelai, and identifies her position as executive manager of an inn as a “blue collar” job. This is ridiculous, as Lorelai is in no way performing manual labour – I suspect he still thinks of her as a maid.

It is entirely satisfying when Richard throws Straub and the mousily ineffectual Francine (Cristine Rose) out of the house (with Francine, you can see where Christopher gets his weak character from, although Straub’s bullying also provides an explanation for his overly compliant wife and son). The fight between Straub and Richard explains why Rory never has any further contact with her paternal grandparents.

Lorelai thanks her father for defending her, but instead of a sweet father-daughter moment, Richard coldly tells her that he wasn’t defending her, but “the Gilmore name”. He lets Lorelai know in no uncertain terms that she brought shame to the family by getting pregnant, and that after she ran away from home Emily was confined to her bed for a month with grief – something Lorelai did not know until this moment.

Richard lets Lorelai know that he hated Christopher for getting her pregnant, but that Christopher at least was willing to marry Lorelai and work in the insurance business to support her and Rory (Christopher would agree to anything to avoid conflict, although we can feel fairly confident he would have found a way to weasel out of it at some point).

Richard continues to blame Lorelai for not marrying Christopher, her personal feelings being irrelevant to him. This seems to be further evidence that the whole plan to reunite the Gilmores and the Haydens was something cooked up by Richard and Emily, who really want Lorelai to marry someone suitable, with Rory’s father being the best candidate in their eyes.

Princeton

STRAUB: Our son was bound for Princeton. Every Hayden male attended Princeton including myself, but it all stopped with Christopher. It’s a humiliation we’ve had to live with every day, all because you seduced him into ruining his life. She had that baby and ended his future.

Princeton University is a private Ivy League university which was founded in 1746, making it one of the oldest universities in the United States. It is located in Princeton, New Jersey.

We learn from Straub that several generations of his family have attended Princeton. He specifically says the males, as Princeton only became co-educational in 1969 – if Christopher had a sister, she might have gone to Princeton.

I’m pretty sure you can still go to Princeton if you have a child with your high school girlfriend, so Straub is clutching at straws in his efforts to blame Lorelai and Rory for Christopher not being accepted into Princeton (or any other university).

Straub doesn’t make Christopher face the consequences of his actions, and blames others for any failure in his life, which is one reason why Christopher is such a weak and unreliable person. It’s notable that Christopher privately tells Lorelai it isn’t her fault her didn’t go to Princeton, but doesn’t have the guts to defend her openly, and tell his father that.

The Bahamas

RICHARD: Well Straub, how is retirement treating you?
EMILY: Yes, do tell us about the Bahamas.
STRAUB: You can get an entire island there for the cost of a decent house here.

The Bahamas (officially the Commonwealth of The Bahamas) is a sovereign state made up of an archipelago of over 700 islands, cays, and islets in the Atlantic Ocean. Under British control for most of its modern history, it has been independent since 1973, but, like other Commonwealth nations, retains the British monarch as head of state.

The Bahamas is a popular destination for Americans to retire to: it is English-speaking, has a warm climate with beautiful beaches, and only 40 minutes by plane from Florida. Residents don’t pay any tax either, which is another drawcard, and to become a permanent resident, all you have to do is buy a property worth $500 000 or more.

It is possible to buy a very small island in The Bahamas today for as little as $500 000 – the price of a nice house in Hartford. I suspect for Straub, a “decent” house in Hartford would be around the 1 million mark in today’s money, and for a million dollars, you could get a rather nice little islet in The Bahamas.

That Straub and Francine live in The Bahamas provides a convenient excuse as to why they haven’t been any part of Rory’s life. (Emily asks them what The Bahamas is like, but in a later season we discover she and Richard spent the previous Christmas in The Bahamas, presumably so that Richard could relax after his angina attack).

Lorelai and Christopher’s Childhood Duet

CHRISTOPHER: Lucy, Schroeder, you laying on the coffee table.
LORELAI: You pretending it was a piano. God, why is that remembered?
EMILY: Because it was such a wonderful production.
LORELAI: I don’t know if it was a production, Mom. It was just one song.
CHRISTOPHER: Suppertime.
RICHARD: Did you write that? That was really very good.
LORELAI: Dad, that’s from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. It’s a famous musical.

At the age of ten (around 1978), Lorelai and Christopher sang a song for at least Richard and Emily, and possibly Christopher’s parents as well.

The song was Suppertime, from the 1967 musical comedy You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown by Clark Gesner, based on the characters from the Peanuts comic strip drawn by Charles M. Schulz. The show premiered off-Broadway in 1967, went to London’s West End in 1968, and opened on Broadway in 1971. It had a Broadway revival in 1999.

The show was adapted for television in 1973, when Lorelai and Christopher were about five. This might be where they knew of the musical from, although it’s a favourite for amateurs to perform, and they might have seen a local production, or even been in a school production. The musical was adapted for TV again in 1985.

Suppertime is a song sung by the dog Snoopy, about his excitement in being fed after waiting hopelessly for the food to arrive. It’s a strange song to choose as a duet, because Snoopy sings almost the entire song, with only a few interjections from Charlie Brown. I presume Lorelai sung Snoopy’s part, and Christopher sung Charlie Brown’s – it seems like her to hog the limelight, and like him to do only minimal work. Possibly they chose that song because they were performing it just before dinner was served.

Lorelai and Christopher recall playing the roles of Lucy and Schroeder, in the iconic pose of Lucy lying on the piano while Schroeder plays it. It isn’t clear how this fitted in with the song by Snoopy. In the musical, Lucy and Schroeder have a scene together where he plays Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on the piano while Lucy expresses her love for him and asks about marriage, while Schroeder remains detached. This is ironic considering what comes later.