This is Dean’s first marathon”

LORELAI: Why not?

RORY: Because this is Dean’s first marathon. We were gonna go and watch and hang out, he’s totally looking forward to it. I told him about how Andrew gets in a fight with his date in the first fifteen minutes and storms off the floor. I told him about Taylor getting punch-drunk at hour fifteen and telling stories about how he always wanted to be a magician.

If Rory cares so much about Dean’s first marathon, why did she say she would work on the newspaper with Paris on that day? Possibly she and Dean were just going to go in the afternoon or evening to watch (although how will they see Andrew storm off in the first fifteen minutes, if so?).

It’s interesting to wonder why Dean didn’t go to the marathon the year before with Rory (in 2000, he and Rory only began dating in November, so it might have seemed too soon to drag him along). In the previous season around this time of year, Rory was doing the Shakespeare play with Tristan, and she and Dean weren’t getting along very well. It seems so much so that Rory didn’t invite her boyfriend to the marathon.

Hanging Up

DEAN: I know this is a stupid question, but why can’t you just talk to him?

LANE: Because yesterday he called to say that they were still looking for a rehearsal space and, uh, that he’d call when he had more news. So now I have to wait until he calls about the band – and in between, I call and hang up on him. Pathetic.

Lane has been calling Dave and hanging up when he answers, just so she can hear his voice. She and Dave are in regular contact even though the band has apparently gone on a break while they look for a suitable rehearsal space (he phoned her just the day before). However, lovesick Lane is still calling him multiple times a day.

Dean finds this behaviour ridiculous, and then he discovers Rory used to hang up on him before they were dating. I’m not sure how she got his number when they’d only spoken a few times, maybe Dean gave her his number straight away (which would surely be a clue he liked her?). Also, why doesn’t Dean remember someone ringing him all the time and then hanging up two years ago?

“I wanted a ballerina”

LORELAI: So it’s a girl?

SHERRY: Yeah. Christopher would’ve been happy with either, but I really wanted a ballerina.

Apparently Sherry thinks any girl is automatically a “ballerina” – perhaps a reflection on Amy Sherman-Palladino’s upbringing by a ballet teacher. Of course, not every girl wants to be a ballerina, and plenty of boys enjoy ballet.

It’s notable that Lorelai also enrolled Rory in ballet classes when she was a little girl, so her views and Sherry’s are not that different here.

Pete

RORY: I can’t believe you got into a fight with Pete.

LORELAI: Hey, you do not suddenly decide that garlic is an extra topping, not after five years, not after all we’ve been through.

The first mention of Pete as the owner/manager of the pizza store which Lorelai and Rory frequent, they have apparently been customers there since 1997, ever since Lorelai bought her own house. We met Joe delivering their pizza in “Kiss and Tell”, and Lorelai ordered a pizza from Joe in “The Break Up Part 2” – perhaps Joe is Pete’s son, and it’s a family business?

The bag Rory is carrying seems to have Bell Pizza written on it, but later the pizza store is called Antonioli’s Restaurant and Pizzeria. There is a Bell Pizza in the Los Angeles suburb of Bell, however.

Butch Danes

[Luke walks over to her. His high school picture is hanging in the display case with the caption “State High Hurdles Champion: 1985 – Butch Danes”]

LUKE: For the love of . . . what’s that doing there?

Here we discover Luke’s nickname in high school was “Butch” (a very manly nickname, best known from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid).

If Luke was seventeen in 1985, that would make him the same age as Lorelai, both of them born in 1968. If he was any younger that year, he would be younger than Lorelai, which doesn’t seem likely (it’s a stretch of plausibility that he’s the same age – Scott Patterson is almost a decade older than Lauren Graham). I don’t think he can have been eighteen, because he didn’t do his final year of high school.

Luke said he didn’t have a single positive memory from high school, yet he was a star athlete and a state hurdles champion. It can’t have been all bad. It’s definitely a lot better than what Jess has been through at school.

Debbie Fincher

Lorelai gets a phone call from Debbie Fincher, one of the mothers from Stars Hollow High School Parents and Teachers Association. We learn here that when Rory was a student at the school, Lorelai was actively involved in the PTA and got along well with the other parents, even being considered “a kick” because of her wicked sense of humour (very much like Emily, as it happens).

Rory was even friends (or at least friendly) with Debbie’s daughter Kathy Fincher, and used to go to her house to swim in their pool. Perhaps Kathy was one of the mysterious Stars Hollow girls who appeared at Rory’s sixteenth birthday party, and was never seen again? It does seem a little odd that Rory lives in a small town with teenagers that she went to school with and was apparently even friends with, yet has only kept in contact with Lane. Perhaps she runs into them offscreen.

The reason for Debbie’s call is to ask Lorelai to give a talk at the high school about her success in business, and to think of someone else they might ask. Lorelai agrees, and promptly suggests Luke as the second person.

Debbie Fincher is played by Heidi Swedberg, who had been in TV series such as Northern Exposure (1991), Murder She Wrote (1994), and Touched by an Angel (1996). She was best known for playing George Costanza’s fiancée Susan Ross in Seinfeld (1992-1997).

Yearbooks

DARREN: Here’s some of my Harvard yearbooks, peruse them if you like.

Yearbooks are published annually to commemorate the past year of a school, college, or university. They came out of the personal scrapbooks students put together in the 18th century, and the first formal yearbook was produced in 1806, at Yale.

The picture is for the 1974 Harvard yearbook, the year that Darren graduated, meaning he was born around 1952 and is about fifty years old in this episode. Notice that it is actually for both Harvard and Radcliffe – Radcliffe College was a women’s college founded in 1879, designed to be an all-female counterpart to the all-male Harvard. Harvard became fully co-educational in 1970, and in 1999, Radcliffe merged with Harvard.

Jackson Has to Wear a Kilt to the Wedding

Jackson is dismayed when his father hands him a kilt to wear to his wedding on the weekend. It’s a family tradition, and both Jackson’s father and grandfather were married in kilts, suggesting that the Belleville family have Scottish heritage. (Which made more sense when Jackson’s surname was Melville, which is a Scottish surname, while Belleville is French – although there is a historical relationship between France and Scotland, so it’s not unrealistic either).

I am not able to identify Jackson’s tartan – it looks most like a Buchanan Clan tartan, but I suspect it’s fictional.

Note that Jackson’s father is played by the real life father of Jackson Douglas, the actor who plays Jackson Belleville.

Cousin Carl

SOOKIE: Hey, my cousin Carl canceled so I have two empty seats.

We learn surprisingly little about Sookie’s family, except that her mother passed away some time before the opening of the show in 2000. We end up knowing far about Luke and Jackson’s families, for example. However, here we discover that she has a cousin named Carl. Because Carl can’t come to the wedding, Sookie has two extra seats, and she asks Lorelai to invite Emily and Richard, as a thank you for Emily’s overbearing and impractical help. They will, of course, be insulted by this last minute invitation.

School Pageant

RORY: I had a school thing once, and I wasn’t sure if Mom would want to go so I didn’t invite her. It was my kindergarten “Salute to Vegetables” pageant and I was broccoli and I did a tap dance with a guy that was playing beets and the entire number I was just thinking, “Mom’s not here” and it was my fault that she wasn’t there and, well, it was kind of a life lesson for me.

We already know that Rory studied ballet with Miss Patty when she was a little girl, but apparently she did tap dancing even in kindergarten! I’m guessing Miss Patty also taught tap to the kindergarten class. In A Year in the Life, Rory takes up tap dancing again as a way to relieve stress.

Rory’s little anecdote about the school pageant is actually one of the more plausible things we hear about her childhood. Most things make her seem either too old for her age or too young, but it’s perfectly believable that the thoughtful young child of a single, working mother who’s a maid at an inn would be hesitant at asking her mother to come to a school pageant.

Little Rory would know how hard Lorelai works and that there’s no other parent to fall back on if she’s unavailable. I can imagine her feeling that a school pageant isn’t important enough to pull Lorelai out of work for, yet missing her horribly when the moment arrives, and seeing all the other mothers there.

The fact that she blamed herself entirely for the situation shows that even as a young child, she was already placing herself as the responsible person in the relationship with her mother, and taking on the parental role.