Room Mates

LORELAI: They just force someone on you?
RORY: It’s all part of the socialising experience.
LORELAI: What if it’s a lemon?
RORY: Then I’m stuck with a lemon.
LORELAI: Hare Krishna banging a tambourine all night?
RORY: Then I have to get earplugs.
LORELAI: Serial murderer?
RORY: Then I sleep with a gat strapped to my ankle.

In American slang, a lemon is a worthless person or object. It dates from the early 20th century, and was originally criminal slang meaning “loser, simpleton” – perhaps with the idea that they were people that the criminal could “suck the juice from”.

In American slang, a gat is a gun. It is short for Gatling gun, the early machine gun invented by Richard Gatling for use during the American Civil War. The criminal slang was especially prevalent during the Prohibition era of the 1920s.

It is perhaps apt that Rory and Lorelai use criminal slang while trespassing.

In a later season, Rory does indeed get a college room mate forced upon her unexpectedly.

Chuppah

LORELAI: What is that?
LUKE: Oh, it’s a chuppah.
LORELAI: A what?
LUKE: A chuppah. You stand under it, you and Max. It’s for your wedding.

A chuppah is a canopy which a Jewish couple stand under when they are married. It’s usually a cloth or sheet (sometimes a prayer cloth) held up by four wooden poles. In Orthodox Judaism, there is meant to be open sky above the chuppah, just as is planned for Max and Lorelai’s garden wedding. The chuppah represents the home the couple are making together, which will always be open to guests.

Lorelai wonders whether it would be inappropriate for she and Max to have a chuppah, and gains reassurance from Luke on that point. Luke is actually correct: there is nothing specifically Jewish about getting married under a canopy (other religions do it too), and it doesn’t necessarily have to be religious in nature. These days there’s a bit of a trend for non-Jewish canopy weddings, and as long as it isn’t actually called a chuppah it doesn’t usually cause offence.

The chuppah is a gift from Luke to apologise for his behaviour towards Max. He knows he has been bit of a jerk about Lorelai’s wedding, and wants her to know he is still there for her as a friend. At the end of the scene, Luke and Lorelai are shown standing together under the chuppah as a sign that they will be married one day (when it happens in A Year in the Life, it will take place under a “canopy” beneath the sky, but not the chuppah).

It isn’t all that believable that the Luke we have got to know so far would actually make a chuppah for a non-Jewish wedding after getting the idea from a book (how did he know how to pronounce the word from reading it in a book?), and it seems awfully contrived.

Janet Jackson and Celine Dion

LORELAI: Hey, where were you after you broke off from the group?
MICHEL: Oh, I sat at a table with Janet Jackson and Celine Dion. Very nice guys.

Janet Jackson (born 1966) [pictured] is an American singer, songwriter, dancer, and actress who has been a prominent figure in popular culture for thirty years. The youngest of the famous Jackson family, she began her career on The Jacksons variety show in 1976, and appeared on other television shows in the 1970s and ’80s, including Fame, previously mentioned. After signing a record contract in 1982, she became a pop icon in the second half of the 1980s, and a sex symbol in the 1990s; she was one of the biggest recording artists of the 1990s. One of the best-selling musical artists, she holds the record for the most consecutive entries in the US Top Ten singles chart by a female artist, at 18. A long-time supporter of LGBT rights, she received special praise for her 1997 album The Velvet Rope, which spoke out against homophobia and embraced same-sex love. The albums’s second single, Together Again, is a tribute to the loved ones Jackson lost to AIDS, with a portion of sales going to AIDS research. She has received several awards for her charity work on behalf of AIDS education, and suicide prevention among gay youth. She is currently working on a documentary about transgender people.

Celine Dion (born 1968) is a Canadian singer. First becoming a star in the French-speaking world as a teenager, she gained international recognition in the 1980s when she won the 1982 Yamaha World Popular Song Festival, and the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest, where she represented Switzerland. In 1990, she released her first English-language album, Unison, establishing her as a star in North America and the rest of the English-speaking world. She has had several #1 hits, including My Heart Will Go On, and The Power of Love, and has won five Grammy Awards; Dion is the best-selling Canadian musical artist. She is a resident performer in Las Vegas, and is the highest-paid, receiving $500 000 per show. Michel getting along well with a drag queen dressed as Celine Dion seems to be the beginning of his obsession with the singer. Although Celine Dion does have a gay following, her inclusion seems to be in tribute to Yanic Truesdale, who plays Michel, as they are both French-Canadians.

Duluth

MAX: Anyway, he didn’t make it [Max’s brother trying to jump over a parking meter].
LORELAI: Ugh. Ouch. How drunk was he?
MAX: He claims he wasn’t drunk. He’s saying that the parking meters in Hartford are taller than the parking meters in Duluth, so he just miscalculated.

Duluth is a major port city in Minnesota on the shores of Lake Superior, with a population of over 85 000. Once an industrial city, its economy is now geared towards finance, retail, medicine, and tourism. (There is a Duluth in Georgia too, a suburb of Atlanta, but that seems less likely, as people usually identify the city they live in rather than the suburb).

It is not known whether Duluth is where Max is from originally, or if his brother moved there. Because of the superior way Max says, “Middle child”, it sounds as if Max is the eldest of three siblings. As Max says, “My brother”, instead of, “One of my brothers”, it suggests the youngest sibling is Max’s sister.

Duluth receives a slight mention in A Year in the Life: on one of the many wedding cakes that Sookie makes for Lorelai and Luke, there is a bridge with DULUTH printed on it. That might be a little callback to the preparations for Lorelai’s first planned wedding.

Ducks

LUKE: It’s not biologically natural for people to mate for life. Animals don’t mate for life. Well, ducks do, but who the hell cares what ducks do?

In fact ducks don’t mate for life – most duck species, such as mallards, are monogamous, but for only for a single breeding season (a possible foreshadowing of the length of Max and Lorelai’s bond).

Some sea ducks are thought to return to the same partner when they make their way to the breeding grounds, but this is hardly the same as what a human marriage is generally like. In a few species of stiff-tailed duck, polygamy is the norm, with one male mating with several females.

Furthermore, even within pair-bonded duck couples, promiscuity is reasonably common – they are socially monogamous, not necessarily sexually monogamous.

Kirk the Photographer

LORELAI: Wow Kirk, I didn’t know you were into photography.
KIRK: It’s my passion.

We learn here that Kirk is passionate about (and apparently fairly talented at) photography, which will later culminate in his project as a short film director/producer/actor. Lorelai hires Kirk as their wedding photographer for virtually nothing, making this another job for Kirk on Gilmore Girls – although he never actually gets to do it, and wouldn’t have been paid for it.

Guy Fawke’s Day

FRAN: After all, what’s more important than your wedding day?
LORELAI: Well, it ain’t Guy Fawkes Day.

Guy Fawke’s Day, or Bonfire Night, is an annual commemoration on November 5, observed primarily in Britain. It marks the events of November 5 1605, when Guy Fawkes was arrested guarding explosives beneath the House of Lords that were intended to blow up Parliament.

Beginning as a celebration that the plot to kill King James I had failed, it became an annual event that could at times be violent, and until the mid 19th century had strong anti-Catholic overtones. Today Guy Fawke’s Day is much more fun and peaceful, with public bonfires and fireworks displays. Guy Fawke’s Day was celebrated in colonial America until the American Revolution.

In A Year in the Life, Lorelai and Luke get married on November 5 – Guy Fawke’s Day, as an apparent callback to this scene.