The Cheshire Cat

LADAWN: Welcome to the Cheshire Cat.
LORELAI: … Okay, she’s named the place after an Alice in Wonderland character. This is my worst nightmare.

As Lorelai says, the Cheshire Cat is a character in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, previously discussed and frequently referenced. The cat likes to engage in amusing philosophical conversations, and is known for its distinctive grin; even when it disappears, as it does a few times, the grin will be the last thing to vanish.

The character is a personification of the English saying, “to grin like a Cheshire cat”, meaning that the person has a very wide smile. The saying dates to the 18th century, but its origins are obscure. Cheshire was known for its dairy industry, with milk and cream making cats happy, so that’s one possible explanation.

Presumably LaDawn chose the name of her B&B after her large cat, Sammy. In real life there are numerous B&Bs in the Portsmouth area to cater to the tourist trade. Scenes at the Cheshire Cat were filmed in the same set used for the Black White Read Bookstore.

“Lawyer up”

LORELAI: Why are you here?
CHRISTOPHER: You’re gonna force me to lawyer up, officer.

In the US, to “lawyer up” is an informal phrase meaning to exercise your right to have legal representation while answering a police officer’s questions.

Christopher is telling Lorelai to back off on asking him questions about why he is there (even though that’s surely a reasonable thing to ask, given the circumstances).

Third Time’s a Charm

RORY: You’ve met him [Todd] twice.
LANE: But the third time’s a charm.

Third times a charm is the American version of the old saying, Third time lucky. It means that if you have failed in your first two attempts, you will probably succeed on the next one.

The origins of the proverb may be ancient, as the sacred power of things in threes is older than the Trinity, and can be found in Celtic magic and even fairy tales; it is a common idea in many cultures around the world.

“Riding a bike”

SOOKIE: What on earth were you thinking?
LORELAI: That I could still skate.
SOOKIE: It’s not like riding a bike you know.

Sookie is referring to the common phrase that a skill that is once learned and never forgotten is “just like riding a bike”.

Opinions vary as to whether ice skating is just like riding a bike – some people say they easily picked it up after decades off the ice, just a little wobbly to begin with. Others find that after a long break from skating, they have no idea how to balance any more and have gone back to beginner status. Sore legs and feet are common, just as Lorelai is experiencing.

“Of the manor born”

LOUISE: Who’s the dish? … He’s not of the manor born, that’s for sure.

Of the manor born means that someone is from an upper class or wealthy family. It is a common mishearing or deliberate pun on To the manner born, which means that someone is familiar from birth with a particular set of customs or behaviours.

The phrase is a quote from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which says, “But to my mind, though I am native here / And to the manner born, it is a custom / More honour’d in the breach than the observance.”

Louise likes to make literary quotes to show her intelligence, but she only chooses the most hackneyed, and in this case doesn’t even use it correctly.