Spastic Colon

KIRK: I need your help. I don’t know what to do. I’m shaking like a spastic colon.

A spastic colon, or colon spasm, describes the situation when the muscles around the small and large intestines spontaneously and suddenly contract, causing pain, cramping, bloating, and an urgent need to use the toilet.

This common condition is strongly associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is sometimes known as spastic colon, even though not everyone with IBS gets colon spasms, and not everyone with colon spasms has IBS. It is not always clear what causes it, although a change of diet, more exercise, managing stress, and sometimes medications may be offered as part of a treatment plan.

Kirk’s phrasing may suggest that he suffers from IBS himself.

Heather Mills

LORELAI: Hey, unh, Luke, uh, we need a couple of donuts, and, uh, some of those extra legs Heather Mills is sending over to Croatia.

Heather Mills (born 1968), English former model, businesswoman, and activist. She came to public attention in 1993 when her left leg had to be amputated below the knee after a motorcycle accident. However, she continued to model while wearing a prosthetic limb.

Mills set up a trust which sent prosthetic limbs to people (mostly children) who had lost limbs stepping on landmines. Because she went through several prosthetic legs while her stump healed, she also had the idea of delivering discarded prosthetic limbs to amputees in Croatia, the first ones arriving in 1994. They weren’t really “extra legs”, and they weren’t always legs either.

She married rock star Paul McCartney in 2000. They divorced acrimoniously in 2008.

Tiny Tim, Gimpy

TAYLOR: You would kick Tiny Tim’s crutch out from under him, wouldn’t you?

LUKE: If he asks for a free cup of coffee, gimpy’s going down.

Timothy “Tiny Tim” Cratchit, a character from the 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. In the story, Tim is the young son of Ebenezer Scrooge’s employee, Bob Cratchit, and a very sick boy who needs crutches to walk. Scrooge is shown that Tim will die in the future unless he receives medical help that Bob cannot afford on the salary he receives from Scrooge. This is one of several visions which cause Scrooge to reform, and the story states that Tiny Tim didn’t die, and that Scrooge became a second father to him (presumably paying for medical treatment).

Gimpy is a derogatory name for someone who walks with a limp. The slang dates to the 1920s, and may be a combination of gammy and limp, gammy being used to describe a bad leg.

Mad Cow Disease

LORELAI: Pale means sickly.

LUKE: Or sunscreen.

LORELAI: Or mad cow disease.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease, is an incurable and inevitably fatal neurodegenerative disease of cattle. It can be spread to humans if they eat meat from infected cows.

In humans, infection can result in Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD), also known as subacute spongiform encephalopathy or neurocognitive disorder due to prion disease, an invariably fatal degenerative brain disorder. Early symptoms include memory problems, behavioral changes, poor coordination, and visual disturbances. Later symptoms include dementia, involuntary movements, blindness, weakness, and coma. About 70% of people die within a year of diagnosis. Pale skin isn’t one of the symptoms.

There was an outbreak of mad cow disease in the UK which lasted from 1986 to 2015, reaching a peak in 1993. There were a few cases in North America from 1993 to 2012, which had an impact on the US beef industry.

Other Vocabulary Terms in This Episode

Soft Shoe

Lorelai says she could disrupt the town meeting further by doing a soft shoe.

Soft shoe dancing is a type of tap dancing performed in soft-soled shoes in a relaxed, graceful manner. It is particularly associated with vaudeville.

Bongos [pictured]

Rory says she could accompany Lorelai’s soft-shoe dance on the bongos.

Bongos are an Afro-Cuban percussion instrument consisting of a pair of small open bottomed hand drums of different sizes. They are struck with both hands.


Lane tells Jess that Rory has bunions from all the walking she has to do since he crashed her car.

A bunion, also known as a hallux valgus, is a deformity of the joint connecting the big toe to the foot. The big toe often bends towards the other toes and the joint becomes red and painful. The onset of bunions is typically gradual, and the causes are not clear, but tight shoes, high heel shoes, family history, and rheumatoid arthritis have been proposed as possible risk factors. Walking a lot doesn’t seem to be a problem (and indeed, Rory is quick to say she doesn’t actually have bunions).

Jan and Dean

LUKE: I know a little about cars, that was all gibberish.

KIRK: Oh, well, would you mind not telling people about this? I’ve cultivated a reputation as sort of a car aficionado and in reality, all I have is a Jan and Dean record.

Jan and Dean, rock duo consisting of William Jan Berry (1941-2004) and Dean Torrence (born 1940). In the early 1960s, they were pioneers of the California Sound and vocal surf music styles popularised by the Beach Boys. Their song “Surf City” (1963) was the first surf song to reach #1. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Several of their songs are about cars, including “Drag City” (1963), “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena” (1964), and “Dead Man’s Curve” (1964).

In 1966, Berry had a serious car accident on Dead Man’s Curve in Beverley Hills, two years after writing a song about it. He was in a coma for two months, and had to recover from brain damage and partial paralysis. He returned to the studio in 1967, almost a year to the day since his accident.

Bleeding Bowl

MICHEL: An eighteenth century bleeding bowl … When doctors bled patients, the blood had to go somewhere, no?

Michel refers to bloodletting, taking blood from a patient in order to prevent or cure illness. It is said to have been the most common medical treatment performed from antiquity until the late 19th century, for more than 2000 years. The main reason for its long-lived popularity is that it was very affordable, and almost anyone could perform it. Bloodletting is almost never used in modern medicine, and in the past, was almost overwhelmingly harmful to the patient.

A bleeding bowl is simply the bowl used to collect the blood during bloodletting, and this is what Michel bought at the auction. Notice in the picture that there is crescent piece missing from the bowl, to give the physician something to hold onto.

Cameos, Cod liver oil

EMILY: And what is wrong with that name [Society Matron’s League], Lorelai?

LORELAI: Nothing, it just sounds so serious. Brings to mind a room full of old ladies wearing black dresses and cameos and pushing spoonfuls of cod liver oil on the kids.

A cameo [pictured] refers to a piece of jewellery, usually a brooch, featuring a raised relief image, ususally of a face in classical style, against a contrasting background. They were very popular in the 19th century.

Cod liver oil is a dietary supplement made from the liver of cod fish. Like other fish oils, it contains omega-3 fatty acids, and the vitamins A and D. Historically, it was given to children because Vitamin D helps to prevent rickets.

Oddly, Lorelai does not say that she is smirking at the name of the Society Matron’s League because she knows of it from I Love Lucy, one of her favourite TV shows!

7 Up, Salad Water

RORY: Oh, a girl told me once that if your scalp is hurting from bleach, drink a 7 Up. It’s something to do with the bubbles.

LANE: The Kim household does not have soft drinks.

RORY: Well, what do you got?

LANE: Something called Salad Water imported from Korea. Believe me, it’s nothing like 7 Up.

7 Up, a lemon-lime flavoured soft drink owned by Dr Pepper, and distributed by Pepsi. It was created by Charles Leiper Grigg in St Louis in 1929, two weeks before the Wall Street stock market crash of that year. Originally called Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda, it contained lithium citrate, a mood stabiliser used to treat manic states and bipolar disorder. It became 7 Up in 1936, and nobody really knows why that name was chosen – some say that it refers to the seven original ingredients, some that it’s a coded reference to lithium, which has an atomic mass around 7.

7 Up won’t do anything to stop your scalp hurting after bleach (and if it’s the bubbles, wouldn’t any soft drink do the same thing?), but I’ve seen it recommended for stomach ache and the common cold, so there seems to be a lot of belief in it as a folk remedy. I suspect Rory is saying anything to distract Lane, and possibly hoping for a placebo effect.

Salad Water, or Water Salad [pictured], is water flavoured with green salad, produced by Coca-Cola in Japan. I’m not sure why the Kims have imported it from Korea when it’s a Japanese product – perhaps the Korean import-export company imports it from Japan, then exports it to the US.