Chang and Eng

PARIS (to Rory): Why don’t they just sew our sides together and rename us Chang and Eng?

Chang and Eng Bunker (1811-1879), Siamese-American conjoined twins of Chinese ancestry, previously mentioned. Born in modern-day Thailand (then called Siam), they were brought to the US in 1829, and became wealthy by exhibiting themselves in “freak shows”. After ten years, they retired from touring, became American citizens, bought slaves, married two sisters, and fathered twenty-one children between them. For many years, conjoined twins were called “Siamese twins” because of Chang and Eng’s birthplace.

“Hey, did you look up angina?”

SOOKIE: That woman [Fran] is gonna live forever.
LORELAI: Not necessarily. Hey, did you look up angina? I forgot to.
SOOKIE: Yeah, it’s nothing major.

Why would Lorelai need to look up angina? Her own father has it! Is she so selfish she’s just forgotten about that, or never bothered to find out what angina is? Or did the writer (Daniel Palladino) simply ignore the events of Forgiveness and Stuff (written by John Stephens)?

Sookie isn’t really correct that angina is “nothing major”. It doubles the risk of a cardiovascular event, and that risk rises with increasing age. For an elderly person, it can be of serious concern, and in fact Fran does die from a heart attack in a future season. Richard Gilmore also has a heart attack later on, and eventually dies too.

Mariah Carey’s Crack-Up

FRANCIE: Mariah Carey’s crackup.
LEM: Have you heard her fan message recently? She’s fine and is currently staring at a really beautiful rainbow.
IVY: Survivor, hello.

Mariah Carey (born 1969), American singer, songwriter, and actress. She rose to fame in 1990 with her self-titled debut album, and was the first artist to have her first five singles reach #1. She initially signed with Columbia, and married one of their executives in 1993 (they separated in 1997 and divorced in 1998).

In July 2001, after parting with Columbia and breaking up with her boyfriend of three years, Carey suffered a physical and mental breakdown. She began posting a series of disturbing messages on her official website, and displayed erratic behaviour on several promotional appearances, such as doing an unscripted striptease on MTV. The messages on her website spoke of being drained and burnt out by the music industry, and needing a break.

Carey was admitted to a hospital in Connecticut for treatment for two weeks, then remained absent from the public for some time. In late August (perhaps 4-6 weeks before the events of this episode), Carey posted an audio message on her website thanking fans for their support during her recovery.

In the message she told her fans, I just want to say thank you so much for all the letters and everything … as I speak to you, I’m looking at the most beautiful rainbow that is going across the entire sky, and I love you much! Thanks. Bye. She took the rainbow as a positive omen, especially as her 1999 album was called Rainbow.

Recently, Mariah Carey has revealed that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the time of hospitalisation, but it took her some time to accept it. It must be said that Gilmore Girls was never particularly sensitive on the subject of mental health issues.

Glaucoma

EMILY: Focus the picture Lorelai … It’s hurting my eyes … It’s like I have glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases in which the vision becomes clouded due to damage to the optic nerve. Vision loss and blindness can ensue if not treated.

We discover that Lorelai has had her camera for six years, so since 1995, and still can’t focus it.

Cantaloupe

[Lorelai and Sookie are sitting down drinking coffee.]
LORELAI: I think I know what an aneurysm feels like before you have it.
SOOKIE: Like a baseball the size of a cantaloupe in your head.

The North American cantaloupe (C. melo var reticulatus) is actually a muskmelon; it has orange flesh and a light grey rind with a “net like” appearance. It is different from the European cantaloupe (C. melo var cantalupensis), whose rind is grey-green and ribbed. Cantaloupes are also known as rockmelon, sweet melon, or spansek in different part sof the world.

This is the second time that aneurysms have been mentioned – Emily said she thought Lorelai might have given her one in Cinnamon’s Wake.

Rory Invites Dean to Dinner at Her Grandparents’ House

While Dean is changing the water bottle for Lorelai on the back porch, Rory comes out to talk to him. (Apparently the Gilmores always drink bottled water – I don’t know if the Stars Hollow water supply is undrinkable, or if Lorelai and Rory prefer the taste of bottled water, or drink it for health reasons, or some other reason. Much of the Connecticut water supply has chromium-6 in it, the cancer-causing agent that featured in the 2000 biographical film Erin Brockovich, but the official statement is that it is at levels too low to be dangerous. The Gilmores may be playing it safe, especially as eleven other cancer-causing agents have been detected in the Connecticut water supply at levels above the legal limits).

Rory invites Dean to come with her to the special dinner her grandparents are giving in her honour. Emily told Rory she could “invite her friends” to the dinner, probably meaning her “friends” from Chilton (Emily doesn’t know that Rory is currently at outs with the few friends she has made at school). She almost certainly did not mean Rory to invite Dean, who she last saw taking Rory to a school dance, which ended in disaster when the pair of them fell asleep and didn’t get home until dawn.

Dean has the good sense to point out that Rory’s grandparents probably aren’t madly keen to see him again, but eventually accepts Rory’s invitation to please her (their relationship has only just re-kindled, and he probably doesn’t want to start off by saying no to her).

The scene is shot almost like a proposal – Dean is kneeling at Rory’s feet with the water bottle, while she holds out her hands in supplication, as if ready to receive a ring. It’s a reminder that Lorelai never got this traditional down-on-your-knees proposal from Max. If you look at how happy and excited Rory appears at the thought of taking Dean to her dinner, it’s in stark contrast to the sad, anxious face Lorelai has when we see her and Max getting engaged over the phone.

The show seems to be saying, “This is what you deserve, Lorelai: this is how happy you should be”.

Zelda Fitzgerald

RORY: Did you pick out your ring?
LORELAI: Yup, he’s gonna surprise me with it tomorrow.
RORY: Twenties Deco?
LORELAI: Supposedly ripped right off of Zelda Fitzgerald’s cold dead hand.

Zelda Fitzgerald, born Zelda Sayre (1900-1948) was an American socialite, writer, artist, and the wife of author F. Scott Fitzgerald. The couple became icons of the Jazz Age, and her husband dubbed Zelda “the first American flapper”.

The Fitzgeralds’ marriage deteriorated, and Zelda was admitted to psychiatric care, diagnosed as schizophrenic. She spent the rest of her life in and out of sanatoriums. Like Amy Sherman-Palladino, Zelda studied ballet as a child, and as an adult, became obsessed with it again to the detriment of her health.

Lorelai is joking about her engagement ring being Zelda Fitzgerald’s, just that it is from the 1920s. It is telling that she links her engagement ring with a woman who had a famously disastrous marriage.

Typhoid Mary

RORY: But … what’s wrong with her [Madeline]?
LOUISE: Nothing’s wrong with her, Mary.
RORY: Mary? Oh no, not this Virgin Mary thing again.
LOUISE: Not Virgin. Typhoid.

Typhoid Mary was the name given to the Irish-born American Mary Mallon (1869-1938), the first identified person in the United States to be a carrier of typhoid fever without displaying any symptoms. She is believed to have infected an estimated 51 people, at least three of whom died, while working as a cook. As she used fake identities and was able to give authorities the slip several times, the numbers could be far higher, with some estimating that she may have killed over 50 people.

Mary spent the last 23 years of her life in forced quarantine, as she refused to stop working as a cook, even after being told she was a carrier of disease – she would not accept it. Typhoid Mary is a name given to anyone who unknowingly spreads disease or other undesirable traits.

Louise means that they intend to “quarantine” Rory by ignoring her, showing that she and Madeline are loyal to Paris, even when she is being unfair.

Siamese Twins

TRISTAN: I did mine [my locker] up.
RORY: Yeah, I saw that. The naked picture of the Siamese twins is particularly classy.

Siamese twins is the former name for conjoined twins – identical twins who are born fused together. The most famous pair of conjoined twins was Chang and Eng Bunker [pictured], who were born in Siam (now Thailand) in the 19th century. Because of the conditions’s rarity, conjoined twins were called Siamese twins after Chang and Eng for some time.

Although it is sometimes possible to separate conjoined twins, such surgery carries significant risks, and can even be fatal. Because of this, some twins choose to remain conjoined, and in such cases, quality of life can be better than you might imagine.