FRANCIE: Paris wasn’t around. She was off yet again with the mystery man.

RORY: Jealous?

FRANCIE: Of Paris’s lobotomy victim? I think not.

Lobotomy, or leucotomy, a form of neurosurgical treatment for psychiatric or neurological disorder that involves severing connections in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. The surgery causes most of the connections to and from the prefrontal cortex, the anterior part of the frontal lobes of the brain, to be severed.

In the past, this treatment was used for treating psychiatric disorders as a mainstream procedure in some countries. The procedure was controversial from its initial use, in part due to a lack of recognition of the severity and chronicity of severe and enduring psychiatric illnesses, so it was claimed to be an inappropriate treatment.

The use of the procedure increased dramatically from the early 1940s and into the 1950s; by 1951, almost 20,000 lobotomies had been performed in the United States and proportionally more in the United Kingdom. More lobotomies were performed on women than on men: a 1951 study found that nearly 60% of American lobotomy patients were women. From the 1950s onward, lobotomy began to be abandoned as a psychiatric treatment.

Frontal lobe surgery, including lobotomy, is the second most common surgery for epilepsy to this day, and usually done on one side of the brain, unlike lobotomies for psychiatric disorder which were done on both sides of the brain.


RORY: He’ll like whatever you get him.

LORELAI: If I slip him a Quaalude, he’ll like whatever I get him.

Quaalude is the old brand name in the US for the sedative Methaqualone; Quaalude is a portmanteau word combining “quiet interlude”. It was so readily available in the US that it was handed out at semi-legal “stress clinics” in the 1970s and ’80s. The drug was discontinued in the US in 1985 due to concerns about recreational abuse of the drug, which gave it a very bad reputation.

Kirk’s Medicines

KIRK: Oh, nothing, just a little scratch.

LORELAI: Looks like a big scratch. Wow, Bactine, Neosporin, Mercurochrome – what’s with all the pharmacologicals?

Bactine: an antiseptic treatment containing lidocaine anaesthetic, first marketed in 1950.

Neosporin: broad spectrum antibiotic cream containing anaesthetic, approved for use in the US in 1971.

Mercurochrome: a topical antiseptic with a dye which stains the wound bright red. First developed in 1918, its distribution in the US was halted in 1998, due to concerns about it containing mercury. Somehow it is still available for sale in Stars Hollow in 2002! It is now manufactured in the US without any mercury.

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).