Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic

RORY: You’re still doing okay?
JESS: Doing my reading, writing, and arithmetic.
RORY: And you’re still going, right?

Reading, writing, and arithmetic, the basic skills taught in schools, and often used as a shorthand to refer to schooling or education in general. They have been referred to together as far back as the writings of St Augustine, in the 4th century.

Jess has not shared with Rory that he is barely (or ever?) going to school any more, showing that their relationship is not as close as Rory might think. From comments by Lorelai, it seems as if Rory only sees Jess on weekends. This is really different from when she was with Dean, but she is in her senior year of high school, and may not have as much time to spend with a boyfriend.

Another difference between her relationship between Jess and Dean is that Rory nagged Dean quite a bit about his academic ambitions, and encouraged him to apply to college. Yet Rory only tentatively asks Jess whether he is regularly attending school, and makes a diffident offer to help him with his work if needed.

Has she learned to be a bit more hands off, or does she lack the confidence to question Jess the way she would have with Dean? Jess is very good at keeping people at an emotional distance, and it looks as if he has done it even with his own girlfriend.

“I’m an island”

LUKE: I’m an island.
LORELAI: Luke, I’m sorry about all this, but I’m not anticipating the inn catching fire ever again, so it’s a one time only thing, okay?

Luke refers to the famous quote, “No man is an island” from the poem “Meditation VII” by John Donne. He may also be thinking of the 1965 Simon & Garfunkel song, “I Am a Rock”, which says, “I am a rock, I am an island”, written from the point of view of someone isolated and emotionally detached.

Of course, for all his reclusive ways, Luke is never an island, he is always there for his community. And of course Lorelai always wants him to do “just this one thing” for her, repeatedly. He never says no.

“My brother William”

POE 1: I’m sure it was ’32. I’m sad to say it was the same year my older brother William passed away.
POE 2: Okay, that’s not right either, Fred.

Edgar Allen Poe had an older brother named William Henry Leonard Poe, born in 1807. He went by his middle name, Henry. Henry Poe died in 1831, a few months after Edgar Allan Poe left West Point.

The first Poe has once again got things muddled.


MANAGER: [to Luke]Hey. Saw you jawboning with our boy there.

Jawboning, informal American English meaning to influence or pressure by strong persuasion, usually used in a political context. Luke wasn’t really doing anything like that with Jess, so either the manager is being very protective of his star worker, or he is confusing the word with jawing, meaning “to talk, to scold”.

“I’ve been a teacher for ten years”

MAX: I must say, I’ve been a teacher for ten years now, and it wasn’t until today I realized, it must be really hard to be a girl.

Max became a teacher in 1993, and somehow the needs and challenges of female students were never discussed during his training. Max has a sister, has had several girlfriends, and almost became Rory’s stepfather – yet somehow he has never considered that some things might be harder for girls.

“I always meant to call you”

LORELAI: I always meant to call you, but I’m not good at calling when a call is really necessary. And then, you know, uh, if you don’t call for awhile, it gets harder to call, and then after awhile, it feels like it’s too late to call, and so you don’t, although you always know that you should’ve called, and I should’ve called … I never really explained what happened … I don’t think I didn’t love you. I think . . . I think I was not ready to get married.

It’s unclear from Lorelai’s explanation to Max whether she means that she never phoned after jilting him to apologise or check he was okay, or whether she simply took off on the road trip with Rory and never told him anything at all. Lorelai seems a little unsure as to whether she ever loved Max, but she is surely correct that she was not ready to get married.

“I’ve got the good kid”

LORELAI: I’ve got the good kid.

Lorelai says this to herself, after accidentally overhearing Rory tell Paris she is still a virgin. It’s a line that infuriates many fans, and which Lauren Graham strenuously argued against. However, it doesn’t seem out of character for Lorelai, who has a lot of anxiety about Rory losing her virginity. The line comes to seem rather ironic in later seasons.

Afterschool Special

RORY: Okay, so, were you safe?
PARIS: Yes, it was a regular afterschool special.

ABC Afterschool Special, television anthology series that aired on ABC from 1972 to 1997, usually in the late afternoon on weekdays. Most episodes were dramatically presented situations, often controversial, of interest to children and teenagers. Several episodes were either in animated form or presented as documentaries. Topics included illiteracy, substance abuse and teenage pregnancy. The series won 51 Daytime Emmy Awards.

None of the episodes depicted a young couple having a sexual relationship, but “A Question About Sex” (1990), did advocate for teens to be informed about sex education.

Rory listens to Paris’ concerns about losing her virginity with a fair amount of sensitivity, and checks that she and Jamie practised safe sex, that it was fully consensual, and that Jamie treated Paris with respect. I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that this reflects the sex education training that Rory has received from Lorelai.