Sock Hops and Clambakes

PARIS: I’d really like to get an ‘A’ on this assignment, and in order to do that I’m afraid you’re gonna have to discuss your sock hops and your clambakes some other time, okay?

A sock hop [pictured] was an informal sponsored dance event for teenagers in the 1940s and ’50s, commonly held at high school gyms and cafeterias, and often as a fundraiser. The name comes from the fact that dancers were asked to remove their shoes so as not to damage the varnished floor of gymnasiums. The name was dropped once sneakers became common, so shoes could be worn. What we’d call a “school dance” today.

A clambake is a traditional method of cooking shellfish, such as lobsters, clams, and mussels, by steaming them over seaweed in a pit oven. Vegetables such as potatoes, onion, carrot and corn can be added. Usually held as festive occasions along the New England coast.

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.

Blue Book Laws

JESS: I’m not really familiar with the blue book laws in this town, so you can be talking about a lot of things. Dropping a gum wrapper, strolling arm in arm with a member of the opposite sex on a Sunday.

Jess seems to have confused two different things and put them together (perhaps deliberately).

Blue laws are laws designed to restrict activities on a Sunday, such as banning certain retail activities eg buying alcohol. In Puritan times, they were very strict when Connecticut was a colony, which might be what Jess is implying – that Stars Hollow is still stuck in the colonial past. Examples of such old timey strictness include not allowing people to run anywhere, or to walk in their gardens on a Sunday. It’s not common, but some towns in the US do have their own blue laws, even today.

Project Blue Book was the code name for the study of UFOs by the US Air Force from 1952 to 1969. Did Jess make a simple error, a Freudian slip of the tongue, or is he saying that he feels like an “alien” being studied by the townsfolk of Stars Hollow?

(I have actually seen people make this same error in regard to “blue book laws”, so I don’t discount the idea that the writer, Daniel Palladino, may have had the same misunderstanding).

Field Trip

MIA: Well, I must say that was quite exciting.
LORELAI: A little disturbing. I think the whole town needs a field trip.

A field trip is an excursion by a group of people away from their normal environment, most usually used in the context of education (what might be called a school trip or school tour in other countries).

Lorelai seems to be saying the whole town needs to get out of town, so they can learn how other people live. It’s the closest she gets to saying they should try to see things from Jess’ point of view, and she does seem to be bothered by how the town reacted to him.

Slacker

JESS: Huh.
LUKE: That’s ‘Hello, nice to meet you’ in slacker.

“Slacker” is a term for someone who habitually avoids work or effort (Jess actually works at the diner before and after school every day, so can hardly be considered a literal slacker).

The phrase gained a renewed popularity following its use in the 1985 film Back to the Future, when Marty McFly and his father are referred to as slackers (and a group of teen delinquents in Back to the Future II, 1989). The 1990 comedy film Slacker, directed by Richard Linklater, about a group of twenty-something bohemians and misfits, gave it wider circulation. The 1996 comedy Clerks, directed by Kevin Smith, is regarded as the ultimate slacker cult film.

Subsequently, during the 1990s it became widely used to refer to a subculture of apathetic youth who were uninterested in political or social causes, a stereotype of Generation X. It often has connotations of an educated underachiever, or someone who is aimless in life, sometimes for philosophical or nonconformist reasons. This seems to be what Luke has in mind.

Chateau Mimsy

MENA: I still say we approach Chateau Mimsy.
AVA: That space is too small, Mena.

A fictional venue, presumably in or around Hartford.

“Mimsy” is a word made up by English writer Lewis Carroll, previously discussed, from his 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, previously discussed.

The word appears in a nonsense poem called Jabberwocky, which Alice reads in a book in the dreamscape of the looking-glass world. It seems unintelligible until she holds it up to a mirror, and can then read it. Even then, the poem is only vaguely understandable, filled with invented words. Jabberwocky is considered to be one of the greatest nonsense poems in the English language – playful and whimsical, with many of its words entering the lexicon.

The first stanza reads:

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Later in the novel, the character of Humpty Dumpty gives Alice an explanation of some of the poem’s vocabulary. His definition of “mimsy” is that it is a cross between “flimsy” and “miserable” – a strong suggestion that Chateau Mimsy is not only too small, but also dingy and cheerless!

There has already been a bed and breakfast named after a Lewis Carroll character – The Cheshire Cat in Portsmouth, where Lorelai and Rory stayed on their road trip. Apparently venues with names from Lewis Carroll are a feature of the Gilmore Girls universe.

Fat Farm

LADY 2: Janet just got out of Rainbow Hills two days ago.
LORELAI: Rehab?
LADY 1: Fat farm.

Even though a “fat farm” sounds like a place you go to in order to gain weight, it’s actually an old fashioned word for a residential weight loss program. It seems like a word they would use on a sit-com from the 1970s – Oscar and Felix from The Odd Couple went to a fat farm in one episode. Why is everything so dated in the world of Gilmore Girls?

The Hartford debutantes seem to be going to extremes for their debut, enrolling in weight loss programs, like Janet, and getting nose jobs, like Libby. Lucky Rory already looks perfect, so she doesn’t need to do anything except show up.

The Compact Oxford English Dictionary

RORY: The Compact Oxford English Dictionary!
CHRISTOPHER: I promised you I’d get it. I’m just sorry it took so long.
RORY: That’s okay.
CHRISTOPHER: On the bright side, this is the new edition. If I’d gotten you the old one, you wouldn’t have the word ‘jiggy’ in it.
RORY: Thank you. I love it, I’m gonna go look things up right now.
CHRISTOPHER: Wait, wait. [hands her magnifying glass]

The Compact Oxford English Dictionary, previously discussed as Rory’s dream book, which Christopher couldn’t buy her six months ago because his credit card was declined.

This time he is able to buy her the 2001 edition, which contains the American slang word “jiggy”. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “Excitedly energetic or uninhibited, often in a sexual manner; to get jiggy: to engage in sexual activity”.

The Compact Oxford English Dictionary has such fine print that it comes with its own reading glass.

County Fair

LORELAI: [A debutante ball] is like animals being up for bid at the county fair

A county fair is an North American term for an agricultural show, with the main focus being on livestock and animal husbandry, although other types of contests and entertainment will usually be on offer also. A county fair is one organised by a particular county, in contrast with a state fair, and will generally be smaller and more rural in character.