Ennui

LORELAI: Michel, we’ve been over this, we all cover the phone, that includes you.
MICHEL: Don’t misunderstand. I want to answer it, I truly do, but today, today I am suffering from ennui.

Ennui is the French word for boredom and lethargy, with connotations of a melancholy world-weariness, and the jaded feeling of having life a little too easy. It has a particular resonance in twentieth century existentialist literature, such as by Kafka, Sartre, or Albert Camus, which often centres on a protagonist who drifts through life in the grip of ennui, angst, and alienation.

Lorelai has absolutely no patience with this, and diagnoses Michel as simply being tired, for which she prescribes (of course) massive amounts of coffee.

Rubbing alcohol

(Lorelai and Rory ring the doorbell. Emily answers the door.)
EMILY: Hello, hello, hello.
LORELAI: Wow, Mom, hi. (to Rory) Uh, check the rubbing alcohol.

Rubbing alcohol is an American term for those types of alcohol, such as methylated spirits, which are used as an antiseptic in domestic and industrial uses. They are often used as cleaning products, and their name comes from the fact that in the past, they were used in the same way we use heat rubs, to relieve pain and stiffness.

Lorelai appears to think her mother seems so cheerful she must be drunk, but in fact you can’t drink rubbing alcohol – they put bitter poisons in it to stop people abusing it that way. It would taste awful, and you would most likely become very sick before you got drunk. Lorelai is just joking though.

Parsing for subtext

LANE: He [Henry] left a message. I listened to it eight-and-a-half times, but then my mom came home and I had to erase it. But I was so panicked that I broke it, which is better because now all evidence that a boy called me is in the trash.
RORY: Eight and a half times.
LANE: Well, it was a good message the first couple times. Then I started parsing it for subtext.

To parse a sentence means to analyse it by reducing it to its grammatical elements, while subtext is the underlying meaning of a particular text. In other words, Lane began picking apart everything Henry said to search for hidden meanings.

Graham Cracker and Broiler

JACKSON: Or take a graham cracker, spread a little [jam] on it, break up a chocolate bar, throw it in the broiler for a couple of minutes, and you’re gonna be singing show tunes all evening.

A graham cracker is a type of cracker which is made from coarse wholemeal flour and sweetened with honey; it is very similar to a digestive biscuit. Graham crackers were inspired by the teachings of the Rev. Sylvester Graham, who preached the importance of a wholefood vegetarian diet – one of the first vegetarian movements in the US. The crackers were first marketed to Graham’s followers, but he didn’t invent them or profit from them. They are now made by a variety of brands, and can also be home made.

A broiler is the American word for the grill on the top of the stove – in American usage, grilling means the heat comes from below, while broiling means the heat is coming from above.

So if you would like to try out Jackson’s recipe, take a digestive biscuit, spread a bit of home made raspberry and peach jam on it, cover it in a broken up chocolate bar, and pop it under the grill for two minutes until the chocolate melts.

Jam

JACKSON (to Lorelai): Yeah, and I also brought some of my raspberry peach jam. I think you’re gonna like it. Put it on ice cream.

This might confuse some non-Americans, because one of the earliest Americanisms often learned is that in the US they call jam “jelly”, and jelly is “Jell-O“. So what does Jackson mean by “jam”?

The US Food and Drug Administration has some very clear rules on what constitutes “jelly” or “jam”. Jelly is made from the clear juices of fruit, then boiled with sugar and pectin so that it sets into a spreadable consistency. Despite the name, it doesn’t have gelatine in it, and is much sweeter than the fruit jellies made in the UK that are eaten with meat (eg bramble jelly). For some reason, jelly is considered a food more suitable for children, or is more popular with children.

Jam is made from boiling mashed fruit with sugar until it is able to set into a spreadable consistency (it’s basically what everyone calls jam). It may not need pectin to make it set, as many fruits already have pectin in them. For some reason, it considered more suitable for adults than jelly, or is more popular with adults. It is usually of a runnier consistency than jelly, which is why Jackson suggests using his raspberry and peach jam as a topping for ice cream.

In Star Crossed Lovers and Other Strangers, we learned that Jackson planned to begin making his own jams, preserves, and tomato sauce – the jam he gives Lorelai must be an example of what he has made so far.