We open to another Friday dinner. Emily tells Rory that Grampa is bringing Rory something special back from Prague. Rory goes on about how wonderful Prague must be. Lorelai is moving her food around her plate. Emily asks what she's doing. Lorelai is getting rid of the avocado from her salad. Emily asks when Lorelai started hating avocado. "Since the day I said, 'Gross, what is this?' And you said, 'Avocado.'" "I'm focusing on you, now," Emily says to Rory. Hee. Emily asks Rory about the Chilton Formal next week. Lorelai hasn't heard about any formal. Rory asks how Emily knew about it. Emily reads the Chilton newsletter. Lorelai asks, "Since when did you start getting the Chilton newsletter?" Emily figures since she's a major contributor to Rory's education, someone should be interested in the school. Lorelai says she also reads the newsletter. Emily quizzes Lorelai on the cover photo. Lorelai mumbles something about a happy privileged kid in plaid. Emily holds up the newsletter and shows the picture of an owl. "In plaid," Lorelai finishes. Emily says that the owl is endangered and Chilton is raising funds. She tells Rory that she gave a nice donation in her name for her. Lorelai says that she can handle the donations in Rory's name. Emily points out that Lorelai couldn't possibly handle the donations since she doesn't read the newsletter and therefore cannot know when the school is taking donations. "It's a private school. They're always taking donations." Good point, Lorelai. Lorelai changes the subject back to the formal. Rory looks down and says she wasn't planning on going. "Nonsense. Of course you're going," says Emily. Lorelai says that Rory doesn't have to go to a formal if she doesn't want to. "Well, I don't understand why she wouldn't want to go," Emily says. Lorelai: "I know you don't." Rory grabs her full glass and says, "I'm gonna go get another Coke." As soon as Rory's gone, Emily turns to Lorelai and says, "What did you say to her?" She says that if Rory doesn't want to go to a dance then it must be because of something Lorelai said. Lorelai promises that she never said anything about dances to Rory and that she'd just like to drop it. Lorelai goes back to her plate and moves a tomato for "fraternizing with the enemy."
In the car on the way home, Lorelai asks Rory why she didn't mention the dance. "'Cause I'm not going," Rory says. "Oh," says Lorelai, and asks why she's not going. "Because I hate dances," Rory says. Lorelai says that's a good answer. She points out that Rory's never been to a dance before, so she really doesn't have anything to compare it to, so she can't really know that she'll hate it. She says that Rory is, "basing all of [her] opinions on one midnight viewing of Sixteen Candles." And I must admit, I was terrified of my first school dance as I was basing all of my opinions on several viewings of Sixteen Candles and I didn't want to end up crying in a hallway after watching Jake Ryan go home with some blonde idiot. Except my Jake Ryan looked much more like Farmer Ted. But he still went home with some blonde idiot. At least in my memory. Whatever, he probably went home with three other boys to stay up late and play D&D, but you know, my terribly martyred teen memory makes it more painful than it probably was. Rory, however, has clearly thought about this dance, and offers her reasons as to why she'll hate it: "It'll be stuffy and boring and the music will suck and since none of the kids at school like me, I'll be standing in the back listening to 98°, watching Tristan and Paris argue over which one of them gets to make me miserable first." Lorelai says it might be, "All sparkly and exciting and [she'll] be standing on the dance floor listening to Tom Waits with some great-looking guy staring at [her] so hard that [she doesn't] even realize that Paris and Tristan have just been eaten by bears." Rory asks what guy could do that. Lorelai suggests the guy who stands around in their trees all night. Rory says that CuteDean "does not hang out in trees." Lorelai: "He bashed his head in a branch when I came out of the house too quickly." She says that she doesn't want Rory to miss out on a good time just because she's afraid. Rory asks what she's afraid of. Lorelai offers, "Of...asking Dean. Of, of him saying no. Of...going to a dance with a bunch of kids who haven't accepted you yet. Of dancing in public. Of finding out you should never be dancing in public." Rory asks Lorelai to stop, clearly because if she wasn't afraid of those things before, she is now. Lorelai says she worries about Rory not participating in school things not because she doesn't like them but because she's just too shy. Lorelai says that if Rory doesn't want to go because she really doesn't want to go and not because she's afraid, then she won't bring it up again. "I don't have a dress," Rory says quietly. Lorelai says she'll make her one. And they'll go get new shoes and earrings and get her hair done. "You won't think I'm an idiot?" Rory asks. "Depends on what hairstyle you choose," Lorelai smiles. Lorelai says that this dance could be great for Rory. We close in on Rory's face as we fade to the opening credits. My mother was smart enough to make sure she had as little as possible to do with my actual important first dance. She took me shopping to buy clothes and she had me tell her how to do my hair. She made sure that she hadn't picked anything out and hadn't cancelled out any of my choices so that if the dance didn't go well, she couldn't possibly be blamed. Consequently, for my first school dance I wore black pants with a giant pink sweater that came down to almost my knees with a white Oxford poking out underneath. I had a giant pink bow in my hair that tied back just the top part of my hair. I had a braid down the back, my hair all curled around the braid and an enormous bangs pouf on the top of my head. I had a big, pink, clunky bracelets that hurt my hand if I put any pressure on it. I wore black Mary Janes with thick white socks poking out. I pegged my jeans, even though they were already zippered and tapered at the ankles. I had giant pink hoop earrings in. I looked like Molly Ringwald's awkward cousin. Mom learned from that, though, as any pain I suffered at these school dances was blamed on friends, boys, or myself. Mom hired a dressmaker (we brought in the pattern and the fabric) and a hairstylist (photo courtesy of Sassy magazine) for prom. Smart Mom.
Man, I think my upstairs neighbor took my "dance to the opening credits" suggestion too literally. Girlie! Take off the clompy-clompy shoes! I'm dying down here.