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The Telefile
What <i>Pan Am</i> Taught Us About The ’60s This Week

With its heavy-handed moralizing and weepy melodrama, last night's Pan Am outing felt more like an afterschool special designed to teach us that Racism Is Bad than a jaunty primetime series about high-flying stewardesses. But we were so happy to see Gaius "Smash" Charles back on our TV screens that we forgave "Truth or Dare" for a lot of its flaws. The former Dillon Panther running back played Joe, a Navy serviceman whose unit gets a free trip home aboard the Clipper Majestic after having spent the past six months patrolling the oceans in those floating sardine cans known as submarines. After landing in New York, Joe scored an invite to a swinging party at Maggie and Laura's hip Village pad and crashed on the couch when Maggie went home with her Village Voice shutterbug beau.

The next day, the endlessly naive Laura got her first taste of Northern non-hospitality when the landlord told her to get rid of Joe and then watched him get jumped by two bigots at Grand Central Station for daring to share a walk 'n talk with a lovely young white woman. Yeah, none of this was what you'd call subtle, but Charles delivered a winning performance throughout -- we weren't at all surprised that Laura fell for him by the end of their one day together. And while one love affair began, another ended: Kate's Yugoslavian lover Niko got nabbed by the CIA, which eventually persuaded him to work as a double agent thanks in large part to Kate's impassioned plea that he do his part to help his native country change. Also, the slow-burning romance that's clearly been building between Dean and Colette got a little more heated this week as the Clipper Majestic's pilot allowed his best stewardess to cross another item off her Bucket List (did they call it that in the '60s?) by taking the controls of the plane for a few moments. So, the writers have basically abandoned the whole Bridget storyline, right? Just as well -- Colette's a much better catch anyway.

In the '60s... Supposed Presidential Malapropisms Made For Great Party Jokes
Curious as to why a party-hearty Laura -- a bit giggly after a few too many sloe gin fizzes -- yelled out "I am a jelly doughnut!" in the midst of her and Maggie's party? Well, in the months following JFK's famous Berlin trip (which Pan Am covered in its third episode) rumors flew that he had botched that speech's most iconic line, "Ich bin ein Berliner." As the legend goes, that phrase actually translates to "I am a jelly doughnut," rather than "I am a citizen of Berlin" (the confusion stems from the fact that a "Berliner" can also refer to a specific kind of jelly doughnut served in Germany -- although the pastry goes by other names as well). Had Kennedy been a German native, "Ich bin Berliner" would have been the preferred phrase; in his specific case, the "ein" was required in order to indicate that he was not labeling himself a literal Berlin citizen, but rather that he stood in solidarity with them (read this interview with Michael Jennings, the chairman of Princeton University's German department, for a more in-depth explanation). Despite having been debunked, the myth of Kennedy's "flub" has persisted from the '60s to today. Looks like Laura needs to spend some time in the Pan Am language center, stat.

In the '60s... "Truth or Dare" Was Still a Popular Party Game to Play With Your Girlfriends
Taking a liquor break while docked at the Barajas Airport in Madrid, the Clipper Majestic's four stewardesses prepare for their upcoming sailor-filled flight by playing a few rounds of that old (apparently really old!) party game "Truth or Dare." Among the dishy details that we get to overhear: the Village Voice's Mike Ruskin has "very impressive credentials," Colette can tie a cherry stem with her tongue (make a mental note of that, Dean!) and Laura revealed that she allowed that Life photographer to take a few shots of her in the buff so that she could "embrace my sexuality on my terms." Wait... we thought they cancelled The Playboy Club?

In the '60s... Hangover Elixirs Were Extra Gross
Here's another reason why Joe is the perfect boyfriend: when Laura wakes up from her wild night of debauchery with a wicked headache and sandpaper mouth, there's her temporary houseguest waiting for her with his magical hangover cure -- a Red Water Special. ("Because it looks like red water!" That's an ad slogan you can take to the bank.) For the record, this strange brew consists of eggs, hot sauce, orange juice and molasses. You could try making this at home, but we'd advise against it.

In the '60s... Couples Still Argued Over What Movie To See
Looking for an afternoon activity to kill a couple of hours, Joe suggests that he and Laura take in a picture show. She scans the listings and comes across a movie entitled Under the Yum Yum Tree, which he immediately shoots down based on the title alone. "You don't even know what it's about," she protests, to which he replies, "I know what it's called." And that's how we end up with such boring movie titles as In Time and J. Edgar. (Incidentally, Joe and Laura may have dodged a bullet by not checking out Yum Yum Tree. Although it was a box office hit in '63, this sex comedy received mixed notices from critics and star Jack Lemmon hated the movie, as he confessed to Larry King decades later.)

In the '60s... People Talked Like Han Solo Two Decades Before The Empire Strikes Back
We couldn't have been the only ones that got a Han/Leia vibe when Kate said "Me too" in response to Niko's unspoken "I love you." (Although it's always possible that he was going to say something else like, "Spot me a $20 for cab fare" or "Hey, can you feed the cat while I'm gone?") Granted, "I know" is a way cooler way to tell someone you love them and that's why none of us will ever be as awesome as the galaxy's best smuggler.

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