Rory has to learn a team sport and Emily offers her grandfather Richard to take her golfing at the club. Reluctantly, all parties agree. While Rory and Richard take on the greens Lorelai juggles a double wedding at the inn and her feelings about Rory’s new hobby.
Stand Out Scene:
Rory and Richard are walking back to the club after a round of golf and begin to chat..
Richard: I think traveling for a young girl is a very important thing. Your mother never got a chance to travel much.
Rory: I know. She talks about that all the time.
Richard: She does?
Rory: We’ve got a deal. When I graduate from high school we’re going to go backpacking through Europe together. You know, do the whole hostel thing. I just hope it really happens.
Richard: Well we’ll just have to make sure that it does.
So far the interactions between the extended Gilmore family has been isolated to Friday Night Dinners or a perceived intrusion by Emily—which is how this episode begins. Rory must learn a team sport and Emily volunteers Richard to teach Rory how to golf. Richard’s rebuttal that golf “can’t be taught in an afternoon” is overlooked and so Rory spends her Saturday at the club with her grandfather learning how to golf. All throughout this storyline I saw desperate pleas for connection—beginning with Emily’s insistence for Rory and Richard to connect over a round of golf.
As Richard and Emily wait for Rory to arrive on the morning in question Richard displays irritation at having to spend the day with his granddaughter because she’s 16 and “would rather be at the mall”. Richard is dubious that there’s anyway that he could connect with a 16-year old. Re-watching this episode it struck me that his reticence to spend time with Rory likely comes from a place of hurt from the loss of connection he experienced with Lorelai when she was Rory’s age. Perhaps Richard is thinking that if he couldn’t connect with his own daughter at 16 how could he be expected to connect with his granddaughter?
When Rory arrives, late, Emily tops the absurdity of the outing with a very ugly hat for Rory to wear. I think it’s interesting to note the effort that Rory has put forth. She’s wearing high-waisted khaki pants and a pastel button-up shirt; an uncharacteristic outfit for her. When Emily gives her the hat she is skeptical but accepts the hat and wears the hat at the club. In the budding stage of her relationship with her grandparents Rory is willing to step outside of herself and her comforts to try and embrace the culture of her grandparents.
Not much actual golfing takes place during this episode—what’s more important is what happens walking the greens of the course when Rory asks her grandfather about his work. Richard is initially hesitant to go into detail on his work, “I have a myriad of duties which would bore you greatly to hear about” (perhaps a product of Lorelai’s disinterest in his work?) but when Rory looks disappointed by this account he opens up to her about his work in the international division. It seems that up until this point Richard had used a preconceived notion of who Rory was and what would interest her to distance her from himself. He didn’t want to take her to the club because he thought she’d rather be at the mall, he didn’t tell her about his work because he thought it would bore her—Richard had already decided that she was not interested in him and that he held no responsibility for being isolated from his own granddaughter.
What seems to break apart these preconceptions is the talk of travel. When Richard sorrows that Lorelai never got to travel very much and finds out that she wishes she could have something shifts. His daughter shares his love of travel; he just didn’t know. And now he’s face-to-face with his granddaughter who shares his passion for travelling and he has a second chance for connecting. Rory, in her willingness to meet her grandfather where he was (literally and figuratively) has opened the door for connection with her grandfather. Though he was originally unhappy about having lunch with his granddaughter when Rory meets his friends at lunch he is proud to report that she’s going to Fez someday. His preconceptions have given way to actual connection.
Something that is heartbreaking in the new connection in Rory and Richard’s relationship is Lorelai’s reaction to it. She picks fights, isolating her daughter, unable to see how the addition of connection for Rory and Richard doesn’t mean a subtraction of connection between her and Rory. Rory and Richard’s relationship also works to highlight the absences of any substantial connection between Lorelai and her father. As Lorelai consults with Sookie she muses that it never occurred to her that Rory might want the life that she left. In Lorelai’s mind a relationship with Rory’s grandparents is in competition or a threat to their mother-daughter relationship.
For Lorelai and I think for most us, we live from a place of scarcity. We feel that there is finite time, love, and chance for connection—we feel that someone else’s prosperity leaves less for us. As a middle child I know that much of my childhood I felt that attention paid to one of my siblings meant less attention for me. The problem of living in this place of scarcity is that we live daily in fear that we won’t have enough. Like Richard we use our preconceptions to isolate ourselves from people we fear might hurt us, or we fear that investing our time into someone new means a loss for another. Instead, we need to live like Rory; putting on the ugly golfing hat and leaning into the discomforts of staying open to connection. It’s important to remember that Rory didn’t lessen her identity to connect with her grandfather-she took on part of his and made it her own. In being fully herself, Richard was able to see the ways that he had isolated her and to overcome his preconceptions to make a lasting connection with his granddaughter.
God who knit our very beings, we thank you for our individual uniqueness as well as our shared identity in you. Let us see the ways that we are isolating ourselves from connection with our neighbors and help us to live truly as ourselves so that we may grow lasting relationships. Amen.