CHARACTERS: Lorelai, Rory, Dean, Luke, Lane, Emily
SUMMARY: It's Halloween in Stars Hollow.
DISCLAIMER: Gilmore Girls doesn't belong to me.
"Trick or Treat or Traditions"
by Lanny Grant
Stars Hollow was a stage. Autumn leaves danced across the sidewalks, performing for the passing pedestrians who were bundled up for winter. Halloween was unusually crisp this year. Gray clouds gathered above main street where cutouts of ghosts saying "boo" and black cats on the attack hung in storefront windows. Orange crepe paper was tied around the columns of the white hued stores with blue-painted roofs. Plump pumpkins sat on the painted porches. Stars Hollow, population 9,000 plus, was founded in 1779. The Colonial architecture of its beginnings sat snugly along side the modern innovations -- the past and present happily coexisting, much like Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter, namesake and best friend, Rory (Lorelai Leigh Gilmore for short.)
Lorelai cupped her cup of coffee, feeling it's warmth through her red cotton mittens. Rory walked beside her, passing Ms. Patty's Dance Studio, which was closed. Rory was apple-cheeked, sipping her own cup of joe -- one of many habits she had acquired from her mother, this being the most addictive. Both took in lungfuls of the ice water air, pulling their coats close over their costumes. Rory's long brown hair was tucked under a black beret. (Lorelai affectionately referred to Rory's hair as "Hippie Hair." "If we ever need a hair double for Edie Breckel, we have it," Lorelai would say.) Lorelai's fresh, pretty face was sandwiched between Princess Leia buns. They were headed towards their second home, Luke's Diner, for a bite before the evening festivities -- trick or treating.
"I think they could," Lorelai said.
"Why would they?" Rory responded. "No one has any interest in seeing you intake any more caffeine."
"These scientist guys, they do it all the time. They're making grapes without seeds. Breeding oranges with other round, orange fruit. I think they can make a coffee bean with twice the caffeine."
"You need help," Rory stated.
"What I need is all the coffee scientists to get together and breed a super race of a double caffeinated coffee bean. That way, I could drink less," Lorelai responded.
"I thought you loved coffee."
"I do! I live for coffee. I die for coffee. If I was on a desert island, I would want you, Prince and a coffee maker..."
"What happened to Scott Baio?"
"'Charles in Charge.' After that fiasco, I had to vote him off the island. She said with a sly smile, "plus...nothing is sexier than Prince."
"You need to be watching less 'Purple Rain," Rory said. "Why would you want less coffee? I thought Lorelai Gilmore was ninety percent water, ten percent caffeine."
"I don't like peeing eighteen times a day, as crazy as that sounds. I told myself along time ago seventeen would be my limit."
"It's good to have goals," Rory said. "Do you really think they have coffee scientists?"
"They have scientists for everything," Lorelai exclaimed. "If they don't have coffee scientists, they need to pull some of the guys off NASA detail and devote them to my super race of double caffienated coffee beans."
"The final frontier," Rory said.
"They've already landed on the moon and discovered life on Mars. What else is there to do up there?" Lorelai asked.
Rory laughed. Coffee was the perfect summation of her mother's personality: in small sips -- warm and satisfying, with a little kick. In big gulps -- the heat would kill you if the overload of caffeine didn't do it first.
Luke's Diner was unadorned in Halloween fun much to the chagrin of Lorelai as she and Rory entered. The diner was a converted hardware store. Weather-battered John Deere signs and age-old ads for motor oil hung on the walls -- all in memory of Luke's father who once owned the town-favorite hardware store. Rory took a seat in a booth. Lorelai walked to the front counter. Luke, with his scruffy three day growth and backwards baseball cap, refilled coffee cups and cleared empty plates. Luke looked up. Lorelai smiled the smile that could melt the polar ice caps. As usual, Luke's sour-puss face betrayed no emotion; although his deep affection for Lorelai and Rory often slipped through despite his best efforts to remain gruff and aloof. He walked to her.
"You were just in here," he said, his voice even.
"That was for lunch." Luke looked over her shoulder to Rory. She smiled, somewhat embarrassed of her red cheeks and nose. "Kid needs nutrition," he said. "Hamburgers have all the basic food groups," Lorelai stated. "Besides, I come in here for the good cheer and the Ace Hardware-esque atmosphere," she said, looking around. "What's with the walls?"
"Where's your Halloween stuff?" Lorelai asked.
"You know, your jack-o-laterns, your creepy ghosts cut outs, your vampires."
"I don't like Halloween."
"You say that about every pagan holiday."
"You're going as Leia this year?" Luke answered.
"Is it the hair?" Lorelai responded, reaching up, touching her hair buns. Luke let out a huff and looked at her. Lorelai smiled, antagonizing him.
"I have to get back to work. Do you want something?" Luke asked.
"Yes." Lorelai said. Luke pulled out his order pad and the pen stuck behind his ear. "Two usuals?" He asked, scribbling the order on the pad, frowning.
"You know me too well," she said, watching him.
"Rory is going to die of malnutrition," he said, tearing off the order slip. "Happy Halloween," he said. He turned, and left.
Lorelai went to the juke box as Lane Kim, Rory's best friend, entered,pushing her stylish glasses back on her nose. Lane was Korean, a product of an ultra strict, traditionalist mother who ran Stars Hollow's only antique shop. She was a product in the sense that she dressed ultra modern, was ultra modern, despite the fact she was in the high school band. Lane found Rory and slid into the booth.
Rory lit up. "What are you doing here?"
"I can't go home yet. Are you and your mom going trick-or-treating?"
"It is tradition," Rory replied. "Why don't you go with us?"
"Are you kidding? They only way my mom would let me hang out with your mom is with a parent or guardian. She's like an R rated movie."
"I think she's more like PG-13, although you should hear her dirty school cheers."
Lane laughed. "Your mom just doesn't know her," Rory said.
"My mom doesn't hate her. She just doesn't trust her," Lane responded.
"Same way with me?" Rory asked, knowing the answer.
"No, she hates you."
The Go Go's geared up on the jukebox. Lorelai slid in beside Rory. "Luke took The Bangles off the play list. It's so unfair."
"He probably got tired of hearing 'Walk Like an Egyptian," Rory responded.
"He probably got tired of me singing it and doing the dance. Are you're coming with us?" Lorelai asked Lane.
"Why not? You went last year."
"My mom thought I was at a Korean Studies Symposium at school."
"She fell for that?" Lorelai asked, laughing. Lane, however, wasn't laughing. "Sorry," Lorelai said, changing the subject. "Participating in childish activities is never the same without you," she said, reaching across and grabbing Lane's hands affectionately. "Maybe next year."
Lane smiled. "Dare to dream."
Lorelai's cell phone rung. From behind the counter, Luke pointed at a sign behind him: "No Cell Phones."
"I gotta go" Lane said, sliding out of her seat. Rory stood and hugged her. "Call me tomorrow."
Lorelai flipped the phone open and answered. It was Emily Gilmore. Lorelai pictured her country club glamorous mother seated in the "sitting room," the antique receiver perched under her Estee Lauder-ed chin. Make that Gloria Vanderbilt. Emily was from Old Money and Old Traditions.
"Where have you been?" Emily asked.
"I think the polite opening question is 'how have you been," Lorelai countered, trying to add her usual levity to their phone calls.
"I've called your house at least six times," Emily said, as genuinely worried as she was genuinely annoyed.
Rory mouthed "who is it?" to Lorelai. Lorelai mouthed "grandma" back.
"I've been walking with Rory," Lorelai answered. "We have these things called 'sidewalks' now. We were just trying them out." From across the table, Rory stifled a laugh.
"It's freezing out there Lorelai. She's going to catch a cold."
"She's not going to catch a cold, mom. I stopped letting her wear her bathing suit out after dark in the middle of fall."
"I'm glad to see your daughter's health is a joke to you, like everything else," her mom responded. Everything is a joke to me, Mom, Lorelai wanted to say. Humor is how you get through the day. A Coke and a smile. Or, in Lorelai's case, a coffee and a smile.
"I don't mean to snap, Lorelai. I just worry," Emily said, in her best conciliatory tone.
"I know and we're fine. We couldn't be more bundled up," Lorelai said. "In fact, we're so bundled, we're having a hard time walking. It's more like waddling."
"I was calling about dinner Friday night," Emily said.
"It's canceled?" Lorelai responded, feigning hope. She could hear her mom roll her eyes.
"No. It's not canceled. It will have to be lunch Saturday. Your father has a business meeting he can't get out of Friday evening."
"Breaking tradition. So not like you, Mom ."
"Can you and Rory make it? Yes or no," Emily asked.
"Of course. No problem. Saturday is fine," Lorelai said, realizing her mother was being nice and Lorelai was being the jerk.
"Stay warm. Stay safe. Tell Rory I said I love her."
"I will. Bye Mom. Love to Dad."
Lorelai hung up. "No dinner Friday," Lorelai told Rory as she put her cell phone away.
"We're getting the night off?"
"It's been moved to Saturday."
"So unlike grandma to reschedule," Rory said.
"Dad had a meeting he couldn't get out of."
"You know if she really wanted all of us to eat Friday, it would be so."
"It definitely would be so. So we have Friday night off," Lorelai said.
"So we do. Whatever will we do with ourselves?" Rory asked.
"We'll figure it out. We're two bright, attractive, happenin' women..." Luke brought their food to them, sliding their hamburgers in front of them.
"The hamburgers are here," Lorelai stated, salivating.
He tore their bill of the pad and slid it on the table. Rory looked up, beaming. "Thank you Luke."
Luke looked at her for a beat. "Please, Rory eat a piece of fruit. For once Please."
Lorelai laughed. "Rory, would you like an apple?"
"One apple please," Rory said.
"Thank you." Luke said. He left. Lorelai burst into laughter. Rory smiled and bit into a french fry.
After dinner, Lorelai and Rory found their way down the freezing streets. Since Lane was out of the picture for the night, Lorelai proposed an idea. Rory agreed it would be the best course of action. They only needed to make one stop -- the nearby grocer. Lorelai needed some deodorant. Rory needed to see Dean.
Dean was stocking frozen TV dinners into the refrigerated section of the store. He put the last box of a Hungry Man Lumberjack Meal on top of it's stack when he looked into the condensation frosted glass of the display door. Behind it, he could make out the image of an angel. From behind the glass, a finger pressed against the top of the silhouette's head and curved up and then down to a point and then back up again forming an outline of a heart. A hand swipe cleared the condensation from the middle of the heart to reveal Rory's face.
Dean smiled. He closed the freezer the door. Rory smiled, a little embarrassed despite herself.
"Nice heart," Dean said.
"I knew all that practice writing my name in the mirror after I took a shower would some day pay off," Rory said.
"What's with the beret?"
"Oh," Rory said touching the hat on her head. "It's for Halloween."
"Is your Mom throwing a party at the Inn? Exercising her executive powers?" Dean asked.
"No. It's for trick or treating," Rory responded.
"Trick or treating?"
"It's a tradition, me and my Mom" she said.
Dean smiled. "What are you going as?"
"You know, barbed wit..."
Dean smiled, "Yeah, I know Dorothy Parker. I didn't know Dorothy Parker wore a beret."
"She could have," Rory said, a little self conscious. "She did anything she wanted. She certainly said anything she wanted."
"What is your Mom going as?" Dean asked.
"She was nine when it came out. And then it was re-released a few years ago. She's insane." Rory said. A voice shouted out from across the store. It was her mother. "Rory, Listerine is forty nine cents off! I'm getting two!"
Dean laughed. Rory turned her attention back to Dean. "The prosecution rests, your honor."
"I would love to come," Dean said.
"What? Really?" Rory's face brightened.
"I don't know what to go as," Dean said. "What's comparable to Dorothy Parker and Princess Leia?"
"I don't know," Rory said, actually pondering what would be comparable for a moment. "You can go as anything you want."
"I'll be at your house at seven then."
"Seven," Rory repeated..
"Good bye, Rory," Dean said, a smile spreading across his face.
"Dorothy," Rory said, with a nod and a smile.
On the way home, Lorelai and Rory passed by Luke's. On the front glass was a handwritten sign: "NO CANDY. ONLY FRUIT" They both smiled.
"Dean is coming over."
"Tonight?" Lorelai repeated. "He's going trick-or-treating?"
"No, he's just coming over. He likes to sit in strange houses in the dark."
"Hey, Miss Smart Mouth, I still have that Barbie costume from when you were five. I'm sure he would love to see it." Lorelai said. They were in the bathroom. Lorelai was adjusting her costume.
"I still have the pictures of your three year stint as Madonna," Rory quipped back.
"Okay. You win," Lorelai said. "Geez. Win you play, you play to win. No wonder you have Dean. The boy never stood a chance."
"I hope I have him. Stupid, I know. It's been almost a year together, but still..." Rory said, sitting on top of the commode, her chin resting on her knees.
"Dean is crazy about you, Rory," Lorelai said. "He's going trick or treating. Willingly." Lorelai wondered where this was coming from but she also knew Rory's innate insecurities. It had been a slow-moving, slow developing relationship for Dean and Rory, which suited Lorelai just fine. She didn't want grandchildren until she was eighty seven anyway.
Rory managed a smile. She knew Dean liked her. She just couldn't believe it. After all, Dean was cute and cool with his foppish brown hair and day-wide smile. Rory didn't dress for gym and sat under trees reading books. To the "Baywatch" watching boys, Rory could be considered a Plain Jane (although considerably prettier than most stuck with that leper-like label.) However, to the guys who preferred an "i" and an "n" at the end of "bra," Rory was special. Dean knew it. He knew how special she was now and how much more special she would grow to be. In his eyes, Rory was perfect -- perfect mind, perfect body, perfect soul. The only one now needing convincing was Rory.
Lorelai looked at her daughter and smiled. She knew how hard it was to be a teenage girl and love. "There are a thousand and one excuses why he wouldn't go tonight, but there is only one reason why he is," Lorelai said, looking at her daughter. Rory smiled. Her mother was brimming with a lot of things. Thank God one was support.
"And let's not forget he has gained entrance into the Inner Circle. Halloween night is as sacred as 'Willie Wonka' video night," Lorelai continued. Outside, on the roof, there was a tap. Then another tap.
"No, no, no, no..." Lorelai said as Rory jumped up. They ran out of the bathroom and into the living room, racing to the front door. Lorelai flung it open.
To their horror, it was raining outside.
"It hasn't rain in forever on Halloween," Lorelai said disappointedly. Rory stepped out on the porch and hugged herself. It was cold. Her breath puffed out in front of her. "Definite hypothermia conditions," Rory said as she stepped back inside the house.
Rory closed the door as a smile spilled across Lorelai's face. "Not if we go as Eskimos."
"Come on Rory! Just think of all the candy we'll get since we'll be the only ones out. You know they'll be Fireballs..! We can suck on those to stave off frost bite."
"You mean stave off hypothermia."
"Come on! Please!" Lorelai pleaded.
"It's too cold. And it's raining. And you have to work tomorrow. You can't catch a cold and miss work."
"I won't, I promise. We'll only stay out a little while."
"I think we should stay in."
"But, I already have the outfit on. I look cool. Don't I look cool?"
Rory suppressed a laugh. "You look cool. But, I think we should stay in."
Lorelai let out a sigh. "Yeah, you're right. You always are. So what should we do?"
The phone rang. Rory answered it. It was Dean. Rory talked for a
moment and hung up.
"Dean?" Lorelai asked
"Dean," Rory confirmed. "He has an idea."
A large delivered pizza sat on the coffee table amongst bowls of candy. Rory, now in sweats, sat with Dean on the couch. Lorelai, also in sweats, sat sideways in an adjoining arm chair, her legs hanging over the arm. Lorelai's black hair was down, freed from the Leia buns. She chewed on a chosen strands, intently watching the TV where John Carpenter's classic "Halloween" was on. "Halloween" was the movie Dean and his friends back in Chicago watched every Halloween.
The three watched intently. During the scary moments, they jumped.
Lorelai hid her face in her hands. Rory buried her face into Dean's shoulder. Even though they had seen the movie a million times, it was still scary. And it was a such a rush being scared. At one point, Lorelai glanced over and saw something she never thought would bring as smile to her face: Dean's hand inching towards Rory's. It was the other kind of rush that we all welcome, when we are fortunate enough to meet someone we like. A wistful moment passed over Lorelai. She flashed back to high school; to when Christopher first asked her out. What a feeling of sheer exhilaration that was, as if a million bolts of electricity was shooting through her body. The rush of adrenaline that plays havoc with your basic motor functions couldn't be brought on by anyone else other than the object of your infatuation. Then she flashed forward to when, at Rory's age, she found out she was pregnant. As many habits as Rory had picked up from her mother, as many character traits she emulated, getting pregnant at sixteen, hopefully, would not be one of them. Rory would be smarter than that. After all, Rory was the star student at Stars Hollow High now transplanted into one of the most prestigious private schools in the country, Chilton. Rory had Harvard to go to, and then a world to take over. Rory wouldn't make the same mistake she did. But, how can you call it a mistake when the end product of one night of foolishness brought her the most important person in her life?
Dean's hand found Rory's. Playfully, like a Venus fly trap, Rory's fingers quickly enclosed his. Lorelai almost laughed. Deep inside, Rory did possess her mother's brazenness, and look out world when it finally surfaced.
Lorelai ducked out before the movie was over, giving Rory and Dean some privacy. As Lorelai laid on her bed staring at the ceiling, she drifted back to Halloweens gone by. She pictured Rory at younger ages, all dressed up to go out in the search of candy, and smiled. The smallest of tears formed in one of Lorelai's eyes.
Rory entered and walked to the bed. She laid down beside Lorelai, throwing an arm over her. "Did Dean leave?" Lorelai asked.
"I stashed him in the closet. We're going to make out after you go to sleep," Rory said.
"Just keep it down. I have to work tomorrow." Lorelai said, smiling.
She secretly wiped the tiny tear from her eye. "That was a lot of fun," she said.
"It was. Look like we may have a new tradition," Rory said, her head resting on her mother's stomach.
"You think we're getting too old to dress up?" Lorelai asked.
"Only if it's Mardi Gras and we're in New Orleans. I'd say yes," Rory responded.
"Yeah. I can handle the movie thing. I like the movie thing."
"Me too," Rory said. "With or without Dean."
"Preferably 'with," Lorelai said, smiling.
Rory smiled. "Preferably."
Lorelai smiled. "You wanna go to your bed...?" She asked, secretly not wanting her daughter to go.
"No. I'm good." Rory said.
Lorelai smiled and brushed her hand across Rory's head. "Night," Lorelai said, resting her hand on Rory.
"Night," Rory said. She closed her eyes and smiled, feeling the safeness of her mother's touch.
Lorelai's eyes became heavy and finally closed. Dean's face appeared in Rory's mind and she smiled. Then her mother appeared, dressing a younger Rory up for Halloween. Most Halloweens Lorelai had to make do with what they had since funds were often limited. But, somehow, Lorelai Gilmore would always fashion a costume that had the other kids asking Rory "where did you get that? Mom! I want one like Rory's!" Lorelai seem to always made it work for them, some way, somehow and always did it with a smile. Sorrow settled over Rory. She couldn't imagine life without her Mom. Rory was getting older, she knew it. She was growing up and growing out of certain traditions. But the one thing she knew she would never outgrow was her relationship with Lorelai. Time had a way of folding up memories and putting them away; for us to rediscover them when we're ready to fully appreciate what they have to offer. As Rory hugged her mother, she never loved or appreciated her more.
Some things would never change.