Just Another Stars Hollow Afternoon
It was Patty's turn to throw Poker night at her house, and since she'd forgotten to buy snacks for us ladies, we decided to run over to Doose's and buy some goodies- and I needed cat food, and Morey asked me to buy him a melon if they had any, you know, the really juicy kind. I don't like melons, personally, they make my poo go all green and slimey, but Morey's crazy about them and what can I say? I'm crazy about him.
Anyway, so we walk into Doose's, and I head straight for the ice-cream and the cat food and Patty goes looking for the hooch, but I'm only just picking out the second can of Fancy Feat, 'cause Apricot's getting so picky now that she's older, she'll only eat the liver-and-brocoli kind if the cans are dented or smashed, when Patty rushes over and kinda elbows me with her eyebrows raised all hush-hush. So I whisper real quietly, "What, Patty?" And she nudges her head towards the checkout. And there's Mrs. Kim buying her lettuce and kale, and Kirk buying I-don't-even-want-to-know-what, Christ that child is disturbing sometimes, and I say, "What, Patty?"
And she points over to the next checkout, and there's Luke, putting his groceries out, and I say to Patty, I say, "What's so special about a man who does his own shopping? It's not like he's got anyone to do it for him," and Patty starts to laugh, and drops her voice and goes, "Looks like he might, actually."
I look at the stuff in Luke's cart. He's buying razor blades, tomatoes, carrots, a box of cereal, strawberry shampoo and peach conditioner, a box of Mallomars, granola bars, a pound of coffee, two cartons of milk, a head of lettuce, and a package of gum.
I don't get it.
"I don't get it," I tell Patty, and remember to lower my voice as I add: "I mean, yeah, the shampoo's a little weird but sometimes Morey steals my shampoo and I think it's kind of hot, actually. And-"
She elbows me in the ribs.
"Ouch! What was that for?" I rub my side annoyedly. Patty doesn't speak but nods her head towards the checkout, where Taylor's just walked up to Luke. Ooh. This might be good.
"Lucas," Taylor says, and I gotta tell you, I'm never gonna get where he gets his mighty tone from, it's not like being town selectman of Stars Hollow is anything to be proud of, "might I ask you what you are planning to do with that coffee?"
Luke freezes. "Excuse me?"
"Is it possible that you are buying coffee in my market to sell it at your diner in a knowing and clear violation of state regulations, not to mention the Stars Hollow Business Community Rules and Ethics Charter?" Taylor pokes an accusatory finger into Luke's chest, who looks down at him like he's certifiable, which, lets face it, is probably true. "I'm waiting for an answer, young man."
"Taylor, I have suppliers. They deliver the coffee I sell at the diner. They deliver it to me. Personally."
"I know that, Luke," Taylor snaps. "But they deliver it early in the morning, and it is now six thirty PM, and since you've got this entire town addicted to the stuff it's not at all improbable that you might have run out of coffee and thought to yourself, let's just quickly run over to our friendly neighborhood market and buy something, since being grumpy and flannel-wearing puts me above the laws of this town-"
"Oh, for God's sake, Taylor!" Luke bellows. I giggle- he and Taylor have been at odds basically since Luke learned to talk, which was a very long time ago, let me tell you- I'm no spring chicken, and I can remember it perfectly. Anyhow, so Taylor keeps nagging poor Luke about the coffee, and Patty keeps throwing me these significant glances as she stocks up on Kettle Chips and a bottle of sweet sherry.
"I'm just saying, Lucas, if you're planning to sell that coffee, it'd basically be black market coffee. You'd be exposing your establishment to all sorts of criminal activity. It's just a small step from black-market coffee to drug-dealing, gang violence-"
"YOU," Luke barks, so loudly you can hear it all the way in the back of the market where Taylor keeps the booze hidden like this is the freakin' prohibition or something, "had breakfast at my establishment this morning, Taylor. Are you saying you socialize in drug trafficking spots, Taylor? Really?"
"I'm not- I mean-" Taylor bristles, and as we walk back to register I can see his head going red, like the time when Morey walked into him and made him spill a can of paint all over himself before the Spring Carnivale -Morey was wearing sunglasses because of his street cred, so it wasn't his fault- and he gives Luke a very unpleasant look. "Luke, just tell me why on earth you're buying a pound of coffee. You don't even drink coffee, god knows you make that clear enough."
"It is none of your goddamn business why I'm buying coffee," Luke snaps back.
And suddenly I get it.
"OH MY GOD," I scream. "YOU'RE BUYING COFFEE FOR LORELAI. YOU AND HER ARE BACK TOGETHER." Oh, my god, this is so great. I'm so happy for them and we've all waited for this for ever, and finally they've made it and this time it's going to last. Everyone at Doose's looks up when they hear me shout -oops- and everyone starts smiling at Luke because we've all been rooting for him from the very beginning, from the day Lorelai first stepped into that diner and his face lit up like he'd never seen the sun before.
Kirk walks over to Luke and tries to give him a hug.
"Kirk." Luke says, sounding pretty strained and looking at Kirk like he's something gross and slimy from another planet, which, let's face it, is sort of true. "You're touching me."
"I'm just so happy," Kirk says, and I'll say it again, he's a disturbing child. "When the two of you split up, that messed me up, Luke. I'm like a child from a broken home whose parents are back together. I am such a happy camper right now."
"Er," Luke says. "Good. I mean. Not good. Kirk. This is none of your- get off me, would you?"
"Are you going to get married this time?" Mrs. Kim asks sternly, packing up her lettuce. "You should make an honest woman out of Lorelai, Luke. Though I do not think that alone will save her."
Me and Patty snort with laughter.
"Okay, you all, seriously? This is none of your goddamn business!"
"Oh, relax, sweetie," Patty tells him soothingly. "We just love the two of you, and we want you to be happy."
"Can I just pay?" Luke demands, waving two twenties in Taylor's direction. "Here. That'll cover it, right?"
"Don't be ridiculous, Luke, I'm not going to charge you forty dollars for this," Taylor laughs, gesturing at the few groceries in Luke's basket. "The big corporate chains might be this expensive, but in Stars Hollow, the prices are low because my store is-"
"Just take the damn money, would you? Use the change for the damn bridge or something."
"Luke, if you ever participated in town events, you would know that we finished restoring the bridge years ago!" Taylor sighs. "Thank goodness Lorelai's back in your life, at least she keeps you participating in community-sponsored activities."
"Thank goodness I'm back in who's life?" Oh, my god. Everyone's eyes swivel around and snap on Lorelai, who's just walked in. "Hi, everyone."
"We were just saying-" of course Taylor has to go and put his big annoying mouth places where it doesn't belong, the man likes the sound of his own voice so much, he should have become a ventriloquist instead of bothering the rest of us, "we were just saying what a positive influence you are on Luke over here."
"Oh," Lorelai says brightly and a little confused. "I am?"
Taylor nods enthusiastically, and starts talking, but Luke cuts him off: "Shut up, Taylor."
Kirk walks up to Lorelai. "I'm so happy," he says, and tries to hug her, too. "You make me believe in love, Lorelai. And in happy endings."
"KIRK!" Lorelai snaps, prying him off her. "Remember when we talked about personal space? Guys, what is going on here?"
"Darling," Patty chimes in, "we're just so happy you and Luke are back together again, that's all. None of us had any idea."
Lorelai's mouth falls open. Luke looks like he's ready to murder all of us, and I start to realize that it's strange that I hadn't heard a whim of this all day.
"That's funny," Lorelai says, sounding calm, but her voice is a little shaky and her cheeks are pretty flushed, "because neither did I."
Silence falls. Kirk freezes, dumbstruck, mid-happy dance. Patty whistles a little "oh-oh", and Mrs. Kim just rolls her eyes. Everyone stares at Luke, who's staring at the ground and suddenly looks very, very small.
I regain my voice first. "But, sugar," I say, "he was buyin' groceries for you. Coffee and everything." I turn to Luke: "You were buying it for her, right, hon?" Luke nods.
Lorelai just stares at him. "You were buying groceries for me?"
"Yeah," Luke mumbles.
"Cause," Luke exhales deeply, still staring at his shoes, "I overheard you on the phone with Rory this morning telling her you were so busy hardly even had time to go grocery shopping. So I was just going to bring you some stuff, you know, no big deal-"
"You went grocery shopping for me?" Her eyes roam over the assembled stuff, and I swear to god it looks like she might be crying. "You bought coffee. And Mallomars. And you remembered the shampoo I use."
"Yeah," Luke mumbles. Everyone else has gone totally quiet. I'm telling you, sometimes living in Stars Hollow is like going to the movies every day of the week, only there's no popcorn and the seats aren't as comfortable.
"You bought me coffee," Lorelai repeats. "Why?"
"I just told you, I overheard you talking to Rory-"
"No," she interrupts. "I mean, why?"
Luke seems to be forcing himself to look up. They're staring at each other and it's like there's this intense pull between them, you can almost see it. Oh man, this is like one of the great love stories of our time, happening right here in Stars Hollow. "Can we maybe talk about this somewhere more private?"
"No," Lorelai says quietly, and her voice is shaking, "I think right here would be good."
Luke sighs. "I don't know what you want me to say." Oh, for god's sake, it isn't that hard.
"Answer my question," Lorelai tells him.
"I bought you coffee because I thought you'd need it." Luke's looking properly at her now, and it's like there's a whole laundry list of things he's been waiting to tell her, out here where we all can hear it, bless him. "I bought you coffee because I like taking care of you, and it's the only way I could think of today. Taking care of you… is what I do. And it makes happy that I can, and whatever we do, Lorelai, whatever we become, I'll keep doing it." I realize I'm not breathing. If he's ever going to tell her, really tell her, it's now. "I bought you coffee because whatever else we're doing, whatever else I'm doing, I love you. And it's the only way I know of showing you how."
Oh, my god. He's really done it. And they weren't even back together yet. I think I'm going to faint.
Lorelai's staring at him like he's insane, and I can tell she's thinking about running. She's gonna need a lot of help, that one. "Don't be such an idiot, sugar," I tell her. And add, towards Luke: "She loves you too."
"Babette!" Lorelai snarls, glaring at me.
"What?" I shrug. "Not true? If you say so, honey."
"No, it's- I mean of course I-" She stares at Luke helplessly. "Can we maybe go somewhere and talk?"
"I thought you said here was good."
"I changed my mind."
"So did I."
"Yeah, clearly," she snorts. "This is stupid. I'm not doing this here. And you-" she points an accusatory finger at Luke- "what were you going to do, leave a bag of groceries on my front porch? What are you, twelve? Grow up. I'm leaving." She turns, but Taylor gets there first.
"I don't think so, young lady," he says, blocking the door and putting that voice of his to good use for the first time, "I will not have you and your silly romantic whatnot affecting my business community ever again. You two are going to work this out, right now."
"TAYLOR!" Luke and Lorelai both roar, but are drowned out in the rest of us applauding our town selectman for doing exactly what we wanted him to do for the first time ever, probably.
"Guys!" Lorelai yells. "Shut up!" Everyone goes quiet immediately.
"Tell him, honey," says Patty.
"Honesty is a virtue," says Mrs. Kim.
"I'll be a child from a broken home again," says Kirk.
"You bid on my basket," Lorelai manages. Everyone stares at her, but she's looking straight at Luke, and it's like she doesn't even realize the rest of us are still here. "You bid on my basket and you buy me coffee even though you think it's poison and you kept my horoscope and you stupid idiot, of course I love you."
I remember to breathe. Luke is just staring at her.
"Okay then," Taylor says brightly. "I'm glad we settled that. Lucas, you owe me twenty three dollars and fourteen cents. Lorelai, we have a buy-three-get-one-free Pop Tarts special I think you'll enjoy."
"TAYLOR!" Me and Patty yell.
Luke hands Taylor a twenty. Lorelai goes off to find Pop Tarts. Everyone just kind of stands there looking really lost.
By the time Taylor has counted out Luke's change and explained to him that the collection box by the register isn't for the restoration of the bridge but for restoring the colonial trading post outside town, Lorelai is back with her Pop Tarts.
"So," she mumbles towards Luke. "I'll see you around."
"Yeah," Luke nods, smiling to himself. "I'll see you around."