Once and Again...Once Again

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Written by Angela Stockton

Edited by Milton Boyd

[In black and white, Jake smiles and says, "Let me tell you about the women in my life. I am beset by them, I'm undone by them, I'm in awe of them, I'm in love with them....Maybe this time I'll have a boy. Wouldn't that be nice?" He sees himself with a boy of about twelve, who bounces a basketball and calls, "Hey, Dad, alley-oop!" After Jake throws an alley-oop pass and the boy dunks it, they exchange joyous high-fives.]

Jake and Tiffany are in a Lamaze class, the instructor urging the men to do whatever they must to make their partners comfortable. When Tiffany waggles her foot at him, Jake massages it good-naturedly; but after she extends her other foot, whatever enjoyment he finds in being a labor coach seems to wear off.

["When Grace was a baby, she used to whisper things in my ear. It was like she was telling me secrets," Jake recalls fondly.] While driving Grace home from school, Jake asks her how her play is going. Turning her face away from him, she replies curtly, "It's okay," and discourages further conversation by saying she's trying to hear the song on the radio. On another occasion, Jake and his daughters are sprawled in his easy chair, arms and legs entangled while they eat popcorn and watch television. Grace and Zoe double-team him in a tickling frenzy. ["They are completely and utterly bewitching," Jake sighs.]

On a day when Lily and her daughters are helping Judy unpack and shelve books in Booklovers Café, Lily notices Jake conducting an interview with a young woman whom Judy describes as "the new coffee person." Tiffany enters and is greeted with an affectionate hug by Zoe, who asks, "How's the baby?"

"He's good," Tiffany replies. "So it's a he?" Judy asks. "I'm going to have a brother?" Zoe asks. Tiffany explains that she uses "he" only to avoid referring to the baby as "it." But under questioning by Grace, she says she knows in her heart that it's a boy.

Zoe presses her ear to Tiffany's abdomen to listen to the baby's heartbeat. "Are you having a baby shower?" she asks. "Not unless you have one for me," Tiffany answers.

"I'll have one for you," Zoe offers. Tiffany notices Lily and Grace exchanging dubious glances and quickly assures Zoe that she was only kidding. "But you have to have a baby shower! That's how you get presents!" Zoe insists. "Besides, I want to come." Tiffany promises that if someone gives her a shower, she'll see that Zoe is invited. But when Lily asks, Tiffany is forced to admit that no one is giving her one, because the only person who even offered has backed out. Seeing Zoe's pleading look, Lily offers to throw a shower, a small one. "Not that small," Zoe "corrects" her mother. Tiffany is touched and promises to think about it. "I love showers," Judy comments with a forced smile. [Glumly, she adds, "I always give the same thing, a receiving blanket. I buy them ten at a time."]

In another part of the café, no sooner does Jake end a conversation with handyman/carpenter Vic about the flooring than Tiffany reminds him about the hospital tour planned for that evening. No sooner does he agree to accompany Tiffany on the tour than Judy pesters him to take care of the very flooring problem he was discussing with Vic. With sarcasm that Judy doesn't detect, he agrees that this is a good idea. ["Like I said, I'm beset," he says wearily.]

Judy arranges a table and some chairs, declining Tiffany's offer to use her knowledge of feng shui to help. Staring at Judy, Tiffany suddenly claims to have experienced a vision of Judy holding a baby. ["I don't see how that would happen," Judy says--until she looks down and is startled to see that her belly is swollen with pregnancy.]

That night, at their kitchen table, Lily and Zoe start planning the shower. Grace pointedly does not join in, even saying that she won't attend it, and grumbling, "I don't understand the whole baby culture thing." "You will one day," Lily promises her. "I might not," Grace retorts.

As Tiffany and Jake are leaving the hospital after their tour, she remarks that they should consider having the baby at home with a midwife. She also asks if she has mentioned that Zoe wants to give her a shower, and Lily has agreed to do so. To her surprise and dismay, Jake reacts negatively, arguing, "I don't want Grace and Zoe getting the wrong impression. If you let them throw you a baby shower, they'll gonna think we're getting married. I don't think that's a good idea."

When Tiffany points out that the baby is Zoe's sibling and she already cares about it, Jake claims that he's not against the girls' attending a shower if one of her girlfriends wants to host it, but that Lily and the girls shouldn't be the hosts. "Fine, I'll tell them no," Tiffany says coolly, struggling to conceal her hurt feelings. Later that evening, Zoe answers the phone in her mother's kitchen and is delighted that the caller is Tiffany, because she wants to talk about the shower again. Tiffany gently sidesteps a protracted conversation with Zoe by asking to speak to Lily. With a heavy heart, she tells Lily not to plan on having the shower because she is thinking of going home to Madison. Lily hears the sad undercurrent in Tiffany's voice and is concerned that so close to her due date, she seems undecided about where to give birth; but before Lily can ask any probing questions, Tiffany hangs up. As Lily is staring at the phone in bewilderment, Zoe emerges from down the hall, holding the kitchen phone, her face a picture of frustration and disappointment. She throws the phone on the deacon's bench in the foyer and runs upstairs.

Next day, while Jake is in Tiffany's apartment, working on her "bargain" bent-wheeled stroller, Tiffany repeats that she might go home to Madison to give birth. As she sees it, he'd be "off the hook" if she did, so his reply--"I don't think you should"--surprises her. He adds that he thinks it's a bad idea for her to leave if she's making the offer for his sake only.

Although she appreciates his promise to always be there for the baby, she's not completely reassured because she doesn't understand what that means for her relationship with Jake. Specifically, she wonders if they're going to continue to sleep together. When he doesn't immediately answer, she asks, "Babe, can you hear me?" [In black and white, he hears Tiffany repeat her question.] Before he can say more than "I don't know, exactly," he's paged by Judy. As he heads for the door, Tiffany tells him that if he means what he says, she won't go to Madison because she'd rather stay. "I think you should stay," Jake replies, but adds, "I mean, it's your decision."

Lily drops by to deliver a gift of a baby snowsuit, and lingers to chat. Tiffany admits that she can't decide whether to stay or go to Madison, and that Jake isn't helping because "one minute he's sweet and generous, the next it's like he's completely checked out. Does that make sense?" she asks Lily, who answers ironically, "Gee, I wouldn't know."

Tiffany explains that she wants to stay so that the baby will know Jake. Lily says that the baby should know Grace and Zoe too, and assures Tiffany that she and the baby will always have a family in Chicago. Overcome, Tiffany starts to cry and hugs Lily. "So you'll let us have a shower for you?" Lily asks. "Yeah, I'd like that," Tiffany answers, smiling through her tears.

Judy and Jake are at work in Booklovers Café, Judy exulting because they have already booked three parties and the store has yet to open, when Sam and Rick arrive, carrying a "Booklovers Café" sign. "You guys made this?" she asks Sam in surprise.

"I did," Sam replies. "His partner did all the real work," Rick counters. Uneasy in Sam's presence, Judy takes advantage of the ringing phone to excuse herself.

While admiring the sign, Jake talks to Sam, asking him how the Dreiser Hotel project is coming. Sam answers that they're looking for more investors. They talk about their families, Sam mentioning that he is separated and has an 11-year-old son, Jake that he was formerly married to Lily and has a baby on the way.

After Rick and Sam leave, Judy questions Jake about the coffee server he hired. Judy claims that she doesn't feel comfortable with this employee, while Jake argues that she has experience and great references. ["She does, I swear it!" Jake nervously insists to the camera.] Their discussion is cut short when a newspaper reporter arrives and asks Judy if they can talk "away from all these workmen." Jake is humiliated when Judy ignores him, neither explaining that he's not one of the workmen nor including him in the interview. [In black and white, Jake finds himself flanked by Judy and Tiffany, both demanding his attention at the same time.]

That night, Grace and Zoe look through their old baby pictures while talking about the new baby. When Zoe speculates that their father will like having a boy, Grace speculates that since he clearly doesn't want to marry Tiffany, he might not spend a lot of time with the baby. Seeing that this idea upsets Zoe, Grace quickly adds that he'll probably be thrilled to have a boy, then changes the subject, proposing that she and Zoe make a collage of their baby pictures for the shower.

In the morning, Jake arrives to pick up the girls and is discomfited at the sight of Rick and Lily sharing a long, passionate good-bye kiss. After Rick has left, Jake asks Lily if she'd like him to start waiting for the girls outside. She takes advantage of the opportunity to tell him that she and the girls are giving Tiffany a baby shower, and that he's welcome. She's stunned when Jake complains that the shower is a bad idea for Grace and Zoe, and that she should have checked with him first.

"I don't understand why you're so upset about a baby shower!" she exclaims.

"And I don't understand why you have to be so involved with Tiffany!" he retorts.

"Because I wanted to do something for her," Lily replies.

"That's so nice and saintly of you," he sneers. When Lily asks if he wants her to call it off, he answers, "Yeah."

[Jake is still flanked by Tiffany and Judy, but now Lily is behind him, asking irritably, "Jake, are you confused by the words coming out of my mouth?" Tiffany and Judy pelt him with their own questions.] Entering the kitchen, Grace and Zoe ask Jake to attend the shower and help with their preparations. [Tiffany, Judy and Lily are now joined by Grace and Zoe, all talking at once and jostling Jake. He's desperate to escape but can't--he's trapped between the women behind him and an invisible, impenetrable barrier in front of him.] He finally agrees to supply the food. While Grace and Zoe are pleased, his tired face and slumped posture betray the strain he's feeling.

Later, Lily calls Jake at Booklovers to ask him to take Zoe shopping for a shower present. "Yessir, Ma'am," he answers sarcastically. Moments later, Tiffany arrives to remind Jake about an upcoming Lamaze class. She also tells Judy that she thinks Jake and Judy are connected by a "really strong karmic ribbon" and that they must have shared a past life together. "The more pregnant I get, the more clearly I can see all these connections," she claims.

Cynically, Judy suggests, "Not everything has a cosmic significance. Sometimes people don't get along."

"I don't see how that can be true," Tiffany answers, genuinely puzzled.

That afternoon, Judy visits her gynecologist for her annual appointment and uses the occasion to ask if she still has time to have a baby. The doctor warns her that in most women approaching 40, eggs start to decline in quality, and she suggests that Judy undergo a screening. [In black and white, Judy sees herself on an examining table, asking the gynecologist, "How's it going?" The gynecologist replies, "Still looking. Give me a minute," and substitutes an enormous lamp for her small one.] Judy tells her doctor that she'll think about it.

On their outing to buy a shower present, Jake takes Zoe to a store specializing in baby merchandise. Zoe is immediately drawn to a tiny silver comb and brush set, but Jake objects that it's too expensive. A sales clerk offers her help, but after she leaves to find some items in the mid-price range, Zoe picks up a crib comforter. "You have an uncanny ability to zone in on the most expensive thing in the store!" Jake exclaims, and pleads with Zoe to pick something he can afford.

"But I want to get something special. Don't you want the baby to have nice things?" Zoe whines. When Jake calls a shower gift "just a token," Zoe reacts as if she's been personally insulted, demanding, "It's your baby. How can you say that?" Awkwardly, Jake says, "It's not like it was with you and Grace," but Zoe only asks, "Why not?" The sales clerk returns with an armload of baby outfits but Zoe refuses to examine them and, folding her arms across her chest, tells her father that she wants to leave.

In her kitchen, Lily is blowing up balloons for the shower when Judy, helping her, casually announces that she is thinking of undergoing in vitro fertilization. Lily is so startled that she lets go of her fully inflated balloon, which flies around the kitchen. Judy is not comforted by Lily's belief that she still has plenty of time to become pregnant the old-fashioned way, reminding her, "What if I don't find anyone?" When she admits that she's still undecided about in vitro, Lily says, "Well, I think that's--"

"What--stupid? tragic? brave?" Judy finishes for her.

"One of those," Lily concedes.

Tiffany arrives for the shower and is shown into the living room by Grace. When the baby kicks, Tiffany encourages Grace to feel the movement; squeamish at first, Grace rests her hand on Tiffany's abdomen and is awestruck. She asks Tiffany if she's certain that the baby is a boy, and Tiffany, bursting with pride, nods happily.

When Jake and Zoe arrive, bringing the party food, Lily notices that they don't have a gift. "Daddy wouldn't spend any money," Zoe explains bitterly. "Great, that was supposed to be from both of us, now what am I supposed to do?" Grace demands. "I don't believe this--I asked you to do one thing!" Lily exclaims. Feeling very put upon, Jake explodes, "You asked me to do ten things and pay for all of it!" [In black and white, and surrounded by all the women in his life, all talking at once, Jake shrieks, "What I have is no freakin' idea about what it is that you all want from me!"] Tiffany walks in on his rant and asks if he's staying for the shower. "No, I am not staying for the shower!" he shouts, and storms out. Feeling embarrassed for her, Judy, Lily, Zoe and Grace glance at Tiffany, who mutters, "Fine!" as she fights to keep from breaking down.

Returning to Booklovers, Jake finds Rick and Sam installing the sign while simultaneously tossing a basketball. They tell Jake they're about to call it a day and, assuming that he's avoiding the shower, invite him to shoot hoops with them. "C'mon, we'll sprain something, it'll be fun," Rick urges him. Jake thanks them but declines and goes into his office, leaving Rick and Sam to see themselves out.

At the shower, Tiffany introduces Grace to her half-sister, Brandi. Picking up a framed photo of Rick and Lily's wedding party from a side table, Brandi asks Grace, "Who's this guy?" and Grace answers that it's her stepfather. "He's a hottie!" Brandi exclaims; flustered, Grace comments, "That's not a conversation I can have." Unfazed, Brandi points to another man in the photo and asks who he is. "Oh my God," Grace groans, rolling her eyes.

While the shower continues, Lily slips out to visit Jake at the bookstore and say that she needs to apologize for being insensitive and treating him like a bad person. Humbly, he acknowledges that he blew up in front of his girls and wonders if everyone wouldn't be better off if he went away. "Why--because everybody wants something from you? Why do you think that is?" Lily asks. She reminds him that he's a powerful figure in the lives of those nearest to him, someone who brings them protection, fun and love. She claims that her own father loved Jake because he trusted Jake to take care of his family. "You didn't think I was that kind of person," Jake reminds her.

"Jake, there were a lot of things wrong with our marriage, but none of them had to do with who you are as a father," Lily replies. Jake hangs his head, too moved to respond. Lily says she has to return to the shower but as she leaves, she takes his hand in an encouraging clasp.

As the shower progresses, Judy and Tiffany converse over the buffet, Judy asking Tiffany what it feels like to have a life inside her. "It's the strangest thing," Tiffany replies thoughtfully. "Sometimes it just feels like indigestion, but then there are these other times when I'm so completely aware that there's this little person inside of me, who will have an opinion and a hairstyle and a certain laugh. It's just so amazing to me that this is even possible." Judy smiles wistfully and compliments her on her choice of words.

While Tiffany is opening her presents, Jake slips in through the front door, a gift bag in hand. He overhears Tiffany crowing, "It's a boy!" when Brandi holds over her a crystal which allegedly has the power of prognostication. Spotting Jake in the foyer, Grace goes to him, then takes the bag and presents it to Tiffany, saying that it's from her and Zoe. When she lifts a box from the bag and opens it to find the silver brush and comb set, Tiffany is moved almost to tears and effusively thanks the girls. "You're welcome," Zoe answers in confusion, and moves over to Grace, who nods in Jake's direction. Zoe glares at him and runs upstairs. When he starts to follow her, the shower guests see him and invite him into the living room. He picks up the photo collage and smiles at the photos of himself with his girls. Looking up, he sees Lily mouth, "Thank you."

Jake goes upstairs, where Zoe is sulking in her room. She ignores his attempts to make conversation and asks point blank, "Are you gonna marry Tiffany?"

"Probably not," he admits. "I don't think we're ready to live together."

Zoe asks if the baby will live with him sometimes "like we do." Jake answers that he and Tiffany haven't decided--but that while he's still a baby, it's probably best that he stay with Tiffany. "Will you ever visit him?" Zoe persists.

"If course I will," he replies. Zoe starts to cry. Jake explains, "Being your dad and being Grace's dad has been the most important thing in my life. Frankly, it's the only thing that's given me any sense of accomplishment or meaning. I could never know that there was a child out there who was mine that I didn't take care of and love."

Although she doesn't claim to understand him, Zoe thanks him for buying the comb and brush set. Enfolding her in his arms, Jake says she was right about it being a special present, and he's glad they bought it.

To bring the shower to a close, the participants form a circle in the living room while Zoe, holding a ball of yarn, explains that they're about to form a "Goddess Circle": without cutting the yarn, each member of the circle will tie a loop around the wrist of the person next to her, until they are all joined together. Zoe prevails upon her father to join the circle and self-consciously, he steps between his daughters. The strings between the loops are burned apart by a candle, but Zoe and Lily instruct everyone to continue wearing his or her own loop until the baby is born and the umbilical cord is cut. [As "I've Got the World on a String" plays in voice-over, Jake embraces his daughters, then is joined by Lily, Judy, and Tiffany. Finally, he holds an infant while "Jake's women" smile approvingly.]

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