Once and Again...Once Again

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Summary of "Let's Spend the Night Together
(Now I Need You More Than Ever)"

By Elizabeth Angela
Edited by Angela Stockton

["I have no idea what I'm doing!"]

With a nervous laugh and a resolute sigh, Lily's black-and-white confession sets the stage for a slightly frenzied morning in the Manning kitchen. While Lily rushes to pack her daughters' lunches for school, Zoe interrupts with complaints about the food. Talking on the phone in the background, Grace makes sarcastic remarks to her friend. One particularly snotty remark causes Lily to snap, "Zoe, stop that!" "I'm Grace!" her elder daughter smugly replies.

["I'm forty years old, I'm not even divorced yet, my husband still acts like he lives here..."]

With that, Jake blithely strides through the back door into the kitchen, booming a jovial "Good morning." As Grace greets him with a hug and a kiss, Lily hands him lunch bags, admonishing him to get the girls off to school. "All right, kids, let's go," Jake responds - then promptly begins to forage through Lily's refrigerator. As Lily shoots Grace a glowering "cut" sign, Grace finally ends her phone conversation. No sooner has she announced, "I'm off, see?" when the phone rings again.

Grace answers and announces, "Mom, it's for you." As Lily moves to take the phone, Grace toys with her: "I'll tell them you'll call back." Wresting the phone from her daughter, Lily greets the caller with a wary "Hello?" which is returned by a cheery masculine "Good morning!" from Rick.

Hearing the background voices at Lily's, he asks if he should call back later. "Just one second," Lily replies. Holding the phone to her shoulder to mute her words, she informs Jake that the girls are always late for school on the mornings he drives them. "I'm ready!" he protests. "Get them ready," Lily replies.

From his cell phone, Rick hears the ensuing hubbub in the Manning kitchen and laughs quietly to himself. When Lily finally rejoins their conversation, he loses no time getting to the point: "Hey, when do I get to see you?"

Flustered by the morning chaos, Lily plaintively responds, "When do you want to see me?" Running down the commitments each of them faces over the next few evenings quickly brings them to Saturday, which Rick decrees is "too far away." Suddenly he brightly suggests, "Hey, what about tonight?" Since her daughters will be eating dinner with Jake, Lily concludes she can meet him, but adds, "I'd have to be home by nine." Still upbeat, Rick responds, "That beats Saturday."

Suddenly, Lily's attention is elsewhere. Jake has re-entered the kitchen, pauses dramatically, and announces, "Zoe doesn't like peanut butter any more." As her not-quite-ex-husband proceeds to rummage the refrigerator once again, Lily stares at him incredulously, oblivious to Rick's questioning "Hello?" over the cell phone. [In black and white, Lily wordlessly shakes her head before clasping it between her hands in complete frustration.]

A short while later, Rick is on Karen's front porch picking up his own kids for school. As Jessie and Eli repeatedly traipse past their parents en route from house to car and back, Karen and Rick haltingly converse about Eli's new romantic relationship. Karen pumps Rick for information about the new girl she has yet to meet. When she confides, "I think I heard him say 'I love you,'" Rick's not-to-worry attitude screeches to a halt with a stupefied "Yikes." Karen nods and gets to the heart of her concern: "Have you talked to him about con..." [She pauses as Eli inopportunely passes by again.] "... about condoms?" In full escape mode, Rick airily responds, "I have to go now."

Karen continues to prod Rick, expressing her concern that someone ensure their son acts responsibly. Referring to Eli as "my baby," she plays her trump card: "You talk to him. You're the dad." As Eli passes his parents one last time en route to the car, Rick wearily intones, "I'm the dad."

Between kisses in a bustling high school corridor, Eli and Jen exchange playful banter about finding time in their busy schedules to see each other that evening. Grace shoots a glance in their direction as she catches up to her friend, Julie, and proceeds to spill the beans about encountering her mother sans blouse with Rick a few nights earlier. In true child-of-divorce solidarity, Julie avers, "That's like the worst thing I've ever heard." Grace swears her friend to secrecy, but Julie is still too stunned by Grace's revelation to process this plea. "In your living room?" she asks, as Grace shudders and hurries off to class.

At the office of Sammler and Cassilli, David offers Rick dubious -- and judging from Rick's reactions, unwanted -- advice about how to counsel Eli regarding sex. Their barbed repartee is interrupted by an assistant's cheery announcement, "Lindsey's on line one." Still needling his partner, David inquires, "Are you going to tell her... that you're in love with 'the mom'?" Rick protests that he just met Lily, but admits that he does indeed like her. "So I'll go out with Lindsey," David offers, adding, "You know you're never gonna sleep with two women at once."

Rick turns his attentions to the telephone. Lindsey has just returned from a trip out of town and wants to see Rick soon. Flustered by how to respond, Rick seizes on Eli's arrival as an opportunity to delay the inevitable and asks Lindsey if he can call her back. "Now that's telling her," David wryly observes. Rick attempts to return David's verbal volley, but is clearly overmatched when his partner continues, "So, Eli. Your father and I would really like to talk to you about sex."

[In black-and-white, Rick recalls, "The first time? Sixteen. No, seventeen. And a half. It took me a year to try it again," he laughs.]

Out of David's earshot, Rick fumblingly advises his son about knowing what he's getting into. Finding eye contact difficult at first, he nonetheless assures Eli that he should feel free to talk with him about sex.

["I don't think I even knew what sex was until I met Karen," Rick admits. They were twenty-two and went crazy. "It was like being drunk on somebody else."]

After informing his father that he and Jen haven't had sex, Eli asks, "Did Mom say something?" Rick agrees with Eli's assessment that Karen worries about "that stuff," but hastens to add that, despite protests to the contrary, girls view sex differently than boys do: "It means more to them." Eli assures his dad that he's been well indoctrinated in "sexual correctness."

At dinner that evening, Rick and Lily learn more about each other's lives. Lily explains the origin of "My Sister's Bookstore." Rick, in turn, shares some insights into the daily life of an architect.

[In black-and-white, Lily confesses that his words were lost on her. "All I could think of was: he has such beautiful hands."] As they leave the restaurant, Rick can no longer suppress his urge to kiss Lily. She returns his overture ravenously. On learning that they have only seventeen minutes until Lily must leave for home, Rick hurries her into the back seat of his cluttered SUV, where they resume their intense, almost desperate, kissing. Their idyll is quickly dispelled, however, by Lily's fear that passersby will see them. Sizing up their predicament, Lily comments, "We're like two kids with nowhere to go." Rick injects some levity by musing, in mock teen-speak, "My parents aren't home." Noting that her parents aren't so understanding, Lily adds, "My parents are fourteen and nine. How did that happen?"

Seeing how torn Lily is about having to leave, Rick assures her that no apology is necessary: "We're in the same boat." "Are we?" asks Lily, not quite convinced. A good-bye kiss precedes her questioning request, "Call me?" Another good-bye kiss accompanies Rick's nod of assent. Reluctantly tearing herself away, Lily pauses outside the open SUV door and gives Rick one last look of pained longing, punctuated by an exaggerated moan and a lip-licking swirl of her tongue. Slumped against the vehicle's back seat, Rick laughs, then sighs.

Rick returns to his apartment to find bookbags and jackets in the entryway. As he calls out "Eli? Jess?", his son descends the stairs wearing an unbuttoned shirt and a startled expression. Clearly surprised by his father's early arrival, he asks, awkwardly, "Can you, like, not come upstairs for a couple of minutes?" Signaling by uplifting of his eyebrows, he adds, "She's, like, really embarrassed." Getting the full picture, Rick instructs his son to take Jen home; they'll talk later.

After Eli and Jennifer slink out, Rick retrieves his phone messages. The perky voice of Lindsey issues forth, reminding him to call her.

[In his interview, Rick recalls that he first brought "a girl" back to his apartment three weeks after he moved out of his home. "I was so excited."]

Eli returns and sheepishly faces his dad, who says, "Eli, you lied to me." Eli protests that nothing happened, even though Jennifer had wanted it, and adds that he hadn't pushed her.

[Rick continues recalling his first post-marital sexual experience: "When it was over, all I could think was, when would she leave?" Afterward, he realized just how alone he was.]

Rick tells Eli he's not upset that the boy might have sex, But you can't do it this way, lying like this." Eli skeptically asks how Rick would react if Eli had sought permission to use the apartment for sex. Sure the answer would be no, he concludes, "Where should we do it, if you say it's all right with you?" The question stumps Rick.

Upstairs a short while later, Rick finally calls Lindsey. The conversation hasn't gotten far when another call comes through on Rick's line. Lily's voice softly jokes, "So I'm probably not supposed to call you." "Well, let me check the divorce manual on that," Rick kids back. Asking her to hold, Rick quickly dispatches Lindsey with a fake excuse about Jessie's homework and a flustered promise to call her the next day.

"I'm so sorry," Rick tells Lily, continuing the charade of Jessie's schoolwork. Their light repartee is just gathering steam when Rick's call-waiting beeps again. This time it's Karen, frantic to know where Eli is. Putting Karen on hold, Rick informs Lily that he's facing a "domestic situation," a scenario she readily empathizes with. Rick assures Lily he'll call the next day, then signs off with a playfully sexual "What are you wearing, by the way?" Embarrassed yet slightly titillated, Lily responds, "Shut up."

For no apparent reason Rick now lies to Karen, claiming he's been on the phone with his partner, David. Now a bit calmer about Eli, Karen pleads, "Just tell me he didn't come over to your apartment to have sex." Rick slumps, worn down with the strain of keeping his stories straight.

[Addressing the camera, Lily speaks of the difficulty she experiences when people pull away, even if the reason has nothing to do with her. "I guess I just take responsibility for everything," she concludes.]

The next day, Lily shares her insecurities with Judy at the bookstore. Her sister offers acerbic observations on the difference between what men say ("they like it when women call") and do ("they're lying"). On hearing that Lily is to see Rick for a second night in a row, Judy is momentarily impressed, but can't resist a final dig: "We'll see if he calls."

Meanwhile, Rick unburdens his guilt to David at a job site: "I lied to three women in the course of four minutes." Ever the cynic, David responds that women want to be lied to. He's less enthused than Judy about the prospect of consecutive-night dates. "Does that mean you're going steady?" he asks snidely. As Rick starts to hesitate about dating protocols, David loses patience and snaps, "Would you get a spine? Just sleep with her. Sleep with both of them." David, of course, will take whichever woman Rick discards - as long as it's Lindsey.

Later that afternoon, Rick phones Lily's house. Zoe, distractedly munching on a snack, agrees to tell her mom that he called.

In a school hallway, Eli encounters a despondent Jennifer. Finding her uncharacteristically cold to his embrace, he asks what's wrong. "Ask Grace Manning," she spits out, walking away.

In their respective homes, Rick and Lily pace and wait for the phone to ring. Finding Grace on the upstairs extension, Lily admonishes her to free the line. Grace informs Lily that she needs to visit Fashion Hill Mall to buy some bras. Zoe chimes in that she, too, requires a bra. Frustrated, Lily shouts at Grace, "Get off the phone!"

Rick's daughter Jessie affects a more cheerful form of torture. "Are you calling the mom?" she asks with a sly grin.

But busy signals and missed call-waiting are the order of the day. Defeated, Lily rounds up the girls for Fashion Hill, muttering, "I could use some bras myself." Rick calls again, but with Lily and her girls already out the door, he's greeted only by their cheery voices on the answering machine.

This round of telephone tag finally ends the next morning when Rick reaches Lily at the bookstore. "So you didn't not call me?" Lily discerns, schoolgirl relief in her voice. Her spirits continue to rise when Rick suggests she slip away for lunch with him. "I can wait...five minutes," he teases.

At the high school, Graces rounds a hallway corner with her friends, lamenting all the demands on her time. Suddenly, Eli approaches and pulls her aside. Fumbling his words at first, he finally confronts Grace, asking "Why would you say that your parents 'caught us' at your house?" With an involuntary laugh of incredulity, Grace sets the record straight: it was she who "caught" Eli's father and her own mother, "headed in that direction." "No kidding," responds Eli, as he and Grace exchange half-knowing, half-embarrassed grins.

Lunchtime finds Rick and Lily at an outdoor cafè, giddy and nervous as teens. They've just begun to speculate how they can spend the evening now that "Back to School Night" has been canceled when Rick hears a familiar female voice behind him. Rising abruptly, he spills Lily's water glass in her lap. Completely embarrassed, he stammers an introduction, calling Lindsey "an old friend" and business associate, but identifying Lily merely as "Lily." Handling the situation with more aplomb, the two women exchange brief pleasantries. Lindsey's parting comment "Isn't he the greatest?" does little to assuage Rick's discomfort. Even though Lily assures him that he needn't explain anything, she sucks her drink through its straw with unusual vehemence.

That afternoon, Lily arrives home just as Jake pulls up to take the girls for dinner. [In black-and-white, Lily admits that when she met Jake, she initially found his good looks off-putting. Still, she couldn't get him out of her mind.] On the doorstep, Jake's slick compliments about her appearance make Lily uncomfortable.

Unease abounds as well at the high school where Eli tracks down Jennifer. He briskly corrects her misinformation regarding who "caught" whom, adding "Ask Grace Manning." When Jennifer admits she knew the original rumor couldn't have been true, Eli asks why she was mad. Jennifer explains that it could have been true, "because you're a guy...and you could do it with anyone and you wouldn't care." Eli protests that this isn't true, and assures Jennifer that if she isn't ready, he'll wait. Still dubious, Jennifer asks, "For how long?"

Pacing his office, Rick laments to David about the awkward lunchtime encounter. David again urges his partner to sleep with Lily, adding, "Maybe she'll be terrible," and asking, "How's her body? She's had two kids." When Rick protests that he likes that Lily has had children, David snickers, "You're so evolved."

Across town, Judy listens while Lily fretfully prepares for that night's date. She fears the relationship is moving too quickly and wonders what message her actions have sent him. "Slut," Judy helpfully supplies. Insecure about her body, and unsure whether Rick is still sleeping with Lindsey, Lily seems to be waiting for Judy to talk her out of seeing Rick that evening. She finally reaches that conclusion herself and with prodding and hand signals from Judy, leaves a vague "something came up" cancellation message on Rick's home answering machine.

After Rick has glumly retrieved the message, Eli arrives and bemoans the difficulty of figuring out what females really want. Rick suggests that Jennifer was likely scared by the prospect of having sex for the first time. While men, he tells his son, are worried "about the moment and whether it will go... OK," women are concerned about "what comes after." He counsels his son to let Jennifer decide, but quickly adds that "they don't always know when they're ready." At some point, Rick contends, "they just need you to be the guy." But accepting that role, he warns Eli, carries responsibilities. "Otherwise, you're just another jerk trying to get laid."

Reflecting on his fatherly words of advice, Rick comes to realize that they apply to his own situation with Lily. Minutes later, he is on her doorstep, quelling her embarrassment by saying calmly and softly, "You got scared." Reluctantly admitting that this is true, Lily is relieved to hear Rick say that he thinks they should still go out. As they reach his SUV, Rick rattles off a list of cuisines they could have for dinner. When Lily instead says, "Let's go to your house," it's Rick's turn to glow with reassurance.

At Rick's apartment, he offers to order in or cook up something, noting, "I have... breakfast cereal." Lily asks how weird it was when he moved out. "The weirdest ever," Rick replies before moving in to kiss her neck. Soon they are grappling on the couch. When Lily pauses to profess "a sudden aversion" to having sex in the living room, Rick leads her to his bedroom.

[In black-and-white, Lily recalls sleeping with three men before Jake, but claims that one didn't count because "it was homecoming and we were pretty out of it."]

Rick sits before Lily on his bed and kisses her stomach, eliciting a gasp and a disclaimer: "You understand that I'm not ready to..." "Of course," Rick responds, pulling her to him. But Lily is still unsure. "Who ARE you?" she asks, adding that she and Rick know nothing about each other, including their assumptions about life. For example -- "Who is Lindsey?" Rick interjects. He haltingly starts to explain his relationship with her, but Lily cuts to the chase: "I just need to know if you're sleeping together." Hearing Rick's "Not any more," Lily feels relieved and comfortable enough to share her trepidations about the modern dating world. Cautiously exposing his own vulnerability, Rick confesses that from the first moment he saw Lily, "I didn't care about anybody else."

[As they undress, Lily recalls Jake's patience at the start of their relationship. "The things we did..." She also loved being pregnant, calling it "such permission to be a woman." The aftermath, however, was "all these stretch marks." Rick also recalls his ex-wife's first pregnancy and how he "couldn't get enough of her" during that time.]

Their naked bodies entwined in passionate embrace on the bed, Lily asks Rick, "Do you have something?" Answering affirmatively-- "actually, they're my son's" -- Rick slips into the bathroom to retrieve a condom.

[Addressing the camera, Lily recalls an early sign that Jake was cheating on her: a credit card charge from a downtown hotel, about which she did nothing.] As Rick returns, he and Lily banter about their disdain for "these things" while he unwraps the condom.

[In black-and-white, Rick speaks of Karen's growing disillusionment with him after Jessie was born. "I was disappointing her every day."]

Rick and Lily begin to make love, but Lily's memories intrude. [She accepts responsibility for not dealing with Jake's infidelity. Rick, too, feels the burden of his failure to provide Karen what she needed.]

Feeling Lily's lack of responsiveness, Rick momentarily becomes impotent and has to pause. Crying from humiliation, Lily apologizes. Rick tries to convince her that she's not to blame, but Lily's frustration continues to flow as she whimpers, "I don't know why letting a man touch me feels so dangerous." Rick gently offers that perhaps it's the wrong man. "Oh, God, no," Lily replies, looking him straight in the eyes. "You're not the wrong man."

The rest is too painful for eye contact. With Rick lying close behind her, Lily admits that Jake's actions destroyed her self-esteem. As Rick gently rocks and comforts her, Lily softly sobs, "How is it possible that you might be who I need you to be?" Rick has no answer. But as they continue clinging to one another, their bodies begin to respond to this new level of emotional intimacy. Feeling Rick's arousal, a heartened Lily lightly jests, "Hellooooo?" Smiling, he says, "Be quiet," as Lily turns to embrace and kiss him.

Afterward, lying peacefully in Rick's arms, Lily asks, "Can I say that I'm not altogether displeased that this happened?" She babbles happily as Rick smiles and kisses her. Finally she announces, "Okay, I'm shutting up now." Continuing to smother her with kisses, Rick gleefully responds, "Thank God."

The End

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