Once and Again...Once Again
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Summary of Mystery Dance
by Jill Adams
edited by Elizabeth Eccher
["I can't believe it. I mean, I can believe it -- it's just unbelievable," laments Judy, recalling her love life of late to the camera.]
Judy is sitting in a noisy crowded bar waiting for her date to return with her drink. She is evidently not enjoying the atmosphere. "Isn't this great?" Judy's date exclaims. "Yeah, I only wish it could be louder and more crowded," Judy answers.
Next day, we find Judy and Lily in Lily's bathroom. While Lily is scrubbing away at her bathtub, Judy puts away some towels. "I feel like I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel here. Do you have any idea what that's like?" asks Judy, not waiting for Lily to reply. "Maybe I'm not being picky enough. Maybe I'm being too picky. What do you think?" Lily begins to comment but Judy interrupts again, "Am I wrong to have some criteria?"
Another date, this one seems better than the first. Judy and her date are walking back to her apartment after an evening at the ballet. All appears to be going well until the goodnight kiss when he makes a sudden move to clumsily grope her ass. A disgusted Judy walks away.
"Maybe it's me. Maybe I attract weirdos. I'm like, what do they call that in physics? A magnet? A strange attractant?" Judy is again complaining to Lily, this time in the bookstore. Lily retorts, "A victim?"
Judy is reading something on her laptop, smiling. She is in a chat room making plans to meet her unknown cyber-paramour, Jean-Paul.
As she sips her cosmopolitan at the bar, Judy glances around for her date, noticing an attractive young man from across the room. Alas, this is not Jean-Paul. Jean-Paul arrives, a 60-something cowboy type. Thwarted again.
Strolling through an open house at an art gallery, Judy and Lily are continuing the conversation about Judy's purported dreadful lovelife. Checking out the modern steel sculpture on display, Judy looks up to see Rick and another man walk into the gallery. She notes this to Lily who is clearly tickled to see Rick. Lily and Rick embrace while Rick introduces his friend Sam Blue to the sisters. Sam is the sculptor/owner of the gallery and proceeds to chat with Judy a bit about the art while Lily and Rick coo and kiss. Sam is working on commissioned artwork for the building Rick is designing. As Rick and Lily continue with their public display of affection, Sam observes to Judy, "You know how the couple who seem like they have the best sex life is really the most troubled?" Judy agrees, "Sure, they're overcompensating." Rick and Lily smile. Sam leaves to speak to some interested art patrons.
Having departed the exhibit, Judy is under the hood of her car, tinkering with the engine when Sam Blue drives up. He asks her if she needs help with a jump-start. Judy begins rattling off about distributor caps and spark plugs and coils. Sam looks befuddled. He offers her a ride home. As they drive away, Judy begins to tell him about her history of art school and her patterns of never finishing what she starts. Sam seems to appreciate her candor. When Judy finds an unidentifiable sandwich-like object wedged in the car seat, they share a laugh. Sam offers encouragement for Judy to follow her dreams.
[Judy again speaks to the camera. She is making a list of signs to watch out for that a guy might not be the right one. "If he chews with his mouth open. He takes a big handful of mints when you leave the restaurant. He forgets your birthday. He forgets your name. Oh and I am adamant about this one. If he doesn't like hot cocoa. But, on the other hand, if he knows exactly what to say."]
The doorbell rings. Sam Blue is at Judy's door, stammering about rephrasing something he wanted to say to her. He admits that when he was giving advice about Judy's career plans, in fact he was talking about himself. Judy invites him in for cocoa, then realizes she has no milk. She offers him wine instead. They talk awkwardly for a few moments but Sam begs away when Judy asks him to take off his coat. [Something is happening here as evidenced by Judy's B&W: "And if he doesn't kiss you, but you feel like you've been kissed."]
At the office of Sammler and Caselli, Sam, Rick and Miles Drentell discuss Sam's artwork. Rick is designing a new office building for Miles who is a difficult and demanding client. Sam is supposed to be creating a sculpture for this building but Miles is not satisfied with the ideas Sam has offered thus far. After offending Sam's artistic vision, Miles leaves. Rick asks Sam if he is okay with this joint venture and though Sam concedes that they have lost their youthful idealistic principles, they can joke about "selling out."
Back at the bookstore, Lily asks Judy to finish up with the work so that she can sneak out for a date with Rick. Judy agrees and asks Lily to ask Rick about his friend, Sam. After Lily has left, Judy is quietly reading at the cash register only to glance up and see Sam Blue looking into the bookstore window. Sam awkwardly jabbers something about looking for a book and asks Judy is she has anything by a Swedish modernist poet, Karl Vennberg. When Judy admits she has never heard of Vennberg, Sam quickly owns up that he has never read anything by him anyway. They flirt innocently and discuss another poem from a book called Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. Judy looks for a copy of the book but is unable to locate it. Sam leaves after randomly purchasing a few books but immediately returns into the store. "I have not been able to get you out of my mind. I don't know what to do about you," Sam says to Judy, and they begin to kiss.
At Rick's house, Rick is giving Lily a back massage as she tells him of her troubles with mediation. She leans back to kiss him and he pulls away. Clearly, he is still thinking about Jake and the infidelity issue but is not ready to talk about it. Lily tells Rick that they need time together and Rick blandly agrees, not wanting to discuss the difficult subject. As he resumes massaging Lily's neck, she remembers Judy's request to ask him about Sam.
Meanwhile, Sam returns Judy to her apartment but is unable to stay. Judy retreats to the bathtub. She is soaking amidst the bubbles and candles when the phone rings. It is Lily calling to chat. When Lily tells her that Sam is married, "very married, whatever that means," Judy is duly shocked. She recovers to tell an oblivious Lily that she must get off the phone to remove her mud mask. She slinks under the bathwater to absorb this terrible bit of news.
["I'm thirty-five, I'm thirty-five, thirty-five, I'm thirty-five, thirty-five." Judy bemoans in B&W.]
The next day, Sam returns to the bookstore only to find a furious Judy. He tries to explain but she is not interested in hearing his excuses. Sam leaves when Lily arrives at work. Lily senses something is amiss. When Lily asks if Judy slept with Sam, Judy says, "No, but I might has well have." Lily starts in with the big sisterly advice, which is not what Judy wants to hear at the moment.
Meanwhile, Rick is talking via webcam with Miles about materials for the building design. Miles is pressuring Rick about Sam again but Rick begs off.
At Judy's apartment, the answering machine picks up a message from Sam. He is asking for a chance to explain. After a short message from Lily, the next message is from Judy's mom who has given her number to a friend's son, a pharmacist. The fourth message is again from Sam. Judy cuts it off and hits the erases button.
Lily meets Rick at Canetti's Seafood Grotto for a dinner date. She quickly brings up the topic of Sam and Judy and the conversation turns into a mild argument. Rick doesn't want to talk about it and Lily continues to press. Lily brings up the uncomfortable topic from the previous date asking, "Is that what this is about?" Rick sorely responds, "It is now." When Lily pushes, he angrily admits that he can't stop thinking about where Lily had sex with Jake and that he can't stop picturing her "with this expression on her face."
Late at night, we hear the answering machine in Judy's apartment, this time Sam is asking for just "five more minutes" to talk to her. Judy, in bed but not asleep, picks up the phone and consents.
The next morning Lily and her girls are snuggling in bed while elsewhere, Rick arrives at Sam's studio. Rick and Sam chat about work for a moment until Rick skips to the chase and asks about his wife. Angrily, Sam retorts that this dalliance between Judy and himself is none of Rick's business. Sam tells Rick that this is the first time he has ever felt this way and he is not about to let the moment go by.
Again, Sam returns to the bookstore to see Judy. He begins to try to explain his actions but Judy is not terribly receptive until he explains that this has nothing to do with her -- it was a coincidence that he met her while he was discovering his marriage was over. He tells her that he thinks she needs to know that she was truly wanted. He gives her the poetry book that they talked about, marking a particular poem, George Gray.
Another short webphone conversation takes place between Rick and Miles. Miles is asking Rick again about Samuel. Rick tells Miles to give Sam some space to do his work while Miles, not listening, says he should pay Sam a visit. "Did you hear what I just said?" Rick asks. Miles smugly replies, "Yes. I did. Did you hear what I just said?" It is obviously a battle of wits with Miles.
Lily arrives at work to find a sad and depressed Judy polishing the cappuccino machine in the empty bookstore. This time Lily senses Judy's angst and gives her sister a hug. Judy confesses her fears about never finding the right man while Lily tries to be supportive and comforting. "I want to get married and I want to have kids, I want all those things, how do I get them?" she asks. Lily holds her and replies truthfully, "I wish I knew."
Later that evening, Lily is trying to do her family budget for the mediation when Rick arrives at her house. She is pleased to have him show up and admits she misses him when she feels like they have been fighting. Rick half-jokingly replies, "Did we fight? I don't remember." Lily smiles. Rick continues, "It's confusing to have something to say and to not say it." "What do you want to say?" Lily asks worriedly. Rick replies, "That I love you very much. And that I can't live without you." Obviously relieved, Lily moves to him and kisses him deeply.
Judy is sitting on her couch reading the book Sam gave her. Sam's voice begins the poem, George Gray, "I have studied many times the marble which was chiseled for me," and Judy continues in voice over, "A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor. In truth it pictures not my destination but my life." Judy closes the book and puts it down. She gets up and walks around beginning to clean up her loft. "For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment; Sorrow knocked on my door, but I was afraid; Ambition called to me but I dreaded the chances. Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life. And now I know that we must lift the sail and catch the winds of destiny wherever they drive the boat." Judy drops a dish on the floor and it shatters. She starts to clean it up. "To put meaning in one's life may end in madness, but life without meaning is the torture of restlessness and vague desire. It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid." Judy moves to the phone and after a pause, begins to dial.
In darkness, Lily kisses Rick slowly and deeply as they begin to make love on the sofa.
Judy opens the door. Sam enters and for a moment they look tentatively at each other before they begin to passionately kiss.
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