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Once and Again...Once Again




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SUMMARY OF "ONE STEP (PARENT) BACKWARD"

Written by Angela Stockton

Edited by Elizabeth Angela

Judy and Lily are sharing lunch at WIXBís studio. Lily asks Judy how Sam is and adds teasingly, "Are you pregnant yet?" She professes not to understand why Judy, having received her doctorís assurance that sheís fertile and her eggs are in excellent condition, isnít rushing to put them to use. "We just got back together!" Judy reminds her.

Sam and Rick are also having lunch together. "Judy and Sam. Sam and Judy," Rick says, as if acclimating his ears to the sound. When Sam mentions that heís taking Judy to his cabin for the weekend, Rick pretends not to understand what his friend is saying. At the same moment, Judy shares this same news with Lily, who wishes that she and Rick had a cabin. This comes as a surprise to Judy, who isnít used to Lilyís being jealous of her.

Judy also says that Sam is bringing Jamie to dinner at her apartment that night. She admits to being nervous about meeting Jamie, but hopes that he likes her. "Why wouldnít Jamie like you?" Lily asks. Sam shares his own misgivings with Rick about the meeting, but tries to convince himself that it will go well, asking, "Why wouldnít he like her?"

At Booklovers, Jake is training a new employee, Nina, to operate the coffee station. When she bends over, his gaze lingers on her so long that Tiffany, holding baby Maddie, canít help noticing when she walks in. Jake awkwardly introduces Tiffany to Nina as Tiffany reminds him that she has a yoga lesson and that he promised to baby-sit Maddie.

Although Nina dutifully admires Maddie, she seems taken aback at the fact that Jake is a father. Ironically, it is Nina who first notices that Maddie needs her diaper changed. Eli saunters over to the coffee station, volunteering to help Nina while Jake tends to Maddie. Through his office window, Jake watches Nina and Eli and is somewhat perturbed at how well they take to each other.

That evening Jamie and Sam arrive at Judyís apartment. Smiling brightly, Judy announces sheís made a lot of finger food. Both the term "finger food" and a reference to the childrenís book heroine Eloise go over Jamieís head. Trying to help, Sam points out to Jamie that Judy has a hammock. Eagerly, Jamie leaps into the hammock and asks if they can eat there.

Meanwhile, Nina, in charge of the coffee machine, allows it to overheat. While trying to turn it off, she burns her hand. Hurrying over to help, Jake examines her hand and advises her to run cold water on it. Eli strolls over to see the damage for himself. Jake is irked at Eliís interest and when Nina leaves to tend to her injury, he abruptly orders Eli to take over for her.

Next day Judy arrives at Samís as heís still packing for their weekend at the cabin. The phone rings. ["Donít answer that," Judy warns.] Judyís apprehension is borne out when Sam says, "Hi, Jeannine." From what she overhears, Judy deduces that Jeannine is asking Sam for a favor. ["Donít freak him out, youíre fertile," Judy reminds herself.] Sam hangs up and confirms that the caller was Jeannine, and that she needs Sam to take Jamie for that night. ["Whatever," Judy mutters.] Putting on a brave face, Judy says she understands. "Youíre not disappointed?" Sam asks; "No," she replies. "Are you lying?" he continues; "Yeah," she laughs, chagrined.

When Judy says she should go before Jeannine and Jamie arrive, Sam tells her that theyíre already there: Jeannine called from her car. Judy hides in the bedroom just before Samís doorbell rings.

Sam and Jeannine make stilted conversation as sheís handing over Jamie. Jeannine kisses the boy good-bye and closes the door. Thinking the coast is clear, Judy emerges from the bedroom, only to have Jeannine suddenly walk back in and see her. Even Jamie is uncomfortable as Sam introduces his wife to his mistress. As Jeannine leaves again, Jamie climbs into his new loft bed and turns his back to Sam and Judy.

Jake arrives at Booklovers to find the coffee station unattended. Searching for Nina, he hears titters coming from behind a door and, opening it, finds Nina and Eli inside, wrapped around each other. As Nina slithers past Jake, Eli quips, "Guess my breakís over."

Fighting to conceal her boredom, Judy watches Sam and Jamie play a video game. She tries to make conversation with Jamie, but he does his best to ignore her. Sam excuses himself to talk to Judy, who asks if Jamie should be playing that game. ["Sheís nagging me," Sam grumbles; "Iím nagging him," Judy berates herself.] She offers to leave, but Sam urges her to stay.

Near closing time at Booklovers, Jake takes a call from Tiffany. Sheís concerned that Maddie, whoís sneezing, may be sick. Jake assures her that itís probably not serious and that heíll be there soon. As he hangs up, Eli approaches him to apologize for his earlier snog with Nina, but Jake, in no mood to dwell on this topic, merely gives him a mild warning not to let it happen again. "She just came on to me so intensely. Sheís just so sexy," Eli explains tactlessly, discomfiting Jake all over again.

At his apartment, Sam supervises while Jamie brushes his teeth before bed. The boy refers to Judy as "your friend," whines that she is staying too long, and says that he was faking when he acted as if he liked her. ["Didnít see that one coming," Sam sighs.] As he crawls into his loft, Jamie complains that he doesnít want to go to bed that early. "Youíve had enough gamma rays for one night," Sam answers, tucking him in.

When Sam returns to Judy, she says, "I like him," but he canít conceal the strain in his face. To explain it, Sam lies that heís afraid Jamie might have trouble falling asleep. Taking the hint, Judy kisses Sam good-night and leaves.

Next morning, when the hungry Sammlers and Mannings discover that theyíre out of cereal and bread, Lily starts for the door to buy bagels. At that moment Judy calls, surprising Lily, who expected her to be at Samís cabin. When Judy explains the change of plans, Lily invites her to brunch and extends the invitation to Jamie and Sam.

As Rick comes to see why Lily hasnít left yet, she explains that sheís been talking to Judy, and mentions the brunch invitation. Rick is apprehensive because heís sure it canít be easy for Sam, Judy and Jamie to forge a relationship. She reminds him that Judy has invested a lot in Sam and is eager to start her family. "How can you criticize her for that?" she asks him.

"When did this become about me?" he counters. She shares with him Samís flowery promise to Judy to "build houses for you." Lapsing into architect jargon, Rick points out that building houses takes time: "It takes plans, it takes permits, you have to accept bids from contractorsÖ." Exasperated, Lily finally leaves for the grocery.

After spending the night at Tiffanyís apartment, Jake begins his day by searching, in vain, for coffee in her kitchen. Tiffany remarks that Maddie slept well and hints that the reason may be that she was comforted by Jake's presence. With Maddie's health improving, Tiffany says sheís going to take the baby to the park later that day. She invites Jake to join them, but when he mumbles an excuse about needing to catch up on paperwork, she laments, "Uh-oh, Jakeís back." To Jakeís protests, she answers mildly, "We donít want to make you feel guilty. Iím happy you came over last night and I know you need your space."

Judy, Sam and Jamie arrive at Lily and Rickís. When everyone is seated around the table for brunch, Jamie finds himself between Sam and Judy, who urges food on him. He curtly refuses ["Donít push," she coaches herself], and Sam reminds him to say "No, thank you." Sam tells Eli that Jamie is thinking of taking guitar lessons. Judy leaps onto this new topic with enthusiasm which Jamie senses is forced, and his replies are terse. ["Whatís happening to me? Iím turning into my Aunt Sophie," Judy groans, appalled at how patronizing she sounds.] Grace, Zoe and Jessie start bickering. Rick and Lily silence them and Lily quickly offers seconds on the bagels. ["What am I doing, who am I kidding? I should just donate my eggs to science," Judy mourns.]

Jake drops into a tavern where Jerri, the attractive bartender, greets him with a kiss. When she asks him whatís new, he admits that he just had a baby. "Iíve missed you around here," she tells him, and as they reminisce about old times, she maneuvers him into offering her a ride home when her shift ends.

With brunch over, Judy is at the sink, making coffee, when Sam comes in for a quick nuzzle. Jamie approaches her with a stack of five plates which, to Judy, looks too unwieldy for him. She tries to take the stack from him but he jerks it away from her. The plates slip out of his hands, fall to the floor, and four of them break. Hysterically, Jamie shouts, "You made me drop them! You did it because you wouldnít shut up! You never shut up! You never shut up!" He throws down the fifth plate, shattering it as well, and runs out of the kitchen.

"Iím sorry," Sam mutters helplessly. Judy grimly stoops to clean up the mess, declining offers of help from both Sam and Lily.

Jake drives Jerri to her apartment building. When she invites him up, he laughs nervously and stammers, "Iím not sure if I can right now, for some reason." She accepts his turndown with equanimity, but once sheís gone, Jake beats his forehead against the steering wheel in frustration.

Judy accompanies Sam and Jamie back to Samís apartment, where Sam prepares to take his son back to Jeannine. He ignores Jamieís pleas to stay longer, reminding the boy that he has school and that he canít go to the cabin. Jamie pointedly does not speak to Judy any more than heís required to and asks rudely, "Is she going to the cabin?"

The phone rings. ["Of course," Judy says in disgust.] The caller is Jeannine, who asks Sam not to bring Jamie back to her place because she is still out of town and canít come back until the next day. Hearing his irritation, she asks, "Do you think Iím doing this on purpose?"

"Frankly, yes," he snaps.

"How about I call my brother and he can come pick Jamie up. Unless of course you canít take care of your son," she sneers. [Sam mutely holds up his bound hands.] He concedes defeat, telling Jamie that he has to stay over one more night.

Judy, who has overheard enough, angrily starts toward the door, Sam behind her. "She gets what she wants and he gets what he wants, but do you ever get what you want, or do I?" she demands. Sam pleads with her to understand, that Jeannine is looking for any excuse to take Jamie away from him. [Judy insists that sheís trying to understand.]

Judy says that she has reservations about getting involved with a man whose son doesnít want him involved with any woman other than his mother, and that just because she likes Jamie, thatís no guarantee heíll ever like her. ["Do something, anything, tell me it will all work out. Please--hold me!" she pleads, her voice close to breaking.] Sam shakes his head and says nothing. Judy leaves, and Sam and Jamie stare at each other.

Later that morning, Judy walks into Lilyís kitchen and sits in silence until Lily asks whatís wrong. [Judy describes what was "supposed" to happen in her life: she was going to get married in her thirty-first year in a park in Chicago, sheíd have two kids in two years, sheíd be a photographer who combined family and career with aplomb. "And my husband would be..." she gropes for the right word.] She confesses to Lily that she has no idea what sheís doing; how can she be a mother, she wonders, if she canít handle someone elseís child. She canít help comparing herself to Lily, who mothers stepchildren "effortlessly."

Lily claims that itís not as hard as it seems: "You just have to give up...everything." As Lily hugs her and assures her that sheíll be a great mom, Judy bursts into tears.

Sam passes the day in his studio, where Jamie is also sketching. Jamie asks his father if heís going to marry Judy and have another child. "I donít know," Sam answers to both. Jamie asks if that means that Sam will get back together with his mother, but Sam answers with a firm no. "What am I supposed to do?" Jamie asks. ["Good question," Sam concedes.]

Sam advises him to put all his feelings into his pictures. "Wonít Judy be mad?" Jamie asks. "Not if it makes you happy. Of course, if you draw her being pulled apart by wolverines, you might want to run it by me first," Sam jokes.

Jamie says he doesnít hate Judy, he was just mad. "Thanks for telling me," Sam replies dryly.

That afternoon, Jake finds Tiffany and Maddie in the park. Although Tiffany is pleasantly surprised to see him, she says that she doesnít want him to feel burdened by her and their daughter, that she wants him to be as happy with them as they are with him. He says heís there because he wants to be with them. "What about tomorrow?" Tiffany asks.

"Can we just talk about today?" he proposes; "OK for now," Tiffany answers. At his suggestion that they go indoors, out of the cold, they leave the park together, Jake pushing Maddieís stroller.

["And my husband would be..." Judy ponders.] Sam goes to Judyís apartment. She asks what theyíre going to do about Jamie. He says he doesnít know, that he envisioned a different setting for the three of them, one with picket fences and not quite as wild as her apartment. "And maybe someday..." he begins. ["Donít say it, donít even bring it up!" Sam coaches himself. "Donít say it, donít even bring it up!" Judy echoes.] "Weíll add to the group, maybe?" Judy asks hopefully.

"I want Jamie to like you. Iím sorry I have all this baggage," he begins, but Judy slides into his arms. He smirks that they have time before they have to start for the cabin, but Judy suggests that instead of going to the cabin, they "camp out" in her apartment instead. Sam jumps into her hammock and promptly rolls back out, landing on the floor. ["And my husband would be...there," Judy finishes.] Playfully, Judy pounces on him.

The End




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