Once and Again...Once Again

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Summary of Standing Room Only

by Angela Stockton
edited by Elizabeth Angela

Lily and Rick are at a supper club, reveling in the freedom to be openly affectionate with each other and for Lily to wear her new engagement ring. "See anybody we know?" he teases her.

"Shut up!" she teases him back.

"How dare we be happy? Are we really allowed to do this?" Rick wonders, kissing her. "Let's never tell anybody."

"They might get suspicious when we move in together," Lily jests. Their conversation turns to the unromantic topic of their future living arrangements, Rick suggesting that they buy a new house. Lily reminds him that they can't afford a new house, and complains that she can't understand why Rick is afraid to move into hers. "Because yours is not big enough, and because it has Jake cooties," he answers. Lily promises him that they'll make the house bigger, then pulls him to his feet, eager to dance.

On the dance floor they bump into an elderly couple, to whom Rick impulsively announces that he and Lily are engaged. "Mazel tov!" the woman replies joyously. Rick and Lily explain that the Jewish couple are the first people they've told, that even their children don't know yet. Realizing that it's a second marriage for both Rick and Lily, the wife advises them to tell their exes first, because "it will show the children that you respect the other parent."

While Rick and Lily are enjoying their night on the town, Grace is with Jake at Phil's, where the dinner crowd is so thin that there are more tables empty than occupied. "People will come back," she consoles her father, trying to convince him that the recent hostage incident is only a temporary setback. Though he's less optimistic, he's touched that she cares enough to try to cheer him up.

Exuding contentment that even the sight of the nearly empty restaurant can't dampen, Tiffany walks in and asks Grace how she is. Grace grumbles that she couldn't get out of school that day because "they" made her see a trauma counselor. "I need a trauma counselor to get through a regular day," Tiffany giggles, and bestows a kiss on Jake, who doesn't seem equally happy to see her. Tiffany asks Jake if he has any crackers, but when Grace offers to bring them from the kitchen, she leaves, saying she needs the bathroom anyway.

Alone with her father again, Grace asks him if he and Tiffany are getting back together. Not willing to admit that Tiffany is pregnant, Jake avoids giving his daughter a direct answer. Grace goes to the ladies' room and finds Tiffany in a stall, throwing up and muttering that it must be morning in China. Seeing Grace's bewilderment, Tiffany explains that Jake doesn't want to tell anyone yet, but "since I practically threw up on your shoe and you're a smart girl and I had to tell somebody," she tells Grace that she is pregnant. To Grace's question about a possible marriage, she replies wistfully, "Answer cloudy, ask again later."

When Jake drives Grace home that night, he deduces from her strained silence that she knows about Tiffany's condition. He asks Grace not to tell her mother or Zoe because he should be the one to break the news.

Rick and Lily kiss goodnight in his SUV and discuss when they should break the news of their engagement to the children. He wants to spend the night with her, but Lily proposes that they make the announcement at breakfast the next day, followed by his coming for dinner and staying over. "Kids first, not exes?" Rick asks. When Jake and Grace pull up alongside them, Lily quickly takes off her engagement ring.

In the morning, over breakfast at their respective homes, Rick and Lily tell their children that they're getting married. The children react neither with joy nor surprise, Zoe saying, "Mom, duh!" The most enthusiastic is Eli, who views the wedding as a potential gig for his band. Jessie is upset that they'll be moving in with Lily instead of into a new house. Grace and Zoe offer their mother lukewarm congratulations which Lily, bursting with pride at their calm acceptance of her news, doesn't even recognize as a not-quite-ringing endorsement.

After breakfast, Lily goes to Phil's, where she encounters Tiffany. Bubbling with excitement, Tiffany starts talking about her pregnancy while Lily talks about her engagement. Since each wrongly assumes that the other is on the same wavelength, they only become more and more confused. When Lily finally realizes that Tiffany is pregnant, and Tiffany that Lily is engaged, they're astounded.

As they've arranged, Rick stays over at Lily's that night. Preparing to go to bed, they undress and Lily is surprised when, instead of hanging up his clothes, Rick merely throws them over a chair. They tumble onto the bed in each other's arms, only to be interrupted by Zoe knocking on the door. Rick dives under the covers as she enters, explaining that she forgot her hairbrush. She picks up the brush from Lily's dresser and leaves.

While Rick is in the bathroom, Lily hears giggling outside the door and matter-of-factly calls, "Come in and get it over with -- bring your sleeping bags!" The girls open the door, Zoe pointing to Grace and insisting, "She made me do it!" Lily arranges her daughters on the bed, calls to Rick, and "introduces" him and the girls, saying, "Girls, this is Rick in his underwear. Get used to it," before she sends them back out of the room.

Rick tries to settle into the bed, but although he finds it too soft for comfort, he lies that it's a nice bed. Not fooled, Lily jokes, "That's OK, because we'll never have sex in it." "What's sex?" Rick wisecracks, just before Lily kisses him as if trying to refresh his memory.

In the morning, while Rick makes waffles for breakfast, he suggests that he might put a board under his side of the bed. Zoe takes her plate to the table in the breakfast nook, which she promptly spills her waffles on architectural drawings left there by Rick. When Rick and Lily are finally alone in the kitchen, they share a long kiss, unaware that they're being watched by Jake, who didn't knock when he entered through the laundry room. Once they notice him, he awkwardly offers his congratulations. While Rick attempts to make small talk with Jake, he forgets about the waffle he's baking and burns it.

Rick visits Karen at her office to tell her about his engagement. Karen is surprised, and their conversation -- about the children's reaction, and setting the date -- is stilted. She has a faraway look in her eyes after he's left.

At Phil's, Jake is worriedly totaling the meager lunch receipts when Tiffany tries to ask him what she's supposed to do -- go home with him, for instance. He tells her it's OK if she comes along, insisting that he wants her to. She suddenly remembers to tell him that she's made her first appointment with her obstetrician for Thursday, and she asks him to come along. He agrees with forced cheerfulness, allowing his worry to overtake him again when Tiffany isn't looking.

That night, the Sammlers and Mannings have dinner together, each lost in his or her own thoughts. [To the camera, Lily wonders why she made yams when no one likes them. Rick exclaims, "I hate yams!" Grace says she's still not clear on where Eli is going to sleep. Jessie sighs, "So now I'm gonna have three more people sitting there staring at me at every meal to see if I'm eating. Great!" Eli grumbles, "The house smells like candles, like aromatherapy stuff, like...women." Hopeful Zoe says, "I don't care. In fact, maybe I'll even get bunk beds out of the deal."]

After dinner, Rick and Lily herd the children upstairs for a tour of the bedrooms. When it appears that Jessie will have to share Zoe's room, Zoe asks Jessie what she thinks of bunk beds. "Cool," Jessie lies. "So, am I sharing the small room with Grace?" Eli smirks, to Grace's annoyance. Rick and Lily tell him that they're thinking of fixing up a garage apartment for him.

When they reach the master bedroom, Rick proposes that he install his drafting table in the living room, where Lily now has her desk. When Lily asks where her desk will go, he suggests putting it in front of the bedroom fireplace, which is never lit anyway. Though Lily acquiesces, her heart isn't in it.

On the ride home to Rick's apartment, Jessie sullenly declares, "I'm not gonna share a bunk bed with a ten-year-old." Eli tells his father that they don't need to fix up the garage, because he'll either get his own place or live with Karen. Rick insists that they can make their new arrangement work, and asks Jessie and Eli to stick with him.

In their respective bedrooms, Lily and Rick talk over the phone, comparing notes. "Bunk beds! What were you thinking when that came out of your mouth?" she exclaims. "I wasn't thinking," he concedes. She yields to him on the issue of her desk, but when he says that they need a larger armoire, she sulks, "I like my armoire." As he sees more trouble ahead, Rick's face clouds over.

Next day, Rick is moving furniture into Lily's house when Grace and Spencer arrive. Asked how he's feeling, Spencer cheerfully replies, "I'm being told what to feel by the school trauma counselor, so there's nothing for me to worry about." While trying to help Rick, the boy strikes him in the groin with the corner of a table. Through clenched teeth, Rick assures the teens that he's all right, but as he painfully hobbles into the foyer, he notices that in their haste to reach the kitchen, Grace and Spencer have left a set of "Stop Atlantor Now!" picket signs by the stairs.

That evening, Rick starts moving furniture in Lily's bedroom. He puts her desk in the corner, forcing him to "temporarily" move her exercise bike to the bathroom. When he starts to move a chair, she stuns him by shrieking "No!" and insisting that she has to picture a new arrangement in her mind before things can be moved for real. He recommends that they replace the desk with a computer stand. "Then where will the desk go?" she asks. "Where you need it," he replies. "I thought I needed it under the computer!" she retorts. "But I guess I was wrong."

At the bookstore the next day, Lily complains to Judy, "I feel like I'm moving in with my maiden aunt and we're discussing our bathroom habits." Judy reminds her that combining two households is bound to be difficult. Under the impression that the pregnancy was planned, Lily also breaks to Judy the news that Jake and Tiffany, whom she calls "the child mom," are having a baby. Judy sulks at this further confirmation that all the things she wants, marriage and children, are coming to the people around her but not to herself. Lily notices her peevish mood. [In black and white, Lily says in exasperation that when she became engaged to Jake, people were happy for her, but now that she's planning to marry Rick, they make her feel as if she's spreading mad cow disease.]

That afternoon, Tiffany, with Jake at her side, undergoes her first sonogram. Although it's too early to tell the sex of fetus, Tiffany is ecstatic over the tiny image on the monitor. Jake's face is an enigma.

In the evening, Jake goes to the Manning house to pick up the girls for dinner, and finds Rick alone, since Lily and the girls are out shopping. They chat like old buddies about fatherhood and marriage. "You're right to make an honest woman of her. She likes being married," Jake says.

When Jake asks Rick if he and Lily might have a child together, Rick has no answer. At Rick's mention of Tiffany's pregnancy, Jake confides that parenthood was, for him, the best part of being married. Their talk turns to the house, Jake commenting that he had always wanted to put a bay window in the front wall. His professional curiosity piqued, Rick, aided by Jake, is inspired to take down the drapes, measure the wall and punch holes in it to see if the headers extend far enough to support a bay window. At that moment Lily and the girls arrive home. Aghast over the holes in her wall, Lily demands, "What are you doing?" She turns on her heel and storms out. "Uh-oh," Jake mutters.

When Rick follows her to apologize, Lily complains that the house no longer feels like hers any more. Rick retorts that he feels like an intruder himself, and that because of him, everything seems to be leading to disaster. Rick decides he shouldn't spend the night, and Lily doesn't plead with him to stay.

Jake and the girls return from dinner and after the girls go upstairs, he talks with Lily, who's curled up on the couch, nursing a hot drink. "Are you happy, Jake?" she asks him.

"Not as happy as I once was," he replies, which Lily finds flattering. "And you?"

"If you'd asked me that two days ago, it would have been an easy question," she sighs.

"He's a good guy," Jake assures her, adding that in the morning things may look different. Astonished, she's moved to ask, "When did you get nice?" As he heads out the door, he answers, "I try to hide it."

In the morning, when Rick picks up Jessie at Karen's house, he admits feeling that Lily's house is already full and that there is no corner that feels like his alone. "So why are we doing this?" Jessie asks.

That evening, Lily braids Zoe's hair while Grace watches. Mother and daughters talk about the difficulty of combining the two families and households, and Zoe admits to feeling guilty because she doesn't want to share her room. Lily admits that she "kind of" wants her own room also, and Grace suggests that her mother and Rick not live together, since other married couples have kept separate homes, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir for example. "Who are they?" Zoe asks.

"They were on 'Survivor'," Grace sneers.

Zoe comments, "I'd hate to be on 'Survivor,' to be in a strange place where you can't trust anybody and nobody wants you there, and you could get kicked out at any second."

"Kind of like what Rick and his kids must have felt like here," Lily muses.

As Jake closes up Phil's for the night, Tiffany asks if they're taking one car or two. She senses that he's uncomfortable and pleads with him to say what he's thinking. "I can't do it," he blurts. "I'll be this baby's father, I mean everything -- money -- but I can't be with you in some instant family."

Tiffany is hurt but tries to put on a brave face. She reminds him that a lot can change in the next seven months and suggests that he might just be scared now. Jake answers that while he's not going anywhere, it would be unfair to let her think that he'll change.

"Well, you're not a psychic. You don't know the future," she says resolutely.

Rick drops by to see Lily. He rejects her invitation to come inside the house, calling the car neutral territory. With gallows humor, Lily proposes that they simply live in the car, and Rick confesses to feeling "buyer's remorse." He came to apologize, he says, but doesn't think he'll do any better.

"I'm not going to lose you," she insists. "You mean I can breathe?" Rick jokes with relief. They kiss and when she caresses his face, Rick feels something different. He pulls the glove off her left hand and sees that she's wearing the engagement ring. She gives him a reassuring smile and they kiss again.

Next day, Rick and Lily assemble all four children in the Manning living room for a family meeting. The children are stunned when Rick states, "We don't want you to think of this as your house. We want you to think of it as a prison." Their marriage, he explains, is the "crime," and even though the children didn't commit the crime, they have to serve the time. "Even though you don't have the right to leave, you have the right to speak even if it's about something you don't like," Lily informs them. When Grace points out that nothing they say will change anything, Lily answers that it might change the way they feel.

"You want us to say bad things about moving in together?" Eli asks incredulously. Taking their cue, Jessie and Zoe disagree about wanting bunk beds but agree that they don't want to share a room. Lily reminds them that Grace will go off to college in a few years, freeing up a bedroom. "On the other hand, two years can be a very long time," Grace comments. "These two minutes have been a really long time," Eli grumbles.

With insight gained from her therapy, Jessie claims to see through Rick and Lily's ploy, pointing out that they are fostering the illusion that their children will feel better if they are allowed to say what they think.

"Well, I say family meetings are really stupid," Grace promptly declares.

Rick firmly decrees that the meeting will continue and if no one wants to talk, they'll all sit there and be silent. "I have trouble being silent," Zoe points out.

The children move to adjourn the meeting, second the motion, vote in favor of it, and race for the door. "And don't think this means we like each other, either," Grace says on her way out. "Yeah, that'll be the day," Jessie laughs.

Deserted by their children, Rick and Lily exchange conspiratorial smiles and give each other furtive low-fives, then contentedly clasp hands.

The end.

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