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Once and Again...Once Again




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SUMMARY OF "THE AWFUL TRUTH"

Written by Angela Stockton

Edited by Milton Boyd

With Booklovers poised to become more than just the name of a small neighborhood bookstore, Judy has decided that she needs a logo. She has commissioned several different designs and, unable to settle on one, takes them to Lily's house to obtain another viewpoint.

Lily is not at home, but Grace, Zoe and Jessie are. While the girls eat ice cream, study the designs, and offer their critiques, Eli arrives. Seeing the ice cream, he exclaims, "Give me some of that!" Although Jessie offers him a spoonful of hers, he reaches for Grace's bowl instead. He notices Jessie's scowl but lets it pass without comment.

The back door opens and Judy, expecting to see Lily, is surprised when Tiffany nonchalantly walks in and picks up a book lying on the kitchen island. Judy recognizes the book as a "Name the Baby" guide. [In black and white, she recalls that she gave the book to Lily seventeen years ago. Lily immediately confided that she was pregnant and asked Judy, "How did you know?"] When Tiffany explains that Lily is lending her the book, Judy can't hide her injured feelings and blurts out, "I gave her that book!" Tiffany quickly says she forgot that she doesn't need the book because Jake is buying her one. "I'm so pregnant!" she exclaims with a nervous laugh.

When Tiffany congratulates Judy on the news that she heard from Lily--that Booklovers is becoming a chain-- Judy corrects her, explaining that a man is simply paying her to use the Booklovers name. "Too bad you can't run a bookstore out of a restaurant because I know one you could get real cheap, and then you could have Jake run it for you," Tiffany comments naively.

At that moment, Lily is sitting in a crowded front office, waiting to be called for a job interview. She hears "Ms. Sammler" but doesn't respond until she notices everyone staring at her. Flustered, she springs to her feet, dropping her résumé and apologizing for not recognizing her own name because she's a newlywed.

Although she gamely tries to sell herself, the interview comes to a disheartening end when the female executive says, "Look, I'm going to be honest with you." Her face falling, Lily asks, "Is it the age thing or the dot-com thing?" The executive answers, "It's the you-didn't-finish-college thing," and acquaints Lily with the don't-ask, don't-tell of interviewing: had Lily not mentioned her lack of a college degree, the executive could have recommended to her supervisor that Lily be hired; but since she knows the truth, she can no longer consider Lily for the position.

After the interview, Lily meets Judy at a café, where Judy chides her for her honesty, asking, "Were you under oath?" Studying Lily's résumé, Judy wonders why Lily is calling herself "Elizabeth Sammler" instead of her "real" name. She starts to tell Lily about Tiffany's idea for a combination bookstore/restaurant, but Lily interrupts her, asking, "What's my 'real' name?" Annoyed, Judy declares that she has to leave. "To meet Will Gluck?" Lily guesses. Judy surprises her by admitting that he hasn't called her since the wedding, nor has she called him.

Meanwhile, in Grace's creative writing class, teacher August Dimitri tells his students that he "made it through" their journals, which he hands back to them. Seeing Grace yawning, he asks her how she felt about keeping a journal. "It's nice," she replies cautiously. Mr. Dimitri mocks her answer, claiming, " 'Nice' is for shrimp salads and grandmothers. I'm not interested in 'nice.' "

Judy surprises Karen by showing up at her office with an enormous gift basket of food and wine. "I only read one contract!" Karen protests, embarrassed. While they snack on the food, Judy brings up Tiffany's idea for a Booklovers Café. Karen enthusiastically endorses it, and when Judy admits that she doesn't know anything about running a restaurant, Karen suggests that she hire Jake to run it for her. "That would just be so awkward. Of course, it would be really awkward when I don't hire him," Judy says thoughtfully.

That evening, the four Sammler and Manning children crowd onto Lily's sofa to watch a Godzilla movie on TV. When Eli and Grace reach across Jessie to playfully wrestle each other, Jessie jumps up and tells Zoe to come with her. "They obviously want to be alone," she sneers, glaring at Grace and Eli. Zoe follows Jessie out of the living room. Finding themselves alone, Grace and Eli exchange self-conscious glances, then leave as well--in opposite directions.

Later, as Lily is tidying up her kitchen prior to following Rick upstairs, Judy drops by. She enters through the laundry room without knocking, and when Lily complains that Judy scared her, Judy replies peevishly, "Tiffany lets herself in." Without crediting Tiffany, she outlines her plan to save Phil's and asks Lily to become her partner. Although she can't resist picking up the baby name book and muttering, "I gave you this," she downplays Lily's misgivings about their working together again, pleading, "I can't do it without you." [In black and white, Lily reflects: "I'm the older sister. When you're the older sister, people just count on you."] Lily capitulates, and when Rick returns to to the kitchen to see what's delaying her, he finds Lily and Judy beaming, their arms around each other. "Guess what?" Lily says.

In the morning, Lily asks Rick if he minds that she will be working with Jake at the restaurant. He replies that he doesn't think she should do it, not because of Jake but because she doesn't really want to go into business with Judy and agreed to it only because she's afraid to disappoint her sister by saying no. "That's not true!" she replies. "Then you're doing exactly the right thing," he concludes, but Lily doesn't seem reassured.

While Jessie, Eli, Zoe and Grace are having breakfast, Karen calls. She suggests to Jessie that they see the new Musketeer movie together, but Jessie begs off, explaining that she has promised to see it with Eli. After hanging up, Jessie asks Eli to take her to the movie. Her happiness at his assent turns to annoyance when he immediately invites Grace to join them.

Judy reaches Will by telephone at a jobsite. After not speaking to each other for months, they find conversation awkward, but Judy finally explains that she's expanding the bookstore and would like to talk about hiring him for the job. "I'm available. Are you available?" he asks. "Yeah," Judy answers softly.

At the empty, unlit Phil's, Jake cuts short a telephone conversation when Tiffany arrives. Bitterly, he says, "I hate my life," and informs her that the call was from "insecure, attention-deficit-disordered Judy," who told him that she is about to buy his restaurant and turn it into a bookstore/café. "Do you know what she just asked me?" he fumes.

"To run the café?" Tiffany "guesses"; Jake, too upset to pay attention, grumbles that Judy wants him to run the café and vows, "I'll dig ditches first!" However, Tiffany urges him to look on the offer as an opportunity, insisting that Judy needs him. She tries to give him some encouragement, saying, "There's a hexagram in the I Ching where you think you're being totally humiliated, but the truth is..." Realizing that her New Age wisdom means nothing to Jake, she drops the subject and opens a book she's holding. When Jake asks what it is, Tiffany answers that she bought herself a book of baby names, then picks up Jake's phone and says, "Call her."

[Jake consults Tiffany's book. "Jake: Form of Jacob. 'The supplanter. The substitute.'" He looks puzzled.]

Grace visits Mr. Dimitri after class. She's upset that he seems to think she's the only student in the class whose journal is not completely honest. Abruptly, Mr. Dimitri asks her, "Who calls you Gracie?"

"My mother, sometimes," she replies in confusion.

"I want to hear from Grace," he continues. "Not that Gracie isn't--she may be a perfectly decent person, but is she you? Who you love, who you hate, who changes your life--why don't you write about that? What would happen if you said what you're most afraid to say, to the person you're most afraid to say it to, and then wrote about it? Only don't clean it up, don't make it presentable, don't be Gracie." He urges her, "Be in a state of grace. Grace is about what's sacred, and that's the truth."

["August--shortened form of Augustus. 'Worthy of honor and respect'," Grace reads wryly from her mother's book.]

At the restaurant, Judy bounces ideas off Lily and Jake, but soon she can't get a word in because the ex-spouses are loudly monopolizing the conversation. The decibel level drops only when Lily steps aside to answer her phone; the caller is Tiffany, who asks if Lily is still looking for a job. She explains that the radio station where she used to work needs someone, and advises Lily to apply right away. To Judy's dismay, Lily hangs up, immediately pulls on her jacket and, without elaboration, says she has to "dash." [Judy recalls that because she's the younger sister, in the past Lily had a tendency to not listen to her. "But that's the past, I'm different now," she asserts.]

As a young female staffer shows her around the radio station, Lily is told that the job is assistant to the program manager, Les Creswell. She's warned that he's particular and that the position is challenging. Lily is shown into his empty office and asked to wait. Moments later Les walks in, looks up from the paper in his hand, and with no greeting or prologue tells Lily, "OK, you got the job. You can start tomorrow."

Lily, who hasn't even been asked to sit down, is astonished that he doesn't want to interview her and isn't much concerned about whether she's right for the job. He tells her that interviews are a waste of time, and they'll find out tomorrow whether she's right. When she says she needs to think about the job because her sister wants her to go into business with her, he stops her with a wave of his hand. "I don't want to hear about sisters. People might have sisters, but I don't want to know," he growls. Nonetheless, he allows her time to think about the job and promises to be in touch. As he starts to close his office door on her, she compliments him on his "soothing" radio voice. When his only response is an arched eyebrow, she silently concedes that Les is impervious to conversational pleasantries.

Late that afternoon, Lily arrives home to find Judy and Eli in her kitchen, Judy watching in disbelief while Eli heaps pasta and sauce on his plate. After he leaves, Lily comments that teen-age boys eat a lot, and scoffs when Judy hints that he might be high. She also tells Judy about the time Eli saw her when she was wearing only a towel. The sisters talk about their new business venture while Lily starts her dinner preparations. Judy insists that during their morning meeting with Jake, Lily kept interrupting her. Hurt and confused, Lily tries to defend herself but Judy interrupts her. In turn, she interrupts Judy. [In black and white, though not face to face, Lily and Judy wonder why they thought they needed each other, complain that they don't need the bickering, and resolve to say so.] Finally, Lily recommends that Judy stay to dinner and that they put off further discussion until afterward.

When Karen and Judy next meet, Judy announces that she's going forward with the renovation of Phil's. Karen praises her entrepreneurial spirit and courage in doing so on her own. When Judy points out that she's not alone but has taken Lily as her partner, Karen can't understand why she thinks she needs anyone else. "You were running Booklovers by yourself, you conceived of this whole idea all on your own, why would you need anyone--this is your baby!" she argues, her voice rising. Realizing how overwrought she sounds, Karen wearily confesses that she hasn't slept much since Eli's arrest, she hardly sees him any more, and it seems as if he's always at Lily's. Judy speculates that he finds it easier to live with Lily because she isn't his mother and cracks, "It probably doesn't hurt [that] she looks great in a towel."

"What do you mean? What towel?" Karen asks suspiciously. Too late Judy realizes that she's said too much.

Later, at the restaurant, Judy holds another meeting with Lily and Jake. When she raises the topic of hiring a contractor, Lily and Jake begin to argue so heatedly that Judy has trouble making herself heard. Finally she shouts them both down and tells Lily, "Why don't you just shut up?" and Jake, "Why don't you get out of here?" Furious, Jake walks out, followed by the equally furious Lily, who reminds Judy, "I don't speak that way to you!"

[Reading from the name book, Jessie looks pleased as she says, "Eli means 'the highest.' I should tell him that."] In Lily's kitchen, Eli makes a sandwich and offers half to Jessie. She declines and says bluntly, "I know, OK? Why you always have to include her, like she just had to come to the movies with us? Did you think I wouldn't figure it out?" He needs a moment to grasp her insinuation, and can't believe it when he does. She tells him that she won't say anything, but that he should quit acting like it's a secret. When he insists that there's nothing to her suspicions, she barks at him to shut up. "Don't tell me to shut up!" he demands. "Stop acting like I can't handle the truth!" Jessie retorts.

Grace walks in, and tense silence pervades the kitchen. Sullenly, Jessie leaves. Grace leafs through the name book, and Eli, sandwich in hand, starts out of the room. "Are we afraid to be alone?" Grace asks. He stammers that he's not afraid, just busy. She asks if she can visit him in his room the next day, and he agrees.

Judy arrives and goes upstairs, where she's aghast to find Lily at her computer, updating and embellishing her résumé. "I lost my temper," she admits. "Is that any reason not to work for me?"

Lily seizes on "FOR me" as proof that Judy sees her as an employee, not a partner. Judy denies this, and apologizes for her outburst at the restaurant. So fervently does she beg Lily not to look for another job that when the phone rings, Lily accedes to Judy's request that she ignore it.

Rick arrives home and walks in on them. He tells Lily that Karen called him at the office, "completely freaked out" over Eli's having seen Lily in her towel. When he wonders how Karen could have known about it, he notices Judy's guilty glance at Lily and Lily's baleful glare at Judy. Prudently he decides to take a shower and closets himself in the bathroom.

"You never said it was a secret," Judy says defensively to Lily.

"I didn't think I had to!" Lily replies. At that moment Grace, who has answered the telephone, enters with a message for her mother: "The job you interviewed for yesterday is still yours if you want it."

"Gracie, don't you have to write in your journal?" Lily asks quickly. Grace rolls her eyes and moves toward the door. "And I kind of prefer 'Grace' to 'Gracie,'" she adds archly.

Judy bolts from the bedroom and down the stairs, Lily following her. In the foyer, Judy turns on her sister: "You agreed to work for me, and the very next day--"

"There's that word again!" Lily interrupts, and accuses Judy of not being honest enough to say what kind of working relationship she wants for the two of them. When Judy takes offense, Lily tries to backtrack, saying she doesn't know if she'll take the radio station job. "You want me to be honest? Take the job!" Judy snarls, and slams the door on her way out.

In the morning, Lily is at the desk outside Les Creswell's office. Les arrives and walks past her as if she's invisible. When Lily chirps, "Good morning!" he turns around. "I hired you?" he asks in surprise.

He asks what her skills are, and as she tries to describe herself, he finishes, "You're a people person." He asks if she's familiar with a situation in which new co-workers get off on the wrong foot, but eventually they learn to work together and become like a family. Eagerly, she nods. "Well, that's not gonna happen here," Les informs her and goes into his office, leaving Lily speechless again.

At the restaurant, Tiffany prompts Jake to offer Judy a grudging apology for the previous day's argument, to which Judy responds with her own apology. "And he would really appreciate the opportunity to work for you," Tiffany adds. Jake reluctantly seconds this and hands Judy the keys to the building. [Reading the T names, Tiffany complains, "I'm not even in the book."] Smiling at Tiffany, Judy tells Jake that the bookstore/restaurant was Tiffany's idea. Tiffany bursts into a delighted smile while Jake looks at her in awe.

After school, Grace goes to Mr. Dimitri's room and starts to tell him that she has taken his advice to write about the person she's most afraid to write about. About to leave, he cuts her short, but pauses in the doorway to remind her that Marcel Proust and Emily Dickinson, though great writers, were recluses. He counsels Grace that she doesn't have to be the bravest person who ever lived, just the bravest writer.

Will drops by the restaurant. While Judy is showing him around, he tells her that he has found his daughter, that she's nineteen and lives in Tallahassee, Florida and that he plans to move there to become acquainted with her. [In the name book, Judy reads, "William means 'determined protector.'"] He surprises Judy by thanking her, explaining, "Ever since I met you, I started admitting the truth to myself, that's what you do. And you make what you want come true. I just wish--"

"Me too," she replies wistfully. Misty-eyed, Judy tells him that his daughter is very lucky, and they share a long good-bye hug.

As they had arranged, Grace goes to Eli's attic room. She takes a seat across from him and asks what his job at the recording studio is like, and what exactly he does. "Shelve or, like, reshelve, or mail some stuff that has to be mailed, or carry equipment, or get people coffee. Mostly reshelving, though," he replies.

Grace ponders this and, apparently satisfied, abruptly gets up to leave. At the foot of the stairs, she comes face to face with Jessie. They eye each other silently before Grace goes to her room and Jessie goes upstairs. Since Eli's door is closed, Jessie can't see that he is smoking a joint. When she knocks, he quickly hides the joint and his lighter before inviting her in. Within minutes, brother and sister are engaged in a just-like-old-times pillow fight. Meanwhile, Grace is writing in her journal. A laugh bursts from her as her pen flies across the page.

That night, Lily goes to Phil's and finds Judy there alone. Judy tells Lily she can't work there; Lily calmly replies that she doesn't want to work with or for Judy because she has a job "working for another lunatic," and came by only to invite Judy to dinner.

Judy admits that she thought she needed Lily, but that she doesn't need her so much any more, and she needs to run Booklovers Café alone. Lily agrees.

"Is Tiffany a replacement for me?" Judy asks her. "Is Karen?" Lily counters. [Lily and Judy, sitting side by side, examine the baby name book. Judy reads, "Elizabeth means 'consecrated to God.'" Taking the book, Lily reads, "Judith--'she who shall be praised.'" They smile fondly at each other.] The sisters agree that neither one is replaceable and share a hug.

Linking arms, they gaze on the portrait of their father that hangs on the dining-room wall. "He'd never believe I'd be the one to end up running this place, never in a million years," Judy says. "True," Lily teases her. Judy gives her an affectionate nudge.




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