I Went Full Lorelai Gilmore At Luke's Diner Pop-Up & Here's What I Learned
My mother will not watch Gilmore Girls, but that didn't stop me from inviting to get her to join me at Luke's Diner Wednesday morning. If social media didn't tip you off, Netflix opened Luke's Diners across the country to celebrate the upcoming four part Gilmore Girls revival — and push out free coffee. And even though she prefers Game of Thrones to Gilmores, and relates to a mother of dragons versus a mother of uncommon youthfulness (she had me in her late 30s), I lamented via phone that I wished she could've joined me. But I understood: She lives in a small town in Jersey, and I moved to New York to advance my career. Sometimes I just miss my mom.
I'm a journalist, but I'm certainly no Christiane Amanpour. Instead, I work the Gilmore Girls beat at Bustle and freelance on other pockets of the internet, usually imitating familiar faces in pop culture. Subsequently, I have ballpark 5000 articles enthusing that I am very excited about the Netflix Gilmore Girls revival, and, for the sake of my journalistic integrity, that isn't untrue. It's just that, by the article 5001, you're not writing about how you're Team Jess with the same vigor as you were six months ago. Like, you're looking forward to Rory and Lorelai's reunion, but you don't even know why anymore.
Regardless, I wasn't going to Luke's without going full Gilmore. So I decided to recreate the full Stars Hollow experience, even without my partner in crime, and the passion for the show I had somehow lost along the way. Coffee with a shot of cynicism, coming right up.
"You've Been Gilmored!"
Instead of going the Rory route, I leaned into my inner Lorelai, which was admittedly tricky. There are certain factors that worked against me embodying the Dragonfly Inn owner, like, say, I am not a stunning, slender brunette in my 30s who has eyes that sparkle like the ocean. I do not possess a quick and charming quippy-ness that bends the will of my neighbors. And I have not, as far as I can tell, ever given birth.
On the other hand, Lorelai and I do share some similarities. We are both Tauruses, and I, a North Brooklynite solely attracted to musicians, have flirted with many flannel-wearing men over a counter for acquisition of free food. Maybe I have some semblance of wit in me, I don't know.
Whatever the case may be, I embraced the Lorelai aesthetic by haphazardly throwing together some Gilmore-eseque garments. I took a $1 pink cardigan as a nod to the Pilot, a v-neck as it's our girl's preferred neckline, some high boots over jeans, and one of those atrocious early 2000s skinny scarfs that really don't keep your neck warm. Although, I guess my being half girl, half giraffe means that I will never be warmed properly by a scarf. So be it. Anyway, after putting on some coffee earrings, I decided I was decidedly Close Enough and only looked slightly ridiculous.
"Please! I'll Be Your Best Friend!"
Even the most casual Gilmore Girl fan knows that Lorelai has two BFFs, one being her book-gormandizing mini-me daughter Rory and the other being her cook supreme co-worker Sookie St. James. Sans mother, I knew I needed to bring someone for a round of rapid-fire banter, but how would I manifest a friend that fit the mold?
Option A: I enlist my BK bestie, who is an absent-minded chef that routinely bakes lavender buttercream concoctions, helps me at work, and puts up with my narcissistic bullsh*t with drop-of-a-hat favors, to play Sookie.
Option B: I give birth.
On a bit of a time crunch, I decided to bring along Jennette Hennessy Greenberg, who you may know from such unhealthy ventures as "That Time I Dressed Up As Buddy The Elf And Almost Legit Died."
"Nothing Says Coffee Like 6 In The Morning"
I pre-gamed for my Gilmore experience with a cup of coffee, graciously laid out by my roommate the night before and selfishly co-opted at 6 A.M. by yours truly. With my headphones tucked firmly in my ear canals, I considered Hep Alien's greatest hits before settling for the dulcet "la la las" of Sam Phillips on a perpetual 20 minute long loop. This soundtracked my walk to Williamsburg's The Bean, the nearest Luke's Diner location, half exhausted and half on a caffeine buzz. If you want to play along with my craziness, feel free to drink a cup of coffee any time you get a Gilmore Girls reference. If you get them all, you'll be rewarded with ulcers. Lots and lots of ulcers.
Anyway, I had exceedingly low expectations about what kind of crowd would show up at this thing, if a crowd at all. But suddenly, we were stalled: turns out Gilmore fandomium is just as strong offline as it is online. That, or there's a sexual allure over the idea of free coffee. Both.
Speaking of which, I was shocked to receive a call at approximately 7:22 a.m. from "Home," here meaning, "my small Jersey town and the woman I share my life's blood with." "Do you have your coffee?" Mama Garis asked. "Because I have my coffee with me now, I figured we could share it together, over the phone."
My heart skips a beat. "I'm with Jennette right now," I said, "We're in line, but I'll call you when I get inside?" I hang up the phone and low-key almost burst into tears.
"As Long As Everything Is Exactly The Way I Want It, I’m Totally Flexible."
For the record, I had my Ava Gardner mug at hand when I walked into "Luke's," intended to emulate a java junkie plead for the drink. Why is this a thing Lorelai does? Can anyone help me out with that? Anyway, I needn't have bothered: free Luke's cups were at the ready when I got into line, but I was determined to put the mug to use.
"I was actually going to ask if you could pour... no, you know what, it's fine, I'll just do this," I said, as I emptied my to-go cup into the mug with Lorelei-Like obnoxiousness. The girl at the counter, dressed in the required Luke Danes garb for all baristas today, watched in abject horror as I spilled coffee everywhere.
"You could just take the top off..." She offered helpfully, but it's too late, this is happening, I'm mid-pour, full-force with my Lorelai stubbornness. To that girl: I am sorry. I am so sorry because this kind of behavior doesn't really fly in real life, and I am sorry because I can only imagine that today is a hell and a half at that coffee place. My prayers are with you and the other three to eight Lukes. (It's hard to many how many were working or in costume. Plaid and backward caps are very, very Brooklyn.)
That's the face of insanity right there.
Jennette and I settled down for a quick Gilmore Girls gabfest as we drank our coffee (me double-fisting the morning elixir). Enthusiasm in Luke's was potent, but recognition of our costumes were nominal, more side-eye than congratulatory. The reality of the situation is this: it is hard to merge small town friendliness in a thick metropolitan melange of characters. There were no Miss Pattys or Kirks in the crowd, but plenty of sweet girls who had an obvious, voracious love of the show. Shout-out to the chick who did an "OH MY GOD" double-take when she realized Jennette and I were in costume.
Of course, it wouldn't be the Gilmore experience without serendipitous run-ins with our eccentric townies. The first, dressed in huge Nicole Richie glasses and what I call a Williamsburg Witch Hat, was my friend/co-worker Gabrielle Moss (who "hasn't watched Gilmore Girls" but was willing to "believe" we were in full cosplay). The second was my roommate Emily, who offered a quick, "See you guys later" and is probably 110 percent done with my nonsense.
We capped the morning off with actual diner food at my nearby joint and a third (fourth?) cup of coffee closing out the Gilmore Day. My arteries aching, I got reflective.
"It's A Lifestyle. "It's A Religion."
Just between you and me, internet, it's impossible to recreate Luke's Diner. No amount of skinny scarves and coffee coffee coffee coffee can make it real. But my visit to Netflix's Luke, and the excessive cups of joe, did reinvigorate something I lost somewhere around my 5000th article on Gilmore Girls.
Yes, I've been excited about the Netflix revival but I no longer felt it on a soul level, could not properly digest all the reasons why I first fell in love with it during one fateful binge-watch. After Gilmore-ing it up, though, it all flooded back.
Gilmore Girls matters because it encompasses, episode after episode, all the things in life that really matter to me: pride in one's community, the bonds of female friendship, an obsession with pop culture, a worship of quick-wittedness and a constant, fervent celebration of the greatest drink ever made. It's not just a show, and it hit my heart hard to see, in action, that other people feel the same way. When Rory returns to Stars Hollow on November 25, reuniting with Lorelai, it's going to feel like a homecoming for all of us. Maybe, as something like a journalist far away from her Jersey small town, it'll especially feel like a homecoming for me.
Or maybe I just miss my mom.
Images: Giphy (5); Jennette Greenberg/Mary Grace Garis/Bustle (8)