Once and Again

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Niki: A | Grade It Now!

Fade up on a solitary white stool glowing softly against a black background. Melancholy jazz piano. Judy steps on-screen, sidles up to the stool, and straddles it, saying, "When you've been involved with a married man, and you decide that you're never going to see him again, here's what you do."

Now we're looking through the bookstore window, and Judy is inside at the counter, looking at the cordless phone like a recovering addict and restlessly drumming her fingers. "You don't call him," says her voice-over. Now Judy's strolling along the sidewalk in slow motion, her eyes transfixed by the payphones she's passing. The melancholy jazz piano still plays, and a silken-voiced man sings, "The very thought of you." Cut to Judy in bed, the phone ringing on her nightstand. "Even if he calls you," her voice-over continues. Judy's sitting on the floor, in front of her answering machine, and hitting the playback button while she voice-overs, "Even if you listen to the message a few times." The ease with which she locates the play button, without having to turn around, suggests she's listened to Mr. Married's message more than a "few times." She looks at the cordless phone in her hand, thankfully thinks better of dialing, and covers it with a giant floor cushion. "That's what you do," she voice-overs, "You don't call him back. And all you want is something else to think about," Judy says as we cut back to her black-and-white self, perched on the stool. "Anything else," she adds.

Cut to a green, felt-covered bulletin board, where there's a Polaroid of a woman tacked up. The photo is attached to a slip of paper with the woman's first name and the title of a book scrawled in marker. The music fades as Grace says, "This is a genius idea." The camera lands on Grace, then pans to the coffee counter in the bookstore, where a workman is busily fidgeting with some tools. He watches Judy pulling the bulletin board (it's a big stand-up one) toward the front window, while she explains to Grace that she was having trouble sleeping one night, and she remembered this dry cleaner for singles she'd heard about, where you could flip through a photo album of people. That sounds creepy to me, but what do I know? Grace interrupts to inform Judy that her idea is so much better. Turning to Lily, Grace extols the idea, explaining for our benefit that people will decide who they want to meet based on the books they recommend, and admitting that she judges people based on what they read. She catches herself, realizing how snobbish she sounds, and says, "I don't mean judge." Yes, you do. Embrace your elitism. Judy turns her attention to Lily, seeking her reaction. She hesitantly asks what Lily thinks. Lily forces exuberance and a smile, saying it sounds like a great idea.

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Once and Again




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