Once and Again
Learner's Permit

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Where's That High Road?

I'd like to start out with a couple of public-service messages. First, every home should have a computer and access to this wonderful new invention called the Internet. After several days back home with the family, I can't tell you how much I missed being connected. Secondly, make sure you all party responsibly as you ring in the new year -- I want to see each and every one of you back here in 2001.

When the show opens, we find ourselves in the kitchen of Manning Manor (cheers, Wing!), where the camera pans over strewn newspaper, poster paints, and a tiny mountain rising out of the kitchen table. Zoe tells Lily that she needs red food coloring, "too -- for the eruption." "Before I went to the store would have been an excellent time to mention this," Lily snots as she pulls groceries out of a paper bag. Grace comes in the back door, drops her stuff on the floor, and starts rifling frantically through the mail on the counter. "Yes!" she shouts after a few seconds, startling the bejeesus out of lily and Zoe. She informs them that she got her learner's permit. "Great!" Lily phonies, and her eyes glaze over slightly. ["She got it in the mail? I got it the day I took my test. Illinois is weird." -- Wing Chun]

A black Explorer comes hurtling around the corner of a quiet suburban street. I expect five guys in ski masks to pile out the back, but instead we hear Lily squawk, "Careful!" In a stunning show of support, Lily has her legs braced against the dashboard, and her white knuckles are clutching the Holy Shit Bar like it's the Rick Stick. Grace sensibly pulls the truck to a stop and informs her mother that she's "making that sound." Lily pleads ignorance. Grace gives her a sample by drawing in a sharp, hissing breath. Lily's voice is almost swallowed by fear as she chokes that she's not trying to make Grace nervous, "it's just that there's a lot --" A horn honks in the distance, and Lily looks like one of her vital organs just deposited itself on the (one hopes, rubberized) car mat. Grace again applies the brakes. She points out that Lily isn't wearing her seatbelt. Lily is horrified and launches into a lecture on how wearing one is the most important thing in driving, blah blah she should have been a crash test dummy. Grace stares straight ahead, smiling patronizingly and shaking her head slightly. She reminds Lily that they'll be "doing this" for the next six months and pleads, "Can you please try to act like a normal human being?" I bite my tongue so hard I think I might need stitches. Grace rolls her eyes, likely because she realizes what a hopelessly ridiculous request she just made, while Lily clutches her pearls and looks like she's on the brink of a nervous collapse.

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Once and Again

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