The next day, Ally is talking on a cell phone while standing in the elevator, discussing the people she's invited to the party. "Billy, Georgia, John, Elaine – all definites. I'll have to invite Nelle, but I'll do it at the last minute. And Richard will probably want to bring his little wattle-of-the-month." As she gets off the elevator and hangs up the phone, she runs into a man (John Ritter) and foam from her cappuccino ends up on his tie. She apologizes and adds, "Did I get you?" "Only where I wanted it," the man says. "At least I won't have to explain the spot cause it's you I'm coming to see." He is George Madison, her 9:00 a.m. appointment. He was the editor of a feminist magazine who was fired when the magazine found out he was Baptist. He's also a friend of Elaine's. He walks away to go and clean up, and Ally watches him, slowly taking a lick of foam off her cappuccino.
In the conference room, Elaine is showing the group her newest invention, which she thinks is her best one yet. They are customized condoms and they come in a variety of colors with little sayings on the side so you can "read as you unfurl," according to Elaine. Richard's says "bygones," John's: "Enjoy the moment," Georgia's: "Pay the bill," and Elaine's says "Come here often?" "I'm not sure about the entendre," she says, "I don't want to be vulgar." Ally's says "Take a number," and she doesn't like it. Elaine tells her she is on the "active side." Ally goes on the defensive, but everyone else in the room jumps in and says the wording is appropriate. "You're like an on-ramp," says Richard. Ally says she just kisses a lot. Meanwhile, John is troubled by his slogan. George comes in the conference room then, and Elaine introduces him as the Editor of Le Femme magazine, then she turns and kisses him. Ally is surprised. Richard tells George that Ally and Georgia will handle his case. Billy finds a condom on the table that says "Caution: frostbite." Elaine says that one is Nelle's, then she hands one to George. It says "Been there."
Georgia and Ally head into the unisex. They are discussing Elaine and whether or not George is her boyfriend. They both agree he's cute, and Ally wonders how Elaine got such a cute smart guy. She figures he must be married, but Georgia reminds her she didn't see a ring. Ally turns and opens the door to a stall, but before she walks all the way in (thank goodness she looked this time!) she sees a frog on the toilet seat and starts yelling. She suddenly stops, and says to Georgia that someone put a fake frog on the toilet, but when she starts to enter the stall to pick it up, it leaps up into her hair. She starts yelling and jumping around, pleading for Georgia to get it off her, but she won't. John comes running in. "Stefan, Stefan," he says. He gets Ally to hold still then gets the frog out of her hair. Ally wants to know if he peed in her hair, then "Stefan? He's Swedish?" John explains that Stefan – not just a pet, but a show frog, by the way -- got out of his cage. John says he is an amateur herpetologist and the regionals are coming up soon so he'll be bringing Stefan in for a little extra practice. The frog starts to walk up his chest and John tells it to settle. It sits on his shoulder.
Ally and Georgia finally make it into Ally's office, where George is explaining how he got fired. A profile is coming out on him in a paper's magazine section that says he is Baptist, and before that could cause any problems for the magazine, he was let go. The owner thought that George being Baptist ran contrary to the ideology of a feminist magazine. Georgia wants to file a motion ex parte, and George asks if the court can force his former boss to rehire him. "Well, they don't like to do that," Ally says, "but who knows. You've got a really great face." Ally imagines her own face turning fire-poker hot as she explains that she meant to say "case."
In Cage's office, Richard asks John how things are going with Nelle. Cage reminds Richard that he only intends to covet Nelle from afar. He goes on to say that when he does talk to Nelle, his "rehearsal buffer stiffens" and he doesn't remember the conversations. (According to Cage, that's the part of the brain that transfers things from short term to long term.) Richard is asking because he wants John to ask Nelle if Ling likes him. They have been out on three dates and Richard isn't sure about her feelings because she always gives him the cheek when he goes to kiss her.
In court, the attorney for Le Femme magazine is trying to explain to the judge why George was fired from his job, and when the judge asks him flat out if he was fired for being a Baptist, the attorney says that is a gray area. Ally is asked what her client believes and she responds, "Total equality." The judge agrees there should be an evidentiary hearing, then he calls Ally into chambers. "Sit. If you can," he says. He tells her that his courtroom, like others, has an implied dress code and that she will not be allowed in the courtroom wearing a skirt as short as the one she has on.
Back at the office, Richard thinks Ally should protest the judge's order by wearing tight jeans, but other members of the firm believe that if Ally challenges the judge and gets him angry that George will be the one to pay the price. George wants to take that chance. He doesn't believe that the judge should be able to tell Ally how to dress. "George, I can't ask you to throw yourself on top of me…grenade…on top of the grenade," Ally says. George says he likes her hemlines and is "happy to jump on the cause." Ally imagines herself leaping up onto George's shoulders and straddling his face.
Cage is standing at the top of the stairs, watching Nelle as she walks through the office. He smiles, and imagines she is pregnant, standing in a kitchen at Thanksgiving, between a little girl and boy (who looks exactly like Cage!), then he imagines himself in that picture. Then, he falls down the stairs and lands at her feet. "Isometrics," he explains.
As Cage walks away, Nelle turns sees Ally, who mentions her little dinner party and invites her. "I'm sure you've already made plans," she adds, only to discover that Nelle hasn't and would love to come. George and Georgia join Ally as she tells Nelle that dates are welcome. "I suppose Billy's already going," she says, "Kidding."
In court, Ally is concerned and agrees that maybe she should change clothes. They decide she will just stay behind the table.
At the office, Ling tells Nelle that she's been at the firm for less than a month so, "they can't all hate you." Nelle says it's only all the women who hate her. Ling tells her not to be upset about that. "Remember the adage: 'Success is never more sweet than when accompanied by the failure of a friend.' For that reason alone these women will all want to get along with you." Richard comes around the corner and asks if he can talk to Ling. They walk away to a quiet area, and Richard asks Ling to be his date at Ally's dinner party. She accepts the invitation.
In court, Ally proves that George was fired because it was assumed he is a chauvinist just because he is Baptist. The judge gives George his job back, and tells Ally, who has stood up by this time, that she is in contempt of court. The bailiff takes her into custody.
At the office, Billy and Richard decide to let Ally sit in jail for an hour so that she understands all of this is real.
George comes to visit Ally in jail and asks why she doesn't just apologize. "I don't even say I'm sorry when I am," she says. She asks him how he and Elaine met. It was at the patent office, where Elaine was trying to get a patent on her face bra and George was there about something he invented – a wiggle walk. He has a back problem and the right movement brings relief. Billy has now come to visit, and since there can only be one visitor at a time, George gets up to leave. He tells Ally that he will see her the next day at her dinner party. He's coming as Elaine's guest. After he leaves, Billy tells Ally that she has two choices: apologize or they move for a contempt hearing. She wants to go with the hearing. Billy says if that's the case, he will need to know why she wears her skirts so short, and Ally says it's because she likes to.
That night, Elaine and George are at dinner. She gives him an honorary condom to celebrate the occasion. "Reinstate me," it says. George looks as if he is a million miles away, and Elaine asks if he's okay. He says he is.
The next day, Georgia and Billy are in the unisex discussing the research they have done to prepare for Ally's hearing. There is a flush and Richard comes out of a stall and lights a match. Another flush, and Nelle emerges from a stall. Yet another flush, and as everyone looks to see who it is, Cage comes into the unisex. Richard announces he wants everyone in the courtroom for the hearing.
Ally is in the courtroom, and this time instead of wearing a short skirt she has been forced to wear orange prisoner clothing. The judge says he agreed to hear the case but the only one that needs to address him is the defendant. Ally says she hasn't prepared anything so "this would be off the cuff. You're a pig, and we're all sorry for that," she says. The judge tells the bailiff to put Ally back in custody, but before he can, Nelle asks if she can be heard. "Nobody is denying the respect that should be afforded to you in this courtroom," she begins, "and if she were in here in ripped clothing or tennis shoes, that would be one thing. But you're penalizing her basically because her attire is too sexually risqué and, that isn't right." "If it undermines the credibility of this forum…," the judge begins. "Why should it?" Nelle says. "That very assumption endorses the myth that a sexually-attractive woman can't have credibility. That's a prejudice. It's bad enough the legal profession is still an old-boys club. Why should we have to come in here looking like old boys?" The judge says that no one is asking Ally to look like a boy. "Every billboard and magazine cover tells us we should look like models," Nelle continues. "All the while, we have to fight the mindset, 'If she's beautiful, she must be stupid.' I fight it, too, and I bend to the prejudice. I don't have her courage. If I did, I might come in here and let my hair down once." She takes her hair down. "If I didn't care about people automatically thinking I'm a bimbo, I might not always wear jackets." She removes her jacket and throws it towards Cage, where it lands in his lap. "But people, men and women, draw unfair conclusions. We've come to expect a bias." She looks at him. "But not from judges. What's most disappointing here: you saw this woman perform in court, you heard her argue, she won her case. And you're still judging her on hemlines. What do we have to do?" Nelle returns to her seat. When the judge asks if Ally has anything else to say, all the other lawyers say "no," but Ally says, "Only the obvious. I wish I had her hair." The judge tells Ally she is free to go.
At the apartment, the party has begun. Ally, Elaine and Georgia are singing into a light bulb. Reneé is talking to some guy named Ben who we've never seen before, and whose presence is never explained. They finally sit down to eat. Richard stands to give a toast. "To George for getting his job back, and to Ally, for getting to keep wearing those nasty little skirts as a signature of progress for womankind." Ben wants to know what the deal is with Ally and her skirts. "There is no deal, Ben," Ally says, "a woman is entitled to her own individuality." Richard thinks it's time to change the subject. His way of changing the subject: "Ling, tell us why you dress trampy?" She says it gives her an edge, which she needs since she's the manager at a manufacturing plant filled with men. "They have to have confidence in me, believe I'm smarter than them, the wine is terrible," she says. (Only Ling would say something like that at someone's dinner party – wait, maybe Richard would, too.) Ling says that dressing skimpy "engages the penis. There's nothing dumber than the horny toad." Billy decides to have his say. "You talk about men being chauvinists – I think women are more prejudice," he says. All the women (with the exception of Ling, at least) ask "Why?" Billy says that women assume that when men get aroused they can't think straight. Nelle wants to know if men really get aroused by stupidity. Richard says he does, but Ling is the exception to that rule for him. Billy doesn't think any of this is funny, and he stands up as if he will leave the table. "I don't like this conversation, and I don't like being lumped into some male Neanderthal group. Maybe next time I'll start walking around with Speedo's to get some individuality." "What did you say?" Ally asks. Billy responds, "You heard me." Everyone is very quiet, as Georgia looks at Billy and indicates with her eyes that he should sit down. He does. Richard breaks the silence with, "Somebody pass something." George asks if he can give his two cents. "There's a lot of stuff in this room. It can't be about her skirts. What Nelle said in court today, there's enough truth in that to tap into some genuine frustration, if not anger, that working women have, and men, we do get a little sick of being portrayed as testosterone-driven mutts," he says. "Is that the two cents? I'd be looking for change," says Richard. "Oh, by all means, let's hear you're opinion, Richard," George says. "Simple. Men and women: friction. Friction, friction, friction, orgasm. Fishism," Richard says. "Are we going to dance or not?" he adds.
After dinner, Ally is in the kitchen cutting a watermelon. Billy comes in and Ally says he certainly seemed bothered during dinner. "Since when do you care that men are pigs?" Ally asks. Billy tells Ally what is really bothering him. He says that no one really cares about her skirts, but the whole office had to shut down to address it. He says that's okay because they like to think of the office as a team, but then Ally goes and calls the judge a pig. He says she forgot that what she does in court reflects on the team. And now, he says, she's worried that people might not have fun at her party. He doesn't think she really cares about whether or not the people have fun, but she really just cares about her own success as a host. "Once in a while, it would be nice if life were more than just your party," Billy says.
Later, everyone is dancing and having a good time but Ally is still in the kitchen. Billy returns. He asks her if it meant anything that everyone was in court for her. He says that she's been complaining about how she has no life, but that those people out there in her living room are in her life. "I adore everybody in that room, Billy, except Ling, and Nelle, and Elaine sometimes when she bugs me," Ally says. "But everybody else, except Ben, and George, I don't really know him, but the others, I love them. And I would never admit this, but I even cherish them." "Then, let's get out of the kitchen," Billy says.
Richard tells Ling he wants to show her his stamp collection and he takes her into one of the bedrooms. He wants to know why she tenses up every time they get to the goodnight part of their dates. She says it's because she's afraid he will try to kiss her and she attaches too much importance to the first kiss. She asks him if he wants to try. She stands him next to the end of the bed, and tells him to tilt his head. She whispers, "The worst thing would be for our noses to collide. Now, lick your lips. No. I'll do it," and she proceeds to slowly lick his lips. "We don't want them dry. Now, just receive, reciprocate, but don't escalate." She begins to touch her lips to Richard's, as he appears to be about to hyperventilate, but instead she pulls back and asks him if he's sure he's ready. He says no. She thinks they should wait. Again, he says no. "You may think you've been kissed before, Richard Fish. You haven't been," she says before she finally kisses him. As she begins to pull away, Richard has his mouth open as if in shock. She tells him he was wonderful, then walks away. When she returns to the living room, Ally and Georgia are singing into the light bulb, with the men standing behind them as their Pips. Ling asks Nelle if there are drugs there she doesn't know about. "Did you kiss him?" Nelle asks. "He's still in recovery," says Ling.
Later in the kitchen, Ally tells George that she is sorry for putting her short skirt "before your face, I mean case," she says. They start joking about something and he leans over and wipes dish soap off her cheek. As he walks into the living room to dance, she touches the place that he touched on her face.
Ally comes into the living room, changes the music, and tells everyone to dance normal for a while, without the light bulb. Nelle pulls Cage onto the floor. Georgia asks Billy if he has any room on his dance card, and Elaine dances with George. Ben says Reneé won't dance with him and asks Ally, who accepts. Nelle asks Cage if he plans to continue coveting her from afar. He says he thinks it's safer that way, and Nelle agrees. As "Someday We'll be Together" plays, George and Ally watch each other as all the couples dance.
©1998 Dana Hagerty. All rights reserved.