Pursuit of Loneliness
Air date: February 21, 2000
Summary/Review by Dana Bonistalli

Skip summary and go straight to Dana's "Bits and Pieces"

The man behind the counter at the coffee shop hands Ally her morning coffee. "Tall, semi-dry, non-fat cap," he says. After saying hello and telling Ally that he doesn't mean to disturb her, he introduces himself as Hammond Dearing and asks if they have ever met or seen each other before. Ally dryly brushes him off. Hammond continues to pursue her, telling her that he has handed her her coffee every morning for almost three months now and he was hoping that once she might have paused to look at his face. "I guess I didn't," she says. He asks if she would. "Okay," she says, glancing quickly at him, "Bye, bye." She tries to walk away. He asks her if she has a problem with him because he makes cappuccinos for a living. Ally says her cappuccino is getting cold. Hammond asks her to have dinner with him. "You're beginning to get annoying," Ally says. Hammond leans in and kisses her. "My ex told me I'm a good kisser," he says. Ally tells him that it's a good thing he makes a cold cappuccino, then slowly pours hers over his head. "And, um, your ex," she says, "She lied."

In the unisex, Nelle expresses shock that this guy asked Ally out. "Did he think you were a waitress or something?" she asks, adding, "There's nothing worse than getting hit on by one of the little people." John exits a stall and Nelle points out to him that his fly is open. He asks her about what she just said, and she says she doesn't mean short people, but little people, like janitors. Richard comes in and asks Ally if the lesbians are there yet. Ally says there is only one lesbian coming in. Ally wants to know why men are so fascinated with lesbians. "Do you know what they do together?" Richard says, "They have sex." Ally reminds him that heterosexual women have sex, too. "There's nothing special about a woman interacting with a penis, unless it's your own," Richard says. Elaine comes in to tell Ally that her meeting is there. She and Richard leave. John asks Nelle, "You would not date a janitor?" She says no and asks him if he would date a janitette. He says yes. "Typical. As long as she's beautiful, it doesn't matter to a man what she is inside," Nelle says.

Ally and Richard are in the conference room with their client, Evan. Georgia is there representing Evan's wife, Lisa. Evan doesn't think he should have to pay alimony because he doesn't feel like he and Lisa were ever really married. He says she was never sexually attracted to him and he believes that was fraud. Georgia says these are the same arguments heard at trial court, but Ally reminds her that the case was certified to the court of appeals because they recognized Evan might have a case. "You made love to him even though you are really attracted to women?" Richard asks. Lisa says yes. Evan says he is the one who was hurt in all this and he is the one being asked to pay. Lisa tells Evan that she tried to love him. "Maybe if you were with the right guy," Richard says. Ally tells Georgia that they are offering Lisa $40,000. Georgia says if that is their final offer, then they will go to appeals.

Ally returns to the coffee shop, but this time she hides behind her paper. Hammond hands her a tall percent, half-and-half, no whip mocha. "It took me most of the day, but I've forgiven you," he says. He admits he was wrong to kiss her, but says he thinks he could redeem himself. "How about you give me my drink and I'll grant you redemption," Ally says. She tells him that it's always the wrong guys that hit on her. "Are you going to give me my drink, or do I have to call for the manager?" she asks. "How about you call for the owner?" he says, adding, "Better yet, let him buy you dinner." She is surprised to find out he is the owner, and that he owns three other coffee shops as well. "You might have to admit, you prejudged me," he says. Ally removes the lid on her coffee and says, "I admit it was wrong for me to dump a cappuccino on your head. The owner -- he should get chocolate," as she pours it on his head.

Sandy brings some papers in to Billy. She tells him they are his divorce papers and that Nelle marked up a couple of things on them. She starts to leave but Billy acts as if he wants to say something to her. "Are you okay?" she asks. He says yeah. She asks him if it seems strange to have a marriage end so simple, with a couple of drafts and a couple of signatures. "If you need to talk," she says. Billy tells her that she doesn't want to talk about what he's dying to talk about. She tries to get him to discuss it but he won't. He says he might meet her down at the bar. She walks to the door and instead of leaving, shuts it. She wants to know what's on his mind. "I think it's no secret that I'm attracted to you," he says, adding, "But, it would be inappropriate, you work for me. I'm not even presuming you'd be interested." He tells her that he goes home to an empty place at night and instead of missing Georgia, he misses her. He says he even started putting up pictures of Ally, trying to miss her, but he still misses Sandy. She walks towards him and touches his face. "It wouldn't be a good idea," she says. "No, it wouldn't," Billy says. She leans in and kisses him anyway, softly. They kiss again, longer.

The next morning, Sandy brings several documents in to Billy. She tells him that she thinks the kiss was a mistake. "I would have to be the biggest idiot in the world to get involved with you," she says. "You're a card-carrying male chauvinist pig, who's my boss, coming off a divorce, going through some sort of mid-life crisis." She asks that they just pretend that the night before didn't happen.

In court, John tells Ally to take the no-fault issues and he will speak on the privacy issues. They stand for the judges to come in. The first one is very elderly and takes a while to make it to the bench. The other two judges come in and Ally is shocked to see the last one is the guy from the coffee shop. "What is he doing here?" Ally asks. John says he is Hammond Dearing and Ally shouldn't let him fool her because he can be prickly. Everyone sits but Ally. Hammond takes a look at the papers in front of him. "Ms. McBeal? Well, at long last I know your name," he says. "For the record, I twice asked counsel for the petitioner out on a date and she twice dumped espresso roast on my head. If the parties have a problem, let's address that first." Georgia says she has no problem with it. Ally asks Hammond if he is going to be biased. He says if he thought so, he would recuse himself. John tells Ally that Judge Dearing is the most progressive of the three and they definitely want him there. She says fine. "Okay, you are trying to vitiate a marriage on the grounds of fraud because the wife is gay, is that the question?" Judge Dearing says. She says yes. "A marriage is a contract, and like any contract, there has to be a meeting of the minds. Here, there clearly wasn't," she says. "You're saying a marriage contract contains the implied promise of heterosexuality?" asks the female judge. Ally says, "Yes, in fact, in some states, a marriage isn't even legal until it's consummated sexually." Judge Dearing tells Ally that this isn't one of those states. "Certainly, if Evan Stevens knew that Lisa Treadway was a lesbian he would not have….," Ally is interrupted by Judge Dearing, who asks, "Is it possible Ms. Treadway didn't consider sexual attraction to be material to the marriage? What if Ms. Treadway was heterosexual but she just wasn't attracted to your client? Would we declare that marriage a fraud and nullify it?" Ally pauses, thinking about what to say next. "If a woman marries a man she has no sexual interest in and she doesn't tell him, yes, I think it's fraud and I think the marriage should be nullified." The female judge says, "You make no room for the possibility that there are couples who, even on their wedding day, are not terribly inclined toward one another physically. We should annul all those unions?" Ally says, "No, no, no, no, no, no…..yes. Well, for example, I'm sure that when ugly people marry, they're not always physically drawn to each other, but they still want to get married if they can only find another ugly person…..I can't believe I am saying this…..let me, um, go back." Judge Dearing says, "That would be wise." Ally attempts to regain her composure. "It's one thing for two people to get married to each other without any sexual interest, that's one thing," she says. "But it is quite another when one of the would-be spouses conceals his or her sexual orientation. That is just fraudulent." Judge Dearing says, "So, I'm about to get married. I have no interest sexually in my partner. I marry her anyway because I love her with all my heart. I think she'd make a wonderful partner and a great mother and I take her for my wife. That's okay?" Ally says yes. "If I'm heterosexual. But if I'm gay, I'm not entitled to that same opportunity?" Judge Dearing asks. Ally says he is twisting her words. He tells her to untwist them. "If you were gay and you told your fiancée you were gay and you still both agreed to get married, that's fine. If you don't tell, that's fraud," she says. He asks if the possible spouse should also disclose if he or she were bisexual. Ally says yes. Judge Dearing says, "So, you are suggesting to this court that by marrying, a person should legally forfeit certain rights to privacy." Ally says that is not what she's saying. "You're either saying it, or you're confusing this court terribly," Judge Dearing says. "Maybe you and I should step out and get a cup of coffee," she sneers. He ignores her. "How often did your client and his wife make love prior to their marriage?" he asks. Ally says she doesn't know. "If sexual chemistry is material to the validity of the union, shouldn't you know?" he asks. Ally tells him that he knows what she is talking about. John attempts to interrupt but Ally won't let him. "If a person goes down the aisle, the person that he or she is marrying has the right to assume that he is straight," Ally says. "And the gay person has a legal duty to reveal his sexual preference?" Judge Dearing asks. Ally says yes. "Okay, we understand your position," he says, then looks towards Georgia and says, "Ms. Thomas, I don't think we need to hear from you, do we?" He looks at the other judges, then continues. "The petitioner's motion to annul the marriage is denied," he says, "We're adjourned."

Judge Dearing retires to chambers, where he removes his robe. Before he can turn around, Ally has entered his office. "What the hell is the deal, you working in a coffee shop?" she asks. "I told you," he says, "I own it. What? Does a barrister have a duty to tell his customers that he's a judge before forking over a cappuccino? I suppose I defrauded you." "The hostility in that remark alone tells me that you have bias in this case," Ally says. Judge Dearing says, "The hostility suggests my impatience with motions brought by attorneys which are a waste of this court's time. This is a no-fault state, Ms. McBeal, the very reason for which is to preempt the courts from asking the very question you waltzed in here raising." Ally tells him that no-fault goes to blaming people in a marriage. "This issue concerned whether there was a valid marriage to begin with and though the question may be a waste of your time, it wasn't preempted by the legislature, your anus…..I mean, honor," she says. Judge Dearing says that spouses lie to each other all the time. "Yes, people marry for all kinds of reasons," he says. "Some just companionship, some for tax benefits, some just to be co-parents. The point is the courts don't get in there and ask why. Legally, one takes the other for better or worse. You evidently make the assumption gay is worse." Ally says, "I did not make that assumption, you pig." Judge Dearing has had it with her. He tells her she is in contempt and calls for security. "You can dump coffee on my head when I'm a civilian, but in here, I'm a judge," he says. "A horrible one," says Ally. The security guard comes in and takes Ally to jail.

Sandy is in the unisex when a toilet flushes. She looks around to see who will exit one of the stalls, but instead, John comes into the unisex with his remote flusher. He asks Sandy if she is okay. She says yes. Nelle comes in and doesn't even acknowledge that Sandy is there. She tells John that they are all going down to the bar. Sandy leaves and John mentions that someone else was in the room with them. He asks Nelle if she saw her. Nelle says yes, that she noticed Billy's secretary was there. "Do you know her name?" he asks. Nelle says yeah, but then realizes she doesn't. John says he will meet her down at the bar.

Richard and Ling are sitting together in the bar when the dancing twins come and ask her to dance with them. "That's sweet," she says, "but I'm busy this lifetime. Maybe the next one." Elaine encourages her to come dance with them. Ling turns to Richard and says, "Such a cruel joke - God making two of them." Billy sits at another table with Sandy. He admits that if he were her brother or best friend, he would give her a hundred reasons not to dance with the guy sitting across from her. He asks her to dance with him. She stands up and kisses him on the cheek, then tells him goodnight and walks away.

Judge Dearing comes to see Ally in jail. "An apology gets you out," he says. Ally responds, "I'm deeply sorry that you're such an ass." He tells her she really didn't have any legal merit to her case. "That doesn't mean I should be jailed," she says. He tells her she's in jail for calling him a horrible pig. "I called you a horrible judge, you're an ordinary pig," she says. She asks him why he does the "coffee thing." He says it is his only opportunity to interact with the people on the street. He tells her that several of his employees have the flu and he has decided to sentence her to community service and he needs her to help make espressos at the coffee shop tonight. "You might enjoy it," he tells her.

Nelle finds John in his office. "I thought you were coming down," she says, adding, "Could you speed it up. I'm getting hit on left and right. It's tiresome." "Not by any janitors, I hope," says John. He goes on to tell her that she is an elitist and it bothers him that she draws class distinctions. She says she prefers men who have ambition. "I don't see you chasing after shoe shine girls," she says. John says he gives all people respect. Nelle tells him that his attraction to her had more to do with her being beautiful and him wanting to have sex. He tells her that Billy's secretary's name is Sandy and says he's surprised she didn't know her name. "You probably wouldn't either if she weren't so pretty," says Nelle.

Ally and Hammond are working together at the coffee shop when Sandy comes in and orders a coffee. She asks Ally what she is doing. "Long story," she says, pointing at Hammond, "Crazy judge." Ally mentions that Sandy doesn't seem like her perky self and she asks her what is wrong. Sandy says that there is this guy and that he's just coming off a divorce but she likes him. She says she doesn't want to be his rebound relationship. She tells Ally that the guy is Billy. Ally is surprised and at first, acts like she doesn't want to get involved, saying she is a friend of Georgia's. But, she decides to give her two cents anyway. "I'm the last person in the world to give anybody advice about love, or anything," she says, "but I do know two things. Three, actually. First, under the bleached head, he's one of the greatest guys I've ever met. Second, being loved by him or loving him, it's pretty special. And third, if he's even a maybe, you've got to check it out. Because guys who could be right or even remotely could be the one, they don't come along often, if ever."

> John is still in his office. Now, he's doing his "Gimmee dat ding" dance. Richard comes in. "That's your angry dance," he says. John yells at him that he IS angry. "Nelle is a rich bitch elitist snob," John says. He tells Richard that Nelle considers it beneath herself to date a janitor. "It's a good thing," Richard says. "Most women, when they get married, they want that big, big house and the husband has to work, work, work to be able to build her that big house and while he's working, she gets lonely and shtups the contractor. Circle of life, John. You're better off with Nelle. All men are not created equal. Some are big and strong. Some are short and fat. Some are clever, some are strange. Some are handsome, some aren't. And for those non-handsome, short, strange little men, and I think we know who we're talking about, he needs an equalizer. The equalizer is money. You're a funny little man with money and Nelle loves money. Instead of condemning her for her values, you should be grateful, otherwise, what chance on this earth do you stand of getting her?" John says, sarcastically, "As always, your perspective is refreshing."

Hammond and Ally continue working together at the coffee shop and it appears Ally is actually having a good time. Hammond even walks Ally home. She tells him that he seems happier in an apron than he does in a robe. He admits that the robe has its perks. They stop at Ally's place and he asks if there is a possibility he could a real date out of all this. He asks about the next night. Ally says she is going to have to check because she dates a lot, then she says that the next night will probably work. "This isn't a kiss," he says, "this would just be a polite peck goodnight." He leans in and gives her a polite peck. "That was very courteous," she says. They say goodnight. Before she goes into her apartment, Hammond asks her about her case. "Did you really believe all that stuff you were saying?" She says that yes, she does. "In the spirit of honesty then, I guess I should tell you," says Hammond, "I'm bisexual." Ally is speechless.

The next morning, Ally is in her office with Elaine. She asks her if she would date a bisexual man. Elaine answers yes with no hesitation. Elaine asks when Ally is going to see Hammond. She says tonight. "Are you sure you didn't agree to meet with him sooner? It would explain why he's here," says Elaine. Ally looks up to see Hammond in her doorway. He tells her that he couldn't sleep and he asks if they can talk. "I know it might seem inappropriate for me to stay and listen, but just this once?" asks Elaine. Ally says no and Elaine reluctantly leaves. Ally asks him why he wasn't able to sleep. He says she looked a little thrown the night before. "I'm so sick and tired of guys at the end of a date telling me that they are bisexual," she attempts to joke. She finally admits she was thrown. He asks if his disclosure makes a different. Ally says yes. "The truth is, I don't actually date, not for the fun of it. I more like audition potential husbands and if I don't see any potential, I don't waste my time," she says. "And you see no potential in me because I'm bisexual," Hammond says. Ally says that she supposes she associates a lifestyle of promiscuity with bisexuality. "I suppose I'm insecure that a bisexual man has sexual needs that I can't fulfill," she says. "I suppose I like to think of my husband taking my son to a ball game and not having to worry about whether daddy is checking out the pitcher's glutes. I suppose I'm nervous about my kids being teased because of their father's sexual…….I suppose I'm worried about diseases. I suppose in the end, I'm far more homophobic than I ever imagined," she says. Hammond says, "When any person gets married, he or she pledges fidelity. For you to assume a bisexual person is less able to be monogamous, that is a prejudice. As for taking my son to a ball game, well, if your straight husband took your daughter to a women's basketball game, and you were concerned about daddy checking out the point guard's glutes, you'd have issues to work out with your husband, straight or not. As for your fears of your kids being teased, that's cowardice. Your fears of disease, ignorance, bias, take your pick. As for your all-too-comfortable resignation to being homophobic, without the will to root out the why or the compulsion to address it, that's as sad as it is inexcusable." Ally tells him that he makes for a great judge and a good guy, but "the only thing that is really relevant in this discussion is that I don't want to go out with you." Hammond leaves.

Sandy comes into Billy's office, closing the door behind her. "Do you really want to try this?" she asks. Billy says yes. "There have to be ground rules," she says. "No physical contact in this office. No flirting, no unprofessional behavior, no sudden expectations of me doing your laundry. No lying. If there's any relapse with Georgia." She again states that there must be no physical contact in the office. "I would do nothing to jeopardize your job or career," Billy says. They kiss. The door opens and Richard and John are surprised by what they see. "Excellent, she'll sue," says Richard. They close the door. "Great, it's already out in the open," says Sandy. They continue with their kiss.

Ally and Nelle are in the unisex. Richard comes in and asks Nelle if she's met any cute custodians lately. She isn't amused and leaves. "I might be a little off base here, but it seems in court there may have been some chemistry between you and one of those judges. Looking at you now, I can't help but wonder," Richard says to Ally, "is he bi?" he asks, adding, "Elaine hinted." Ally says she thinks her fear may have come from ignorance. "Men have urges," Richard says. "Imagine if Clinton were bi, it could have been Linda Tripp under that desk." Ally doesn't think that's very funny, but she is afraid that she may have ruined things with a good man. Richard asks if it's too late. Ally thinks about it for a minute then says no, it isn't.

Nelle comes into John's office and asks if she can talk to him. "I'm cleaning up my office at the moment, which I assume will be a turn-off to you," he says. She asks him if he has any clue as to how weird he is. She picks up a remote off his desk and clicks it. Immediately, she is three inches shorter. She picks up another remote which, when clicked, removes all her hair pins. "Look what I put up with," she says. "I date a man who has remotes for toilets, my shoes, my hair pins. Who can't make love to me unless he pretends he's Barry White. Whose nose whistles. And you now accuse me of being intolerant?" He asks her if she would date him if he didn't have any money. She says yes. "But would I have been as attracted to you if you weren't successful? Quite possibly no." He says that is what troubles him. "Well then, you're a dweeb," she says. She says he told her that when he was in high school, the girls would laugh at him and the boys would pick on him. He told himself that one day he would be rich and successful. Now he is rich and successful and everybody likes him and he can't handle it. "If you want people to embrace who you used to be, then why don't you go back to being the dweeb you were in high school," she says.

On the way to the coffee shop, Ally hears several songs in her head, songs having to do with "bi-ways," "both sides," and "getting round and round." She finally settles on "Tell Him." When Hammond sees her in the coffee shop, he asks if she came there to dump coffee on his head. She says that she has been rethinking. She imagines seeing Hammond kiss her. She tells him that she agrees that she is completely guilty of bigotry. She then imagines Hammond kissing a man. "And, I just can't get by it," she says. She tells him that she realizes it is her loss but that she just can't get by it. He says he heard her advise a woman that if a man can even remotely be the one, she should give him a chance. "Sometimes, prejudice wins out," Ally says. He asks if that is what she came to tell him. Ally says no, that she guesses she came to say goodbye. Ally walks out of the coffee shop and sits on a bench, then sadly puts her head in her hands.


Well, I guess as much as I don't want to (for fear of, no matter what position I take, being slammed from the other side), I will address Ally's reaction to Hammond's bisexuality. Personally, I think Ally's problem is much deeper than just an aversion to dating someone who is bisexual. I think Ally needs to start looking closer at the men she is thinking of dating. In the first season, she dumped a guy because he kept getting salad dressing on his face. Just last week, she dumped a guy because he had an awful laugh. Personally, as hard as Ally is looking for "it," I was surprised she wasn't more flattered by Hammond from the very beginning. (Okay, maybe the kiss was taking it a bit too far.) Instead, she's annoyed. Maybe she was having a bad day - whatever - but she needs to keep her eyes open. If she's not careful, she's going to end up passing the love of her life right by.

That being said, I will completely reverse myself and say that I don't think Ally is a bad person for making that final decision. Some women just feel that way about bisexual men. Some of my very best friends in the world are gay and bisexual men. But these are not men that I would want to share my bed with.

Nelle really earned her nickname "subzero" in this one. I am not surprised by her attitude, however, I was surprised that she was so blatant about it. Of course, the truth is the world is full of people who feel exactly like Nelle when it comes to "classes."

I loved the character of Hammond. I wish that story line hadn't ended that way. He could have been an interesting new addition.

Billy and Sandy -- I could not be more bored.

Ling is in only one scene, but for her, that's all it takes to earn my....

Favorite Line:

Ling, to the dancing twins after they ask her to dance: "That's sweet, but I'm busy this lifetime. Maybe the next one."

And, after Elaine encourages her to come dance, to Richard: "Such a cruel joke, God making two of them."

Copyright © 2000 Dana Bonistalli. All rights reserved.