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40-02-20 Rush's Good Looks


Rush thinks he's good-looking, because Anabel Hemstreet "has been talking mighty free" about Rush's good looks at school.

It's deja vu
While Rush is full of himself in this episode, the strange twist is that the entire family is going through a terrific deja vu but that phrase, "deja-vu" is never uttered; instead, the family keeps piling on items that happened exactly the same way before.

The episode is much shorter (about half-length) than usual and we never find out the ending.
Rush’s good looks could beat out Leland Richards’ good looks any day.

The insightful Sarah Cole points out [below] that Paul Rhymer comments on the shared experience of the human psyche here by having the characters talk all about experiencing deja vu, without knowing the proper name for the phenomenon. I would like to add that at the end of the episode, Rush employs a tactical social maneuver that didn’t even have a name until 2011 — the humblebrag. “I want to brag about myself but I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging so I’m going to veil it in a self-pitying complaint.” Although Macmillan Dictionary argues that the humblebrag “is a product of the social media revolution,” this episode shows that Rush, a 14-year-old in 1940, was no stranger to this form of human vanity, and Leland Richards finds himself on the receiving end of a very blatant humblebrag indeed.

This episode is incomplete. I’m guessing some kind of technical malfunction must have occurred during the recording because the organist hops in right after it cuts out and improvises quite beautifully for a while in order to fill the dead air. I do love that organ music…wish we had the rest of this one, though, because it’s a funny one, just like any episode concerning Rush and his high school problems. It’s also strangely jarring to come into a Vic and Sade episode in the middle because Paul Rhymer was such a structured writer — the scripts are arranged almost like musical compositions, as Gary Motter has observed. Repeating gags or phrases within an episode (“Somebody knock me over with a feather,” “I will not sign,” “Shall we jump?”) tend to come in threes or fives, distributed evenly throughout the ten minutes, like a refrain, with each instance building upon the material that came before it. I’m guessing Rush talked about his “good ol’ skull” and his “creamy complexion” three to four other times in the minutes of tape that we didn’t get to hear.
 SEE THE SCRIPT (transcribed by Lydia Crowe)
I would really like to know the turn of events in the last half of the show. Whatever it was would certainly play in with the deja-vu the family is having and I can envision it also having to do with Anabel.... but I wasn't blessed with Paul Rhymer's brain so I suppose I will never know.


+ Sade says she has that feeling (deja vu) at Thimble Club meetings.

+ Anabel Hemstreet is mentioned for the first time in the surviving audio.
One of the aspects of Paul Rhymer's domestic descriptions I've appreciated has been his candor. For instance, in the episode about the wheels within wheels at the local high school, Rush lets drop he has a butter-filching friend, and that one of the teachers has a physically abusive wife. Uncle Fletcher regularly refers to acquaintances who face uncomfortable personal problems. The situations are mentioned, not to be shocking, but because, unhappily, they are part of the human condition. The members of the Gook family trust each other enough to confide such sensitive information. In this episode, Sade mentions an odd experience she has had: that of feeling as if she has lived through an incident before. Although the revelation is not shocking, it could have led to suspicions of mental instability, if told to the wrong person. As it is, Sade describes her sense of deja-vu without comment or criticism. I wonder how many of her listeners would have felt comfortable enough with their intimates to make such a confession.

Another interesting thing about Vic and Sade's naturalness is its historical accuracy. Because it is a contemporary description of life in central Illinois during the 1930s and '40s, modern listeners can hear the sort of things that was on the minds of their great-grandparents. We often find out that the problems we face today aren't all that different from the ones they faced; or conditions we think no other generation has had to confront, are, in fact, as old as the human psyche. Only the name is new. Sade may never have heard the words "deja- vu," but her description is evidence that the phenomenon is not a recent development. - SARAH COLE
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