Anthony comes around to collect the book report he's conned Mary Jo into writing for him as a junior college assignment, but the criticism of the others about the harm resulting from doing someone's work for them makes her think twice and she refuses to hand over the assignment. Suzanne's ex-husband breezes into town, desolate because his latest novel has been rejected as a Book-of-the-Month Club alternate, as well as turned down by every other media. Anthony offers to take some of the copies off his hands if there is a prepared report available to go with it.
Dash Goff, the erstwhile author hangs around for several days, sliding deeper into depression with each rejection. His apathetic behavior is driving the others in the household crazy; he figures that as long as he's paying alimony, that entitles him to a place to sleep while he's negotiating. After reading the manuscript, everyone declares that it is really pretty good; they can't understand why it hasn't sold, in spite of the difficulty of translating the humor to the screen. In an attempt to lighten his depression and acknowledge how she likes his work, Julia invites Dash out to dinner --- her treat! Over the main course, she praises the book and suggests they start a literary study group with Dash as the mentor.
Dash finds a way of positive reinforcement and making everyone feel they are someone special during one-on-one encounters. His charm is so successful that soon he has Anthony reading F. Scott Fitzgerald in their literary session. Seeking to prove a point about the ever-increasing lack of vocabulary most people employ, he challenges the group to describe a person present, by expanding the definition, not just stating the facts. In a couple of beautifully phrased sentences, Julia expresses their feelings of appreciation for Dash and what he means to them. Gratified and uplifted by their well-wishes, he finds the inspiration to leave and begin work on another level --- sure of more success this time.
It is implied that Dash has become depressed and suicidal in this episode, but he never states that he's thinking of killing himself.
Dash never actually says that his alimony payments entitle him to stay with Suzanne.
The conversation between Julia and Dash takes place at Sugarbakers after their dinner --- we never see them in the restaurant.
Having been told the producers were considering either John Ritter or Gerald McRaney to play the part of her ex-husband, Delta jumped at the chance to work with Gerald McRaney --- feeling that they would have great chemistry together. Though they had met one time before, Delta and "Mac" really started to fall for each other during his appearance on the show, and he asked her out shortly afterward.
Dash returns for one more appearance in Reservations For Eight later in this same season, and then visits again on Women of the House in the episode The Afternoon Wife.
"She had one of those guilty smiles, where the corners of the mouth turned upward just
in time to keep the lips quiet --- leaving a man to wonder if she'd wrecked his car,
slept with his best friend, or given all his clothes to the Salvation Army."
SUZANNE: Dash, do you ever wonder why we got married?
DASH: No, I know why. I wanted to be a writer and I felt I hadn't suffered enough.
SUZANNE: How do you feel now?
DASH: I feel that I have.
SUZANNE: Y'know, being married to you wasn't a walk in the park either. You always used to get mad about the least little thing, like if I just happened to throw away the wrong papers or something.
DASH: I think you're referring to my third novel.
SUZANNE: Do you still miss me?
DASH: Sometimes...................when I'm drunk.
SUZANNE: Y'know you should do something about that. 'Oughtta go to that Schic Center or something.
DASH: Unfortunately they don't have a program for men who were married to you, dated you, or just brushed up against you in an elevator.
SUZANNE:(smiling)............. you do still miss me.
"And when an affair was over, she left a man dazed, and wobbly, and squinty-eyed
like some wrung-out old gas station dog --- all spindly legs and dry heaves, sometimes
trying to stand in the shadow of his former self, but mostly just staring disinterested into
the hot delta sun. This is what is known in the South as 'Being Belled.' "
JULIA: When I finished your book last night, I had one pang of regret.
DASH: What's that?
JULIA: That you're not my brother-in-law anymore. I kinda liked being related to someone who has this kind of panache and style. There's not much left of that in the world, y'know. So few people appreciate good literature, or even read for that matter.
DASH: You have always belonged with another time.
JULIA: Oh, you think so? Where would you put me?
DASH: Oh, I don't know.........sometime before flirting became extinct, when letter writing was an art, stationary was engraved, and dinner was an event. (Referencing his book) Say, did you by any chance find yourself in here?
JULIA: (innocently) No! I didn't notice anything.............well, there was this one passage about a woman who ran a perpetual temperature from cool porcelain to hot steel and could fan a fire with a quick sashay of her walk.........(smiling coyly) ....but I didn't think that was me.
DASH: Well, it was.
"Charlene. She was all cotton candy and pink champagne --- legs
that stretched out for five or six miles, and one of those laughs
that made you feel like riding around in a convertible."
DASH: Last time we talked about how our individual language banks are shrinking, our adjectives are imprecise and ordinary, and we've developed a kind of counterfeit communication that diminishes us all with its banality.
ANTHONY: Say what?
MARY JO: In other words, we don't talk good.
DASH: That's right. We don't talk good, and we don't write good. I'm gonna ask you all to test your creative powers by coming up with a descriptive sentence about someone in this class. A good way to begin your sentence would be 'he was like' or 'she was the kind of woman who'.........For example, if I were describing Julia, I might say 'she was the kind of woman who wore old money as casually as last year's clothes.'
SUZANNE: Well, I don't think that's a very good one.
DASH: Well, alright, Suzanne. Would you like to try one? And don't tell us who it is.
SUZANNE: Alright. 'He was like an ex-convict who cheated on his book report.'
JULIA: and CHARLENE: and MARY JO: Suzanne!!
ANTHONY: Now that's cold.
DASH: Anthony, would you like to try one?
ANTHONY: Yes, I believe I would. How 'bout 'she was the kind of woman who treated men like old gas station dogs.'
DASH: I think that you all may be missing the point here. The idea is not just to state, but to illuminate. Mary Jo, do you have one?
MARY JO: Yeah, I think I do. 'She was the kind of woman who would have dated Lee Harvey Oswald in high school.'
CHARLENE: Why are you all looking at me? (then it hits her) Mary Jo, I can't believe you said that!
DASH: Charlene, you have one?
CHARLENE: Yes, I do. This is a good one, are you ready?
DASH: Go ahead.
CHARLENE: 'If words could kill, this woman would be on death row.' That's you, Julia.
JULIA: Yes, I got that. Thank you, Charlene.
CHARLENE: You're welcome.
DASH: Well, I hope you all will continue to work on this and.........uh......Mary Jo, is something wrong?
MARY JO: No. I just think it's very telling that everyone had something said about them but me. I mean, it just proves that I'm not a character.
SUZANNE: Oh, for crying out loud! She can have mine. Give her 'gas station dog'.
MARY JO: I don't want that one.
SUZANNE: Then take the one he wrote about me.
CHARLENE: You mean about throwing men away like Kleenex?
JULIA: That doesn't fit Mary Jo.
SUZANNE: Oh I see!! Well I cannot believe I'm the only litterbug around here.
CHARLENE: Dash, you're the writer. You describe Mary Jo.
DASH: Well, ok. I would say that Mary Jo is 'part calico choir girl...........and part satin dance hall doll, with amber eyes and a dash of hellcat red in her hair --- the kind of woman that a man wants in his bedroom when he's sick.............and in his bed when he's not.'
MARY JO: Thank you.
CHARLENE: Oh!! I like that one. That's a good one.
SUZANNE: Oh, get serious! Mary Jo a hellcat?
CHARLENE: He just said there's hellcat in her hair!
SUZANNE: I know what he said, but he implied that she is one.
MARY JO: You don't know everything about me, Suzanne! I might be a hellcat in disguise.
JULIA: If you all could quit quibling for one second, I have something here I've been working on. 'Dash Goff, a lover of women --- mostly Southern, and words --- all kinds. And when he got them both together between two covers, it was a rip-roaring firecracking, roller coaster of a ride -- and we are all better for having bought a ticket.'
"DASH'S THANK YOU NOTE"
"Yesterday, in my mind's eye, I saw four women standing on a verandah
in white gauzy dresses and straw colored hats.
They were having a conversation, and it was hot
--- their hankies tucked in cleavages where eternal trickles of
perspiration run from the female breast bone
to exotic vacation spots that Southern men often dream about.
They were sweet smelling, coy, cunning, voluptuous, voracious,
delicious, pernicious, vexing and sexing --- these earth sister rebel mothers,
these arousers and carousers. And I was filled with a longing to join them.
But like a whim of Scarlett's, they turned suddenly and went inside,
shutting me out with the bolt of a latch.
And I was left only to pick up an abandoned handkerchief
and savor the perfumed shadows of these women.
These Southern women.
This Suzanne, this Julia, this Mary-Jo and Charlene.
Thanks for the comfort. "
---Dash Goff, the Writer
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