18. Tulsey Town

One of the issues begging to be addressed as the couple arrive for ice cream at Tulsey Town — a fictional chain invented by Kaufman when Dairy Queen refused to participate — is the overpowered nature of the young woman. It’s a major problem. She seems to know everything and is capable of comforting or charming everyone. It’s a mark of bad contemporary writing from juvenile male writers and Kaufman is falling into that trap.

So it’s notable that the young woman comes into contact at the Tulsey Town with two women immune to her intelligence and charm and who do not seem to see her at all. This is the first social challenge she’s faced in the movie and it’s compounded when the girl serving her alludes to her not being as pretty as her coworkers.

This leads to some nervous backtracking from the girl, but the point remains stated. The girl is an odd character, someone who we will see later walking the hallway of the school as the janitor goes by. My speculation is that both Jake and the girlfriend are partly constructed out of this young woman (and remember that the Jake/young woman amalgam picture has already made an appearance at the family house.

From Jake, the girl has taken on a similar rash. From the young woman, there’s both a similar disposition and a form of foreknowledge that she possessed (but is never explained.) While on the subject of things not explained, what up with the “varnish smell” or whatever that is? This bit exists both in the book and movie and I have no idea what either of them mean.

What else is there really to say about the Tulsey Town scene? To me, it’s another of those less there than meets the eye moments in the movie. It sets a David Lynch like atmosphere and presents a rationale for Jake to take the detour to the school, but it otherwise doesn’t tell us much, except that pretty high school girls find the janitor/Jake creepy. I think it gets that across, but they seem pretty off center themselves.

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