Case #2.14: "Chapel of Love"

Doug dumps out a huge plastic bag full of heart-shaped cards onto the table in the Chapel. Grinning to himself, he picks up a pen and starts writing on one of the cards. Tom watches curiously over his shoulder. 

Tom grabs one of the cards and reads the message: "Love always, I'll never forget. Doug Penhall." The next card he picks up says the same thing, so do the next several. Tom pulls himself onto the table, sitting squarely in the mess of Valentines, and asks how many Doug is sending out. Doug guesses about 200, "one for every woman I've ever dated."

Tom asks the obvious question: Why? It seems that every year around Valentine's Day, one of Doug's exes has recently broken up with her boyfriend and she'll agree to go out with him. When they do, both parties are disappointed at the end of the night. 

Tom wonders what happened to Dorothy. Doug explains that he's planning for the future; he and Dorothy have been dating off-and-on since they were 14 and the relationship never lasts for more than 6 months at a stretch. Dorothy is away visiting her parents, so they aren't going out for Valentine's Day.

Tom hates Valentine's Day. He isn't going on a special date with Amy either because they had a disagreement. Doug thinks anything serious enough to blow off Valentine's Day qualifies as a meltdown. I would have to agree with him on that one. He suggests that Tom is just cheap and purposely caused trouble with Amy before the big day so he won't have to buy her a present.

Harry joins them. He's recently started seeing a girl, but she thinks going out for Valentine's Day together is too serious. That is never a good sign. Judy appears, wearing a very pretty (if a bit tight) pale pink dress with a plunging back and big heart-shaped earrings. The guys stare. She tells them it's not a big deal that she's going out to dinner.

"That dress makes it a big deal," Tom disagrees, "Who is he?" Judy replies that it's just ADA Lamar. "Oooh," the guys chorus. She struts out. Harry blows her a kiss. "How come she has a date and we don't?" asks Doug.

Blowfish comes into the squadroom whistling. He's happy with himself for remembering to send flowers and candy to Mrs. Blowfish. Harry asks if he's going home for dinner. "Are you kidding?" says Blowfish, "I just bought myself an excuse for not going home for at least the next 5 hours." He suggests they play a game of poker. 

Cap'n Rufus passes by to say goodnight. The captain is also dateless. Tom and Fuller banter in poker terms; to me, they might as well be speaking Russian. I've never played poker in my life and have only the vaguest understanding of the rules, thanks in part to my dad and the movie Casino Royale. At the end of their chat, Fuller sets his briefcase down and says, "Gentlemen, ante up." 

The guys have found a green felt poker table somewhere and pulled up their chairs around it. All someone needs is a cigar and a green plastic visor. There's more chatter about poker rules before Doug declares, "This is pitiful. 5 guys on Valentine's Day and not one of us has a date." Well, technically, Blowfish does; he should be taking his wife for a nice dinner. 

Cap'n Rufus starts chuckling and says he probably had the worst date of his life one Valentine's Day. He took a girl named Janet to the drive-in movies. It rained; Rufus was driving a convertible and the top wouldn't go up. At some later point in the night, the convertible, which Rufus had borrowed from a friend, got stolen.  

Blowfish tells the guys he once had a date so bad that it was life-changing. He was 16 and had planned out the night for months. His girlfriend Rosa had agreed to "go all the way" with him on her 16th birthday.

Flashback. Blowfish turns off the lamp in Rosa's living room. Mood lighting? He spritzes in some breath spray. Blowfish figured they wouldn't be interrupted because Rosa's dad was at his bowling league and her mom was in Philadelphia. Rosa walks in, dressed in what looks like a Catholic school uniform.

"Rosa, I love you," says Teen Blowfish, "I really do. And I'll respect you in the morning." How's that for openers? "Do you respect me now?" asks Rosa. Teen Blowfish doesn't answer.

Rosa turns on the lamp, stands up, and goes to the mantle. She turns a picture of Jesus to face the wall. "You know," Rosa says, "if he catches us, we're gonna have to get married." Teen Blowfish, clearly confused, asks, "Jesus?" Rosa shakes her head: "My father."

Teen Blowfish reassures her that nothing will interrupt her dad's bowling and beckons her back over to the couch. Rosa joins him and turns off the lamp again. She worries that her dad might come back early and goes into the kitchen for something to drink. 

Blowfish knew when Rosa's dad was coming home because his friend Harvey worked at the bowling alley and was keeping watch for him. Rosa comes back into the living room just as Teen Blowfish gets off the phone with Harvey. She sits on the couch with Teen Blowfish and they begin to make out.

At the bowling alley, Harvey is sent to the men's room to mop up puke. He sees Rosa's dad drop a bowling ball on his foot, likely rendering him unable to finish the next game, but Harvey can't get to the phone to warn Teen Blowfish. We learn that Rosa's dad Lou was a massive Italian guy nicknamed "the House."

In Rosa's living room, the couple keeps making out. Teen Blowfish is down to his undershirt and boxers; Rosa is still fully dressed. She panics when she hears a car but Teen Blowfish assures her it's nothing. She argues that it's her father opening the garage door.

Teen Blowfish jumps off Rosa, grabs his pants, and sprints through the kitchen. Rosa hides in a nearby closet. Teen Blowfish can't find a hiding place and jiggles the closet doorknob. "There's no room!" Rosa calls through the door, "Sal, I really think you should go home now." Teen Blowfish sprints up the stairs just before Lou comes in the front door.

Lou bends over as he notices Teen Blowfish's shirt on the floor. "Damn kids leavin' clothes all over the damn place," he mutters. He calls Rosa's name and starts up the stairs. Lou puts his bowling bag in his bedroom and sits down on the bed. Unbeknownst to him, Teen Blowfish is hiding under it. 

Just as Lou makes himself comfortable on the bed, a quarter rolls under it. Without thinking, Teen Blowfish rolls the quarter back out from under the bed. Lou frowns curiously, stands, and lifts up his mattress. Through the springs, he sees mostly-undressed Blowfish.

Back in the present, Tom, Doug, and Fuller laugh hysterically. Rosa's uncle was a priest, so she and Blowfish got married at the next morning's 9:00 Mass. "Big Lou wasn't taking any chances," Blowfish explains. He takes a single Polaroid out of his wallet, lays it on the table, and says, "Gentlemen, my entire wedding album." Blowfish wraps up the story by saying, "What's ironic is that we never did anything. My wife was a virgin on our wedding night."

It's Harry's turn to deal for the poker game. He says the wild card will be "those guys with the one eye." Doug says he dated a girl with one eye, well, really two but she had an eyepatch. "I think it was for that one date too," says Doug, "She tied me to the mast of her father's sailboat, kept me there for 3 weekend of my life." Blowfish says Doug has to have had at least one bad date out of his 200 women.

Doug admits that he did and it was with identical twins named Mary Lou and Betty Sue Fitzgerald. "I was madly in love...or at least filled with lust." he says. Tom asks which one; Doug honestly answers that it was lust. Tom meant which sister. Doug laughs, "They were identical twins, man. It didn't matter."

Cap'n Rufus sums up my thoughts at this point: "Penhall, you are a dog." It began when Doug ran into Betty Sue at the store and asked her out to dinner at the Tiki Room. When he called to confirm the date, he didn't know that Mary Lou had answered because they sounded the same on the phone. He didn't realize what he'd done until it was too late.

Flashback. A waiter in a Hawaiian shirt walks Doug and his date to the table. The Tiki Room's decor is about as subtle as a theme restaurant at Disney World. Doug says the place had "those drinks with the little umbrellas in 'em and the fruit mix and all that. Well, 2 of those and you either got drunk...or sick...or both."

Doug's Hawaiian print tie clashes horribly with his suit; his date is in a long-sleeved black dress. Pretty funereal choice for a Tiki bar. Doug nervously rocks in his chair. He excuses himself to go to the men's room.

On his way, he sees the other twin sitting at the bar. She's wearing a red sweater and short black leather skirt. Red Sweater chastises him for being late. Doug realizes that Black Dress is the girl he asked out in the store and Red Sweater must've answered the phone. 

The rest of the conversation is intercut with flashes to the present. Doug informs the rest of the Jump Street men that the devil on his shoulder won (no kidding) and he decided to hedge his bets with both the twins. His coworkers tell him how greedy and stupid it was.

Flashback to the Tiki Room. The sassy bald waiter beckons Doug over. Doug lies about having an important phone call to make and asks Red Sweater to wait at the bar. The waiter promises not to say anything to the twins about Doug going after both of them if Doug leaves a good tip.

Doug lies again to Black Dress, saying he ran into a guy he knew at the bar. She calls his bluff and says she knows it was a woman. She makes a twin joke. 

The waiter collects Doug and brings him back to Red Sweater. They talk briefly and Doug goes into the men's room. Doug realizes he can't get back to the table to join Betty Sue without going past Mary Lou at the bar. Desperate, Doug sees only one way out: the tiny window in the men's room. 

Doug goes into the stall closest to the window and stands on top of the toilet. He unlatches the window, pushes it open, and sticks his head out. He slips and one Chuck-Taylored foot goes into the toilet. The cord to the window latch gets caught in his tie, choking him. He struggles. The cord snaps and he falls to the filthy men's room floor.

Doug decides to go back to the table to eat dinner with Betty Sue. The waiter has just brought a flaming platter to the table. Doug suggests they get their dinner to-go. Betty Sue agrees, "If we get hungry later, we can always light it on fire again." She excuses herself to the ladies' room. Doug asks the waiter for a to-go box. The waiter asks, "What about the one in the bar?"

Doug goes back to the bar and finds both twins waiting for him. Instead of being angry, each twin hooks an arm through one of Doug's and they calmly walk out together. The whole thing had been a set-up by the twins.

Back to the present. Doug ends the story by saying, "They wanted to teach me a lesson, so the two of 'em took me home. Taught me a lesson over and over. And let me tell ya somethin', I learned so many lessons that night I deserve an honorary degree from Dr. Ruth." Tom gapes, open-mouthed. 

Blowfish isn't sure why this qualified as a bad date story. "They lied to me," Doug shrugs. And there's one more detail he left out. "After all this, there's more?" Tom asks weakly. Doug nods; he made it all up and has never had a bad date. Blowfish tosses a handful of poker chips at Doug's head.

More card-related banter. Blowfish wants to know about the worst date of Tom's life. Tom argues that he's there to play cards, so Cap'n Rufus decides to tell another story. The date in question caused the breakup of his marriage.

Back in the day as a patrolman, Cap'n Rufus had a female partner named Lynette Johnson who occasionally came onto him. They spent a lot of time talking because they were assigned to an extremely quiet district; the department was liberal enough to let women join but hesitated about exposing them to too much danger. 

Cap'n Rufus's 7-year marriage had hit a rough spot. On an especially slow day, Rufus and Lynette took an extended coffee break at a local motel. A call came in and they missed it. This resulted in a full review board hearing. Rufus's wife found out about the affair because he had to explain why he was suspended without pay for 6 months.

The rest of the guys sit around the table with appropriately solemn expressions. Cap'n Rufus shrugs it off by saying that nobody died and reminds them, "Gentlemen, we are playin' poker in a church. I mean, we're gonna burn for this." 

The boys start to play a different game that involves sticking a card face-up onto your forehead. Judy comes in with a megaphone, announcing, "This is a raid." Judy wants to play; her Valentine date was a disaster. The ADA was late joining her at the sushi bar. He considered Valentine's Day to be their second date because he once bought Judy a sandwich from the courthouse vending machine. Judy hadn't been to this sushi bar before and didn't know there was a karaoke machine. The ADA was about to sing a sappy song to her when she bolted. Good call, Judy.

The guys still want to hear about Tom's worst date. "If you don't tell your story, I'm gonna sit on ya," Doug threatens. Tom, probably envisioning crushed ribs and/or internal injuries, finally gives in. 

16-year-old Tom had a date to the school Valentine dance. Tom Senior drove Tom and Diane to the school in his police car, promising to pick them up when the dance was over. Tom and Diane had a nice, wholesome time making out in a deserted hallway and not dancing. 

In the meantime, Charlie and Senior stopped for coffee at their usual diner. Suddenly, a robber burst through the kitchen door and shot at Charlie. Senior shot and killed the robber, but not before the robber was able to shoot him. 

Tom and Diane sat on the school steps waiting for Senior to come and get them. The teen lovebirds made plans for another date. A police car arrived, driven by a uniformed cop who wasn't Senior. A plainclothes detective tagged along. Charlie had been sent back on patrol. Senior died in the emergency room.

Judy wipes away a tear. Tom's proud of what his dad did, but he can't think of Valentine's Day without thinking of his father's death. When they're finished playing cards, Doug says it wasn't fair for Tom to take out his hatred of Valentine's Day on Amy. Tom cashes out. Judy offers to buy the rest of the guys a drink; they all agree. End of episode. 

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