An admissions officer must have a strong constitution to be on the receiving end of an entire nation's application panic, to endure the frustration and anger of all the so-called millennial parents who just realized...
Come on, hurry up!
God, Mom, relax.
There isn't room for every perfectly nurtured, organically fed, well-tutored offspring.
Okay, I'm your tour guide.
There's no point trying to impress me.
I have absolutely no power over your fate here.
The people with the power are right in there.
The admissions officers.
And, no, that sign is not an omen.
Except for some of you. Almost all of you, actually.
We had 26,241 applications last year, 1,308 of those applicants are attending school here.
James, tours leave at 9:15. It's 9:25.
Sorry. I thought I'd wait. We had a, uh, late arrival.
I'm sorry. Our GPS lied.
No worries, Mrs. Lafont.
Welcome to Princeton.
So what's the secret to getting in?
Just be yourself.
If this is the right place for you, then this is where you'll end up.
Okay, let's go see Princeton! We're going to play a fun game.
It's called "Spot the Nobel Prize Winner."
What's the secret to getting in? There has to be one, right?
Well, there is, but I can't tell you. Not yet.
What I can tell you is everyone thinks we're sadists.
That we like saying no. This is not true.
- No. Portia.
No. No. No.
You're second reader on my territory this season.
Yes, I know. As are you. On mine. That's the way it works.
Oh, I'll just wait until you catch up. With me.
We are in this job for one reason.
Hello? - Is this Portia Nathan?
- To say... Yes?
Wow, I didn't think I'd get you.
It's John Pressman from The New Quest School in Keene, New Hampshire.
Yeah. I sent you a few e-mails, and left a couple of messages.
Listen, thank you for calling.
Can you please e-mail me your information and I will call you back?
Hey, not so rough. How'd you like to have your udder yanked like that?
Sorry, I was just talking to a student. Uh.
People! Everyone, please.
I have a couple of announcements.
There is an announcement.
Portia, we're a new developmental school, and we have our first graduating class this year.
I know you're gonna be making your school visits in the next few weeks.
I'd like for you to visit our campus.
Our kids would gain a lot from it, and I think you would, too.
Right, I will look into it. I got to go.
I went to Dartmouth, same time as you...
Bye. Thank you for calling.
So, we're breaking records in application numbers, naturally, because we've been number one for so long.
Number one until today.
Princeton has just fallen to number two.
What this means is that we all have to work harder than ever.
Because I want to go out on top.
Yes, you see, the rumors are true.
I have decided to retire and pass the baton to a worthy successor.
I'm spending an extra four days in the Andover Hotchkiss triangle.
And I've added five full days to the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California.
And I've added a number of new schools.
In fact, I was just talking to the co-founder of Quest, a developmental high school with their first year of college applicants.
Clarence, we're going to be back on top.
We're going to make that happen by working together.
As a mother myself, I know the importance of teamwork.
And I'm not a mother, but I know the importance of it, too.
Can't go it alone.
Because you two are my superstars.
And nothing would make me happier than if one of you were to have this office next year.
Class of 2016.
Pediatric surgery best combines my love of children, of science, and my desire to give back to my community.
Yes, but you didn't challenge yourself academically.
B's in physics and you didn't take AP Chem.
Since 1841, every male in my family has attended the place.
Student body president and gymnastics national champion.
Educated family. Privileged upbringing. Unfair advantage?
Twenty-four hundred on the SAT. 4.5 GPA.
And my poetry, written in my mother's psych ward, will be published by Knopf.
And my father is Cuban.
And in a wheelchair.
Hey, can I get some advice?
No. Applicatus interruptus. You know the rule.
Never start a folder if you can't finish it.
I have to start over anyway. Okay.
This kid from Alaska, Aput Kunayak. Uh...
High grades, but low scores.
President of 10 clubs, but that might be because of his ADD.
We want to accept people who will succeed here.
I once fought for a bipolar Inuit girl, and she lasted 19 days.
Do you think he might fail?
Maybe. I like him.
It's so hard.
You can't take it so personally.
You have to toughen up or you won't last here either.
Now outsies. I'm swamped.
I hope it's you.
Back to work.
Portia? Portia. Portia.
I'm so sorry. I've got an emergency.
Can you just watch the kids while I run to the vet?
Because Richard's at his Faulkner seminar.
Me? Mark should have been home 20 minutes ago.
And it's our poetry night.
And, really, I'm the last person you want watching your kids.
Did someone die?
Rachael's dog's sick. She begged me.
I've got essays to grade.
Oh, it's okay.
Aw, it's okay. Mommy's here.
What did you do to them?
Rachael, you know Portia's not good with kids.
It's not her fault.
Kids just don't take to some people.
I don't know what you were thinking.
Sorry, he's right.
They're like pit bulls. They can smell fear.
Take them all.
"A man may do no synne with his wyf,."
"Ne hurte hymselven with his owene knyf."
You know, if I get Clarence's job, this would be my last travel season.
Lovely and wonderful.
I've got everything timed out.
I'll be back in time for the department lunch.
And I've ordered everything, you just have to pick up the chicken.
And I will stop and get the famous bean salad on my way home.
Ah, the famous bean salad.
Is that horrible Woolf woman going to be there?
Helen is the preeminent Virginia Woolf scholar.
It was quite a coup to get her from Cambridge.
But I think she has other plans.
Lovely and wonderful.
Oh, I like this life.
I do, I do.
Good. So do I.
It's so wonderfully simple.
Well, we're simple folk.
You just patted me on the head like a dog.
Oh, did I?
"Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote."
"The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote."
Hi. Thank you so much for coming.
My pleasure. We love Deerfield students.
Oh, I'm so pleased. Good.
So, can I help you bring in your things?
Princeton, in the nation's service and in the service of all nations.
So, you all want to know the secret formula for getting in, right?
Take out your pens. Write this down.
There is no secret formula.
Left on Pony Run Drive.
But I will tell you what not to do.
No champagne. No baked goods.
And when you phone, it is noted in your file.
So put the reins on those eager parents of yours.
We're looking for passion. Whatever it's for, doesn't matter.
Right on Shady Lane.
Does that mean that every Princeton undergraduate is a genius?
Or a prodigy? Absolutely not.
Although, we certainly wouldn't hold it against you.
Almost enough for everyone.
Recalculating. Recalculating. Recalculating.
Make a U-turn as soon as possible.
Portia Nathan. Princeton admissions office.
I know. I'm John.
Yes. And you said you went to Dartmouth? Uh-huh.
Yeah, and my dad, and his dad, and his dad.
Um, a legacy.
A legacy of what, I'm not really sure.
So, you're chopping some wood here?
I'm showing them how to build a sustainable irrigation system.
This is my Third World Development class.
Well, nice ax.
So, let's get to it. Yeah.
Hi, there. You all want to know the secret formula for getting in, right?
Well, take out your pens.
Take 'em out.
I'll tell you what I'd like to know.
Why should I apply to an elitist institution with a history of anti-black, anti-gay, and anti-female oppression?
Well, actually, I reject that stereotype...
Speaking of rejection, don't you reject 99.9% of your applicants?
Don't you just want to drum up applications to keep your number-one position on U.S. News & World Report?
Actually, I think it's number two this year, right?
Um, I'm sure it's an aberration.
Don't people just need a college degree if you want to pursue the societally approved definition of success?
Yeah. Wouldn't you be better off sitting in your room reading books instead of spending all that money?
I'm sorry, are you a senior?
No, I'm in sixth grade.
Yeah. Portia, this is my son. Nelson.
I'm adopted. I was born in Uganda.
Love you, buddy. Okay, Dad.
I thought it would be educational for him to sit in on this.
How's it going so far? You learning a lot?
Kind of. Half and half.
Well, there you go.
Okay. Right. Well, Nelson.
Sure, sitting in a room and reading books would be very cost-effective, but...
Princeton is a corporation, no different than an oil company.
We should be educating ourselves to be citizens of the world and not of some guarded, suburban enclave!
What we want is to leave the planet better than we found it!
Okay. Well, good luck with that.
Uh, wait, wait.
I wanna hear about Princeton. Please.
Okay, fine. But, first, I have a question for all of you.
Just how will you leave the planet better?
Will you eradicate disease?
You're gonna need a medical degree.
If you want to create new drug therapies, that's a PhD.
Do you want to defend the innocent and secure justice for all?
I regret to inform you that you will have to go to law school.
There are plenty of college graduates out there ardently hoping to leave the world better than they found it.
We are looking for those people!
Students with blazing minds and hearts who will change the goddamn world!
All right, Portia. Well done.
I bet you guys feel like a bunch of assholes.
Sorry, I probably should have warned you.
We tend to encourage that kind of spirited debate here.
But you did well. You can hit a curveball.
You know, I'd really like to introduce you to somebody.
This is Jeremiah Balakian. He's a very special student.
My parents work in a minimart.
They're not very educated. Do you think that matters or...
Of course not. It's your application.
Maybe I should apply then. Princeton seems like a cool place.
It's very cool.
So you're saying I should apply?
I'm not really your typical student.
My brain sort of goes on a little walkabout, you know?
Yes, yes. You should apply.
And if you would like to visit the campus, we can match you up with an undergrad and you can spend the night in his room. Oh.
That sounds great.
Then you could hang out and get to know each other.
Um, I don't really hang out with the applicants.
That's not how it works. Right.
Because there's over 20,000 of them. Exactly.
Still, I think you should get to know this one.
So, Portia, like The Merchant of Venice?
Yes. My mother thought if she named me that, I would grow up to be wise.
I'm lucky she didn't name me Athena.
Or Minerva. Or Sophie. Except a lot of people are named Sophie.
They probably don't even know what their name means.
Or Metis. That'd be really strange.
Or if your name was Aushenaya, or Ifiok or Saraswati.
I think you got lucky if you had to be called something that stands for wisdom.
Well, thanks for this.
I have to go. I have robotics class.
Interesting kid. He's a great kid.
Yeah, he's become like a part of my family.
I met him at a garage sale.
He was reading a law encyclopedia.
We went and had coffee, and talked for five hours.
He's a prodigy.
Well, be sure to include all of that in your recommendation.
So, how long have you been at Princeton?
Since college. Sixteen years.
Yeah? Wow. That's a long time to stay in one place.
Are you married? No. But I live with someone.
Chair of the English department. You have kids?
Can you get these cows out of the way?
Got it. They're enormous.
That one's pregnant.
Where do you stay while you're here?
My mom lives about 10 miles away.
Mom, it's me.
How many people call you Mom?
Why didn't you tell me you were coming?
I left a message. I was visiting a school nearby.
I never check my messages.
Ah, it's a good policy.
Thought I'd spend the night if it's all right with you.
I've got to get up very early and then hit a few schools and race back for Mark's department lunch.
How can you stand those English department gatherings?
What could be more dull?
Sometimes you make sacrifices for the person you've been living with for 10 years.
That's what a healthy relationship is, Mom.
Thank God I'm not in one of those.
Yes. Thank God.
If I had to do what I'm supposed to be doing every minute of my life, like you do, I'd kill myself.
Did you just say if you were me you would kill yourself?
Portia, don't exaggerate.
I'm working on my bike.
You know, they actually have stores where you can buy bikes already made.
And did you know that women are the only exploited group in history to have been idealized into powerlessness?
Erica Jong. Erica Jong, yeah.
Hey, pups. Hey!
Oh. Hi, Gloria. Hi, Betty. Hi!
You're so skinny. Come on, let's get you something to eat.
No, no! They're not skinny. They're lean.
Dogs are too dependent on humans. I'm not their slave.
They can get their own damn food.
Outside. Gophers, squirrels.
The neighbor's cat.
An unattended baby.
They're carnivores. They're meant to be hunters.
Here, hand me that, that chain break.
Mom, you look bigger.
Fake? You mean you had a boob job?
No, no, I had a mastectomy.
These are prosthetic.
I was wondering, you know, women who have really big breasts, I thought, "I'd like to see what that is like."
And I tell you, they get so in the way, it's unbelievable.
I'm thinking of trading them in for a mid-size.
When? When did you have a mastectomy?
I don't know. Five weeks ago, or so. Who keeps track?
They found a lump, it was aggressive.
Hadn't spread yet. I'm aggressive, too.
So I said, "What the hell? Why push my luck? Take 'em both."
Why didn't you tell me?
I am telling you.
I would have driven you to the hospital.
Portia, I cabbed it. I'm okay.
You know, I'm thinking, you should start calling me Susannah.
I think this could help us avoid all this mother-daughter role-playing crap that you can't seem to shake.
You're welcome to stay, but there's not much for supper, unless you want to go pick some kale.
I'm remodeling your old room.
I'm going to go make a tea kettle.
Portia Nathan. John Pressman.
Look, I was wondering if you wanted to maybe get a drink or a bite to eat or something?
Maybe talk about the application process since we're new.
I could swing by and pick you up.
I guess I could eat.
The parents all think their kids' acceptance is the final referendum on their parenting skills.
Hello, it's not about you. Mmm-hmm.
As far as I can tell, parents exist just to drive their kids insane.
Course, what the hell do I know, really?
Why, were you raised by wolves?
One wolf. And you never wanted kids? Mmm.
I love that question. Um.
It seemed unfair to subject anyone to the miserable experience that I had.
Why would you?
There's no way in hell I'd raise Nelson the way I was raised.
'Cause I was raised by sheep.
So, Uganda. Mmm-hmm.
I was working there. Nelson's mom was a friend.
And she died in a car crash, along with his uncle.
Nelson was two.
So you adopted him.
Seemed like the only thing to do.
All my friends thought for sure that I'd bail, that I was not ready to be a father, but screw that.
Right. Screw that.
Nelson loves traveling. He loves it.
We've lived in Indonesia, we built a water purification system in Myanmar.
I'm sorry. So, you're just this single dad, traveling the world with his kid, doing good?
When you put it like that it just sounds so appealing.
But I have that on a T-shirt actually, "Single dad, traveling the world with his kid, doing good."
You could borrow it someday if you'd like.
I'm not sure people would believe it on me.
Anyway, it's the best thing I ever did, adopting a kid.
It's getting late.
Um, excuse me.
Oh, no, I can't do that. Actually, sorry. I can't except gifts.
Excuse me. Princeton wants to buy me a chicken sandwich.
Thank you so much.
Portia, there's something I want to ask you.
And I know this is all a bit abrupt.
Do you think you have room for one more in your life?
One more what?
One more person.
Oh, John, that's so sweet.
But... You seem like a great guy, too.
And you can handle an ax, and you have a very nice nose in your face, but I have a long-term boyfriend. Long, long, long term.
And, you know, we are happy. We're very happy. We're so happy. It's...
Wow. Happy is one of those words that if you say it a lot, it loses its meaning, like fork.
Fork, fork, fork, fork. Mmm-hmm.
Happy, happy, happy, happy.
Happy fork. It's not... Portia, what I mean... Look...
Goodbye. Thank you. This was so much better than kale.
Okay. I'm sorry. That's... I was going for the cheek.
Yeah, that's okay. Okay!
Well, nice catching up.
And best of luck with the application process. Here's my card.
I have your card.
I gave you my card? Yeah.
That's great. Then you have my card.
Oh, my God. Sorry.
It was there, you know? You just...
What are you going to do? Look, the reason that I'm...
Look, I'm an admissions officer, and you run a school, and I live with someone and I've had a really long day and I'm exhausted and this never happened, do you understand?
Portia! Look, I asked you here for a reason. And it wasn't to kiss you.
Please communicate with my associate, Ben, in the future.
Portia, wait. Wait. It's just... I think...
I think maybe Jeremiah's your son.
I think maybe he's your son.
Are you out of your fucking mind?
All right, you know what, let me rewind.
At Dartmouth, I was friends with Shelley.
I don't know what you're talking about. And you need to leave. Now.
Jesus! She said leave her alone!
What the hell! Mom, put the gun down!
No means no, asshole!
I have got this under control! Go inside.
You don't have shit under control, Portia. You never have.
Screw you, Mom! I do so have my life under control!
You could have been somebody! God damn it.
You could have been a trailblazer.
Right, like you? Holed up here like some crazy old witch?
You know what? I'm just going to get into my car, very slowly, and let you two chat.
Portia, I'll call you?
Well, you're not very good at returning e-mails.
You all right?
Fine. Watch where you're waving that thing.
Your breasts are sliding off.
Just back from a boring recruitment trip. Uneventful.
There she is!
So, have you found the finest young minds in the nation for us?
Of course she has, she's our golden retriever!
I love this. I love this bean salad.
Just beans and vinaigrette. So simple, but it just works.
Oh, hello, Helen. So glad you could make it after all.
And I can guarantee, personally, that next year, all your Virginia Woolf seminars will be filled with superhumans.
I'll never really understand your admissions system in America.
'Cause we just do tests.
We don't really care about your childhood or your recent conversion to Buddhism.
Gray matter, that's what counts.
Helen, would you mind putting the bread on the table?
Thank you so much.
I want you to know that this, us, this life, it's everything that I've always wanted.
Helen, back so soon. Could you put the salad on?
What's she got against bean salad?
Portia, we need to talk. I can't do this any more. I'm sorry.
Oh, God. I hate these lunches, too.
No. This. Us.
Is that Helen? That's weird.
Portia, I'm having twins.
What are you talking about? Twins.
Twins, I'm having twins.
Mark, you're talking like a crazy person.
Helen is having twins. My twins. I'm leaving you.
I'm sorry. You had sex with that woman?
You had unprotected sex with that vile Virginia Woolf scholar?
There's no need to make a scene. I am sorry.
You don't deserve this, you don't.
You're loyal and a good companion, and...
Stop it with the dog stuff!
Clean. What? I have to go. Now.
No, no, you have to stay.
We have guests. And we are a family unit.
You didn't want a family.
Neither did you!
No, that's true. I really don't.
I can't stand babies. They're repulsive.
Oh, God, she's backing out now.
Oh, that's the chicken.
Would you mind terribly taking it out? Goodbye.
I kissed someone! Almost on purpose!
Mark had an emergency.
A student was having a breakdown about Robert Frost.
Two roads diverging in a wood, and which to take.
So, who likes breasts?
Mark loves breasts. The more the merrier!
In fact, why don't I just put this aside for him for when he gets home.
So, who likes legs? Well, Mark likes legs.
Who likes assholes? I guess that's me.
Virginia Woolf was a twat.
No Gertrude Stein.
I'll have a breast, please.
Oh, God, damn it. Damn it.
This is your mother?
I saw her lecture on Frida Kahlo in 1977.
She was extremely hot.
Is she well? Your mother?
Yeah, she's fine. Good.
Well, thank you for the party. It was very pleasant.
Everyone is now leaving.
Okay. I shall close this door behind?
Yes. I'll be right out.
Get to work.
I will always be there for you.
Nothing will ever change that.
Top of the morning, Clarence!
If you want to take a couple of personal days...
Why would I?
About Mark, I mean. Yes.
And that Woolf woman.
I'm very sorry about the timing of this.
But I want you to know, I am here for you 1,000%.
This is my life. It's what I'm good at.
And, please, rest assured, Clarence, that nothing will affect my work.
Well, that's great. You just carry on.
And that was the famous Blair Arch.
Here comes one of our illustrious admissions officers.
Clearly a very busy time for you all.
Any words of wisdom for hopefully future Princetonians?
Words of wisdom?
Just get those applications in, and remember to be yourself, 'cause who else could you be, that's who you're stuck with.
Okay, got the idea. Let's keep moving.
Any budding astrophysicists in the crowd?
'Cause I've got a treat for you next.
I'm Jeremiah, from Quest. Hi. You remember me?
Yes, I remember you.
I remember you, too.
Turns out we had a chance to come down here today, to visit the campus.
What a surprise.
It's awesome. It's like, ancient!
I'm sorry, but what... What do you think that you're doing here?
Jeremiah wanted to see the place. And you and I should talk.
You are out of your mind.
Almost forgot to ask.
Um, remember when you said that I could spend the night with an undergrad?
Is that still possible?
Okay. Yes. That's possible.
Just catch up with the tour and meet me back at Admissions.
What are you doing? You're not allowed in here!
What happened the other night...
Nothing happened the other night.
Right, it was nothing, so don't let it get in the way of this.
This is Jeremiah's birth certificate.
I knew Shelley, your roommate at Dartmouth.
I had a car.
She borrowed it to pick you up after you had the baby.
Shelley told me you had the baby at 1:00 p.m. on Valentine's Day.
That stuck with me. I hate Valentine's Day.
It's a despicable holiday. It sucks.
Here's the crazy part.
When Jeremiah applied to Quest, I saw this and I put it together.
It says that he was born and given up for adoption.
Valentine's Day, 1995, at 1:00 p.m. at Blaine Hospital.
I know you didn't ask for this.
And I'm not trying to ruin your life.
But I care about this kid, and I think he could use a little more connection in his life.
I didn't tell him anything.
It's your decision. I'm just setting it up.
He has his parents. He has you, right? Nelson?
Yeah, his parents are great people.
But we're moving on.
Nelson and me.
Hey, maybe it was meant to be.
Nothing is meant to be.
And you don't just barrel into other people's lives like this.
This is bad form. This is bad form.
I am not a project.
I am not some village in need of a water system.
John Pressman. Quest School.
Oh, Clarence Hall, Dean of Admissions. Princeton.
It's quite an operation you have here.
Okay, well, Mr. Pressman was just leaving.
Right. Of course.
It was nice to meet you.
Hey, I heard about you guys dropping to number two.
Sorry. But number two is, you know... That's good, too.
Here's the information you wanted for your student, the undergrad he'll be spending the night with.
Thank you. And here is the information you'll need on that student.
Ben, do you mind escorting Mr. Pressman out?
And, Mr. Pressman, in the future, e-mail is the appropriate form of communication.
Yeah, e-mail. Will do.
All right. See ya.
You know, it's highly unusual, it's actually unheard of, for a school director to be back here.
I think we should hire a security guard to keep the crazies out, because it is getting out of control.
Yo, what's up?
I beg your pardon?
I'm looking for my roomie.
Can I help you?
Doing a great job.
So a zombie will move and talk as if it were awake and genuinely aware of its surroundings, but its inner light is off.
Right, and if it's logically possible for a creature to have a brain just like yours and no conscious experience, then consciousness is not literally identical to brain activity.
Hi, you are not a student.
What? You trying to crash or something here?
Yo, what's up?
Hi, everyone. I'm from Admissions.
And we like to come in and check on our overnight high school visitors.
So, Jeremiah, are you warm enough?
Do you have everything that you need?
Do you need a Princeton sweatshirt?
Or did you remember to bring your toothbrush?
I'm fine. Thanks.
Good. What is that?
It's diet soda.
Diet soda. Why diet?
I just like the taste better.
So do I. That's unbelievable.
Just diet soda, no...
Great. Good. Well, get back to your zombie talk.
Okay. Thank you.
Dude, what a cougar, huh?
You don't happen to actually have an extra toothbrush on you, do you?
On me? No. No. Why, you do need a toothbrush?
Soft bristles, right?
That's what kids, teenagers, your age are supposed to use, right?
Um, I think soft might be more for baby teeth.
I prefer to use just, like, a medium.
Yep, don't listen to me. You'd end up with a mouth full of cavities.
Hey, how about this rechargeable toothbrush?
That looks pretty cool.
Yeah, I don't think I need that, as much as I do appreciate Thomas the Tank Engine.
I'm an idiot.
You just pick what you need.
Well, I guess this is it.
Thanks. Don't mention it.
Are you all right?
I'm fine. I'm great. What are you doing here?
We're just up the street.
She said she's fine.
Have you been drinking, Portia?
A little bit, you know me, I'm a lightweight.
Where are your glasses?
Uh, I thought I'd give contacts a try.
Well, all right. Good to see you.
Yes. Yes it is.
Portia Nathan here. Susannah here.
Your mother. Mom.
Mark called. I know he never liked me, but he thought you might be in need of some comfort and guidance.
So, I think this is all a very good thing.
Getting left is a good thing? Really? I have to go.
Good. You're angry. You need to express that.
Talk to me. I'm here for you, sweetie.
Well, I actually feel really sad and...
And that is exactly why I knew that night on the train 37 years ago, the man reading I'm OK, You're OK...
No, please, not the train story.
I knew I needed his sperm, but I did not need him.
Hey, watch yourself, asshole!
I wanted a child, but not some moody relationship.
Sex with a stranger on the New Jersey Transit was the answer to my problems.
It's not healthy to need other people too much.
And now you need to go out and fall in love with yourself.
Well, I'm gonna go do that.
You go, girl.
Yup. Gonna go buy a train ticket right now.
John, Portia again. This is my eighth, no, ninth message.
Please call me back.
It's very important that you not tell Jeremiah a thing about the thing, the thing that we were talking about.
Not a word. Call me back.
They hooked it up 'cause they didn't have a shield on the horse.
But I wear it like a medal
'cause it tells the world where I belong, deep down in the working class.
Hey, Princeton, what are you doing?
Just observing the school so that I can better evaluate applicants.
Cool. I'm cutting class.
Cutting class is never a good idea.
I hate geography class. I hate maps.
You hate maps? Why?
Because you never know where you'll end up on them.
Not with my dad.
Well, I'm sure your dad has excellent reasons for leading a rootless and impulsive life.
I thought you loved traveling.
I'm sick of traveling. I love playing bridge.
Besides, do they even play bridge in Ecuador?
No idea. How long have you been at Princeton?
Sixteen years. But...
Wow. You totally rock!
Yeah? Thanks. Why is that?
Because you're, like, totally predictable.
So, can you tell me where I could find your dad?
I've been trying to reach you. I left you a million messages!
Yeah, well, sorry, I'm a little busy.
What are you doing to that cow?
Cow's in labor. I'd shake your hand, but I...
Look, I never told a soul...
Stay back. This cow doesn't know you.
Actually, I think we met the last time I was here.
Do you even know whether Jeremiah wants to meet his birth mother?
He wrote an essay last year entitled, "Nature versus Nurture", "I wonder who my birth parents are."
Portia, the wise! Nelson told me you were here.
I just wanted to thank you so much.
I had the best night of my life.
There's nothing I want more in life than to go to Princeton. Nothing.
Is something wrong with that cow?
Where's the goddamn vet! Ugh!
Well, I'm gonna find my own way out.
Shit! This isn't right. This isn't how it looks on the Internet!
Okay, bye now. Best of luck with all that.
Come back. Grab her head. Calm her down.
You said stay back.
I changed my mind!
She looks so mad.
Well, she's probably protecting her young.
Hey there, little mama.
It's all gonna be okay. Just focus on your breath.
Your terrible, terrible breath.
Think how lucky you are not to be on a beef ranch right now.
I'm sorry. That was inappropriate.
Where's the bull that did this to you?
He's probably out partying with his friends.
She's clamping again. Jeremiah, get back here, please. Fast!
You're not alone. You're not alone, okay, mama?
We're here with you. You can do this.
'Cause it happens either way. It happens either way.
All right, it's coming. Portia, get back here now.
Grab a hoof. Grab a hoof. All right. On the count of three.
Two. Three. Pull!
Did you not see my "Do not disturb" sign?
Yeah, I saw it, but you're not the only one who reeks of cow placenta.
Why do you have "Do not disturb" signs with you?
Oh, I don't know. Maybe for times like these?
Here, try this soap.
Look, he's a great kid, and you're clearly a great, mildly compulsive, woman.
Take the leap!
I'm sorry, who's mildly compulsive?
Why do you run around fixing everyone else's life?
What about yours?
My life is fine, thank you very much. It's frigging great.
Ah, God, the water just turned to ice!
Oh, oops, sorry.
Yeah, it's solar powered. Bit finicky.
Jeremiah has to get his application in pronto.
Work on his resume.
A unique talent that demonstrates passion and commitment would be good.
He has got to get going on his essay.
And then you have to prepare him for an alumni interview.
You may have built schools in third world countries, and cleaned contaminated water from villages, but you have never tried to get a kid into Princeton.
Neither have you. I am not trying!
I'm an admissions officer. I am just helping you try.
As I would with any outstanding student who may have been overlooked.
There's nothing improper going on here.
I'm going to exit the shower stall now.
I'm going to remain in the shower stall for approximately 30 seconds.
Hey. Yes? How can I help you?
You think he has a shot?
Send me his transcripts.
Nelson, take a corner kick.
What was that? Do it again.
I'm not good at corner kicks.
Horse shit! Put your heart into it!
Hey, Portia, how you doing?
This is, without a doubt, the worst transcript I have ever seen!
D's and F's in 9th, 10th and 11th grade.
Suspensions, detentions, a Special Ed class?
What the hell were you thinking?
Did you read the rest of it?
Why, am I missing a police record?
Come on, man. Quit half-assing it, huh?
You play like that, those Ecuadorian kids are gonna eat you up!
All right. Jeremiah got the top score on eight Advanced Placement tests without ever taking the Advanced Placement courses.
And his SATs are almost perfect.
God, did he...
I insisted he take those tests.
He's brilliant. He's the most brilliant student I've come across.
Regardless, kids like Jeremiah don't get into Princeton.
He is gonna be up against kids that have resumes 15-feet long.
So? Those kids are so burnt out already, all they want to do is get stoned and play Frisbee for the rest of their lives.
Princeton would be damn lucky to have Jeremiah.
Hey, f煤tbol, f煤tbol. It's a world sport, all right.
Put some heart into it!
Did you get that other thing I sent you? In the box.
Look, he wants this. He really wants this.
And I think he would thrive there. I can see it.
Look, I can't do anything that could get me into trouble.
But since you're new to the process, as a professional courtesy, I can send you books, resources, everything that one might need. Okay?
What the hell was that?
I put my heart into it. F煤tbol.
I'll give you 10 bucks if you can do it again.
They grow up so damn fast, don't they?
Which one is yours?
With a megaphone.
Yeah. Right? Exactly.
Okay, okay, I heard you. I heard you.
Let me. It takes a village.
Get your hands off my baby!
No, I was just helping. What are you doing?
Everybody needs a little help.
I'm helping you.
Come on. Come on.
I'm not... I'm not a creep.
When I was eight years old, I realized my teachers were not going to be able to teach me.
So I became an autodidact.
I read everything.
I read biographies, mainly because I didn't know how other people lived their lives.
I learned several years ago that I was adopted, that I was supposed to be the son that my parents tried so hard to have on their own.
I think my voracious reading came from a deep longing for something that was missing.
I was searching for someone.
For my story.
To not feel so alone.
I knew you were taking this all rather hard, but I thought by now you'd be back on your feet.
It kills me.
It really kills me. You'll get through this.
I know it seems impossible, but you will.
No, this has nothing to do with you.
It's okay. It's okay. I understand.
Oh, Christ! I have to go. Hang on in there!
Well, that's so funny.
Il Forno is one of my favorite restaurants, too.
That's amazing. I know.
Portia, sweetie, you feeling all right?
Just terrific. Thanks. Oh, good.
Then I think there was an evaluation card that was placed on the wrong file.
A Jeremiah Balakian.
You didn't mean to put "High Consider," did you?
Um, let me see.
No, that's right.
But he has D's and F's and suspensions.
But did you notice that he also got fives on all eight AP exams without ever taking any AP courses?
Yes. I'm going to investigate that. That's impossible.
No, apparently not, if the child in question is a unique, special child.
This isn't a child. It's an applicant.
He's got no extracurriculars at all.
The counselor at his old high school said he was shocked Jeremiah was even applying to college.
He's an autodidact.
He's an advanced reader from the age of eight.
Leonardo da Vinci was an autodidact. So was Benjamin Franklin.
Oh, did this Balakian kid discover electricity or paint the Mona Lisa?
I must have missed that in his file.
He's a great kid.
Portia, dear, take a deep breath.
I'm sorry. No, I'm sorry.
I forgot you're in a very fragile state.
Maybe you'd like to step outside and see how fragile I am.
Only kidding! Only kidding.
Just a little levity to enhance the teamwork.
Thank you for your thoughts, Corinne.
He's never getting in. Never.
Calm down. There's something great I want to show you.
It turns out Jeremiah was a state champion in...
You know what? It's better if you see it for yourself.
He's gonna be doing it at Nelson's birthday party.
Shows originality, intellectual passion. Everything the books talk about.
Oh, state champion! Thank God.
So, I'll send you the address to Nelson's birthday party.
It's at my parents' house.
I'll be there. Good.
Is she coming to my party? Mmm-hmm.
Why do you like her so much?
I don't know. She's weird.
She is indeed.
Doesn't matter anyway. Right?
Sure it matters.
But about this Spanish test.
This is your third "try harder" in a row.
Se帽ora Garcia says you have an aptitude for languages.
What if I don't?
What if I don't have an aptitude for languages?
What if I'm not a genius like Jeremiah?
I don't want you to be a genius, I'm not a genius, but I want you to be able to get by in the world.
Whatever. En espa帽ol.
Whatever! I have class.
Even Beckett emerged from Gogol's Overcoat.
Not to mention Pinter...
Professor Polokov. Yes.
Portia Nathan. Yes, the sad lady.
The sad lady? That's not really how I think of myself.
How is your mother?
So, I wonder, would you consider conducting some supplementary admissions interviews?
A scholar of your stature would carry a huge amount of weight with the committee.
In fact, there is one extremely unusual applicant who's shown a strong interest in literature and philosophy.
Why would I want to speak with a high school student?
Of course, perhaps we could make some sort of arrangement.
I can't believe you're pimping me.
I'm not pimping you. He's a fan of your writing.
And I need him to meet this applicant.
Besides, when's the last time you went to a party?
With racist jockey statues? Never.
Yeah, those are pretty weird.
Hey, Portia! Thanks for coming to my party!
Hi, Nelson, happy birthday!
Hey! I'm glad you could make it.
So, this is your parents' place?
Hmm. Yeah. Well, my mom's now.
My dad passed away a few months ago.
Oh, I'm sorry. No.
It's nice to see you again.
You're not packing heat by any chance, are you?
Should I be?
No, we're all friendlies.
So, what is this?
That is a fossil from the Jurassic era.
It's been in the same place for 150 million years.
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
Mom, I would like you to meet...
I'm Johnny's mother, Mrs. Pressman.
Are you Johnny's girlfriend?
Ah, no. No, we are friends. Just friendly acquaintances. Portia Nathan.
Of course. What am I thinking?
He can't love anything that's less than a 10-hour flight from JFK.
Maybe we don't have to go. Right, Grandma?
You're absolutely right, Nelson.
There's nothing wrong with staying in the same place for a while.
Ask Portia. She's been in the same job for 16 years!
Yeah. And it's a travesty, Nelson.
Portia was president of her high school class.
Mom. And she resigned in protest over funding for the girls' sports program.
She led a school-wide walkout.
And the relevance of all this is?
When you were nine months old, you could walk.
She actually walked.
I don't mean just stumble walking like an infant or a toddler.
She walked with absolute certainty.
One day I saw her tumble over her shoelaces, John, she did not cry, she didn't fall down, she sat down, carefully, tied her shoelaces in a double knot... got up and kept going.
At nine months old.
There are a lot of holes in that story.
You were fearless. You were born an Amazon.
That's amazing. I love it!
And what makes you think she needs your approval?
Okay, that's enough crazytown.
When Johnny got admitted to Harvard Law...
He decided to go and live in Outer Mongolia instead.
Outer Mongolia? You know what, Portia, I'm with you, enough crazytown.
Have another vat of gin there, Mom.
Ms. Nathan, Vladimir Polokov.
You are just as beautiful today as you were 30 years ago.
I just had a mastectomy.
I was just translated into Finnish.
May I get you some iced tea?
Or something stronger, perhaps?
Why not. I'll stroll with you.
I'd love to. It would be a pleasure.
It was a pleasure. Your lawn jockeys are just outstanding.
Aren't they fun?
And now, with a special performance for Nelson on his big day...
performing the act that won him honorable mention at the New Hampshire state championships, put your hands together, put your hands together, for Jeremiah Balakian!
I want to dedicate this performance to Nelson.
Happy birthday, pal.
Honorable mention? I thought you said he won.
He was robbed.
This is my other friend, Ren茅 Descartes.
Say, hello, Ren茅.
How are you, Ren茅?
I think, therefore I am.
Did you say you're pink, therefore you're ham?
Do you have any advice for a young man, Ren茅?
Whatever you do, don't put the horse before Descartes.
Hey, do you guys want to see Descartes philosophize backwards?
I think, therefore I am.
What was that?
Come on, that showed originality, depth.
Are you kidding me?
Here, from the Island of Misfit Toys, we bring you Jeremiah Balakian!
Are those birds?
Those are doves.
For the party?
No. You know, my mom has a dove room.
Uh, by the way, I know that wasn't a perfect showcase, but he can't pretend to be somebody he's not.
Yes, he can. You should try it sometimes.
It's how humans behave here on planet Earth!
I know how humans behave on planet Earth because I've actually lived a few places on planet Earth.
Wait! God. Here, help me.
Aren't you ready yet?
I'm lighting them as fast as I can!
Hurry up! Do you like the cake?
It's very patriotic!
Ow, how many frigging candles are on this cake?
Oh, fifty. You know, it was my mom's idea.
Polokov was looking at Jeremiah like he had two heads!
Well, that's his problem, isn't it?
Look, I want Jeremiah to go to Princeton, because he wants to go to Princeton, and I actually think he'd do great there, but if he doesn't get into Princeton, if he gets into another school, well, that's fine, too, because where you went to school, and what your background is, that is just a box, and I reject it.
I reject being put into a box, okay?
Hi. Hi, Mom.
How did it go? It was good.
Mr. and Mrs. Balakian? I'm Portia Nathan.
Oh. I want to say thank you so much for everything that you have done for this boy.
You're wonderful people.
Uh, she's from Princeton.
Well, you're welcome.
I love you.
What are you doing here?
I want to come live with you.
Why in God's name would you want to live with me?
Because you're a normal, boring adult.
I bet you'd take me to Chuck E. Cheese!
What makes you think I'm so boring?
You just are. It's good!
At your age, you're supposed to be boring!
I am the same age as your dad.
Tell him that!
- Hello. John, it's Portia. I have Nelson.
- You do? He's fine.
- He is? Yes, he's fine.
Nelson, you know how much I love this statue, right?
You rode a horse three days through.
Outer Mongolia in the pouring rain, living off of mare's milk to bring it back.
And I've dragged it place to place, across the world, ever since I was 22.
That is nothing, nothing compared to how much I love you!
Please don't scare me like that again.
Why? You do it all the time.
Hide out in cars?
I'll never run away from you.
And going across the world and helping people is not running away.
I know, but why can't we ever just do what I want?
Because you are a kid, I'm an adult, what I say in this house goes!
This parenthood thing.
Oh, it's a disaster.
So I hear.
I'm screwing it up.
Am I screwing it up?
You're asking me?
I don't know, it's just, Nelson and I have always traveled.
I wanted to give him the kind of life I didn't have as a kid.
I wanted to give him the opposite of what I had as a kid.
But, now, all of a sudden he's turning into my mother.
He plays bridge. He listens to Lite FM.
He asked for a blue blazer with gold buttons and anchors on them for Christmas.
Does your mom wear blue blazers?
No, that was my father.
How is it possible?
What am I doing wrong?
At least you're trying.
I mean, there's so many different kinds of parents.
There's no one best way to do it.
Or so I've gathered with my vast experience reading personal essays.
Speaking of which, I have 15 essays to get through tonight. So...
Well, thank you for bringing him back.
So, you really are leaving, aren't you?
Um, in a month and a half.
Let's just not think for a while.
Are you going to be my mom?
I'm just messing with you.
Right. Go back to sleep.
Guess you're not so boring after all.
Good morning. Hi.
Did you stay over?
Too long of a drive back to campus?
I slept on the sofa. Ah.
So did your mother.
We did not make it all the way to the bedroom.
I didn't need to know that.
Unique, I would say.
Oh, really, that's enough information.
The boy. Jeremiah.
Oh. The ventriloquism, weird. I liked it.
I will write a recommendation.
Thank you, sad lady!
What are you doing here?
I wanted to tell you something.
I know, you slept with that guy, didn't you?
Then we both got lucky.
Yeah. He's leaving.
It's okay. It's good.
It is good. You don't need any commitments right now. It's perfect.
Honey, I'm exhausted.
That old Russian guy, uh, gave me a workout.
Just take a nap. Just for a bit.
Actually, I gotta hit the road.
Good luck with the fencing finals, Sebastian.
It's a pleasure to meet you.
Thank you so much.
Hi there! Hi.
This is Jeremiah Balakian.
Good to meet you. Are you Mr. Balakian?
No, his parents couldn't make it, I'm his teacher.
Yeah, you look like a teacher.
You might want to tuck that in, son.
So, Jeremiah, why don't you come in my torture chamber, we'll have a chat and you can tell me why you want to go to Princeton.
I rowed crew, class of '81, a lot's changed since then!
Hey! This kid, he's terrific.
No, I mean, he's authentic.
He doesn't want to just go to Princeton to meet future business partners.
He loves learning for the sake of learning.
That's what it's about, isn't it?
Why don't you go get yourself a cup of coffee?
Yeah. Great. Thanks.
Excuse me? Hmm.
I just called you a prick. I'm sorry.
Don't take it out on him. That's my own thing.
That's not very nice.
So, Jeremiah, tell me about yourself.
Uh, myself, as in... You mean in relation to my soul?
Or do you mean myself, like, as a unified person, like, the source of consciousness, or do you mean myself, like... Like as a narrative center of gravity?
How bad was it?
I'm not supposed to discuss alumni recommendations.
It was that bad?
Well, can we get him a second alumni interview?
I'm afraid not.
Tomorrow, the committee meetings begin, and...
Look, I gotta go home and get some sleep.
It's the last chance I'm gonna have for three weeks.
Your meetings last three weeks?
I have to go. Right.
I have spoken to the Judo Association, and they have no record of his national championship.
Thank you. Goodbye.
I just want to say thank you.
I've tried to put on a brave front about...
I can't even say his name.
Mark. Yes, him.
And honestly, you're the only person who's really been so sensitive to what I'm going through, and I appreciate it so much.
Men can be such pigs.
People are all pigs.
Uh, okay, yes. I'm with you on that.
Oh! Maybe we can declare a truce, because we women have to stick together in this man-eat-woman, dog-eat-bitch world.
You are so right.
Friends, today, we begin the process of choosing the most remarkable freshman class in Princeton history.
Here is the order of territories chosen randomly.
We begin with the West.
Ladies and gentlemen.
Corinne, are you ready?
Class rank two of 450, magnet school in a suburb of San Diego.
Her family emigrated from Russia 10 years ago.
She's captain of the cross-country team, sports editor of the school paper.
Math, 760. Critical Reading, 710. Writing, 740.
But the recs aren't special. They admire her, but they don't love her.
Show of hands for acceptance.
Holy shit. That's the kid that doesn't get in?
Sylvia Hadlock. Applying from Los Angeles, but she's originally from our beautiful state of New Jersey.
Wallace Thompson. 2100 combined SAT, class treasurer, volunteers for...
Her dream is to be a prosecutor, then serve on the Supreme Court.
Alice's mother was murdered. The murderer got off on a technicality.
Alice would like to retry him and put him away for life, though she would prefer the death penalty.
2220 combined SAT. 4.2 GPA.
I'm a little concerned about a revenge fantasy fuelling her academics.
Uh, Portia, you were second reader. I see you put "Maybe."
I might have underestimated her passion upon first reading, as we all sometimes do.
I think this girl's self-knowledge is impressive.
She's an excellent candidate.
Dashiel Weld Broward, fourth-generation legacy.
Captain of his sailing club.
He led them to victory three years in a row.
Uh, 660, 710, 600.
He's just one of those kids that doesn't test well.
But, oh, can he read the wind.
So what you're saying is that an unusual candidate's strengths in some areas really do outweigh major, and I mean major, weakness elsewhere.
Let's vote then. For acceptance?
Aput Kunayak from Nome, Alaska.
Managed to take five AP classes while working on his father's reindeer farm and starting and running a shelter for homeless sled dogs.
Had suffered from ADD, but overcame it to become a leader in his high school.
He'd be the first in his family to attend college.
Now, Ben, as you know, we have room for very few of these iffy students.
But then again, we have to make room for the exceptional, right?
Are you gonna give me the file?
At last, we come to the end, the Northeast.
Portia, please begin.
Richard Guinness, Rye Country Day School, state champion in the 138-pound wrestling class, played Rolfe in the school production of The Sound of Music.
Chess club, makes an excellent souffl茅.
Member of the team, but not a leader.
Backbone of the woodwinds section was the highest praise he got.
He is the kind of student you could always call upon to help with Martin Luther King Day activities.
That's 28 denies in a row.
Come on, Portia, make us fall in love.
Okay, let's see.
Jeremiah is our first applicant from Quest, a new school in New Hampshire.
Developmental, but academically rigorous.
Jeremiah is an only child.
Parents both work at a Stop-N-Go.
Neither of them attended college.
The first three years of his high school life were a disaster.
If you're wondering why you are even listening to this, Jeremiah is also a self-described autodidact since the age of eight.
He is very well-read.
In fact, he is the most well-read person I have met.
And why? For his resume? To impress someone?
For the sake of learning, his passion for knowledge.
He had no plans to attend college until this past fall when he switched to Quest and came into contact with teachers who recognized his potential.
Last spring, he took the SATs and eight AP tests.
Wait, so he took AP classes?
No AP classes, no SAT prep courses.
But he got 5's on all eight APs, and 790, 780 and 790 on the SATs.
I'm sorry, what did you say?
Amazing! It's amazing. Exactly.
Do you think he can handle an intense academic community?
Thank you. That's a great question.
Thank you. You're welcome.
The director of his new school says he is
"a true original whose abilities would lift"
"the level of discourse in any class he enrolled in."
You seem passionate about him.
So what was his GPA, I mean, before Quest?
He was a lost kid, and then he was found.
So, Corinne, you were second reader, I see you wrote "Deny."
Any second thoughts?
Well, he is like no other applicant we have ever considered.
His alumni interview was not so great.
That guy sounded like a jerk.
And he has a positive recommendation from no less of a scholar than Vladimir Polokov.
Okay, maybe from our perspective, he could have done more, made himself more of a resume and a paper trail, but he took himself from nowhere to where he is today.
He educated himself, purely by instinct, not because he wants to put away his mother's killer.
He was as isolated as someone in Nome, Alaska.
He was alone.
He was completely alone.
You know, and maybe if his parents had been rich, he would have been exposed to more.
We have to make room for these kids.
We have to make room for kids like these.
Clarence, you told us at the beginning of the year to find that undiscovered gem.
I found him.
Well, let's vote.
All in favor of admission?
He also received an honorable mention at the state finals of ventriloquism.
We are in the middle of a vote.
I'm sorry, Portia. I just think he's got a little too much to overcome.
I mean, the kid was in Special Ed.
I know sometimes we subconsciously identify with applicants who remind us of ourselves, but, honey, no.
Okay, then. Deny.
Wait! Polokov called him inspirational!
Portia, please, sit down.
It's too risky.
He's just not Princeton material.
I'm actually surprised that you thought he was.
Tanisha Jones, Brearley School, Manhattan.
GPA 4.3, speaks semi-fluent Mandarin.
Two, three, four.
Hey. This is Bob Barrow from Hotchkiss.
I wanted to talk to you about one of our applicants.
All decisions have been made.
Yes, but I wanted you to know that.
Jesse Bolton is going to Yale.
Definitely. He was just in here.
Even though he's a legacy, he is definitely going to Yale.
Huh. So, look, if you accepted him, maybe that place can go to another of our students.
Instead of Jesse just rejecting Princeton.
Thank you for your call, but all decisions are absolutely final.
No changes can be made.
Uh, yes, but I...
I'm sorry you feel that way.
No, there isn't an appeals process.
How wonderful Elissa got so many acceptances.
Harvard and Yale, too?
Listen, I'd love to talk to you about the financial aid package we could offer.
No, seriously. I'm so happy, too.
No, you rock. No.
Yes, I know he is a legacy. And I certainly understand why you would never want to give another penny to this university ever again.
Wow. That is a new one.
Hey, I have somebody here who wants to talk to you.
I got in.
Yes, I know.
This is the best day of my life.
Best day of your life, huh? Well, that's good.
Good. That's... I'm very happy.
Look, we're having a school dance here tonight.
I think you should come and celebrate.
Oh, there you are. Clarence wants to see you.
Yes, thank you. I've been expecting that.
I have to go. I'll call you later.
Have a seat, please.
So, I had a call.
From Richard Bolton, class of '81.
Father of Jesse Bolton.
Do you recall Jesse Bolton, budding journalist, writes for The Boston Globe?
Is this coming back? Mmm-hmm.
I remember Jesse Bolton. We loved Jesse Bolton.
We accepted Jesse Bolton.
So I asked for the admit list.
Looked for Bolton, Jesse. No Bolton, Jesse.
But I did find Balakian, Jeremiah.
We sent Mr. Balakian an offer of admission, which he accepted.
The only thing is, I don't remember making him an offer of admission.
But I do remember your plea that we do so.
You have exposed this office and the university to a completely undeserved scandal.
If word of this were ever to get out, the damage would be irreparable.
Well, I won't tell anyone.
That's right. You won't.
What you will do is submit your resignation and take this week to clear up your affairs, and then I don't ever want to see you in this building again.
He's going to Yale.
The guidance counselor called me. We never had a shot at him.
Well, that's not the point.
I assume you'll be standing by the offer.
I don't see how we can rescind it without the whole thing blowing up in our faces.
The whole system would be questioned.
We wouldn't want that to happen.
Oh, hi. Glad you're here.
I was just coming down to the dance.
Um, you okay? Yeah. Why?
You just... You seem kind of intense.
I'm okay. Are you okay?
Yeah, I'm great!
I'm supposed to be chaperoning this dance.
You're doing a great job.
You can do this.
You having fun?
This is the best day of my life.
You have no idea how happy that makes me feel.
I want so much for you to be happy, and for you to have all the things that you want in life.
You know how when you're swinging on a rope swing across a stream and you're afraid to jump in, and then you just do?
No. I'm kind of afraid of heights.
You and I have so much in common, and it's not as odd as it seems.
Jeremiah, there's something I want to tell you, and it's going to come as quite a shock.
I am your mother.
Your birth mother.
I've been trying to figure out the best time to tell you.
And I know. I was speechless, too.
No, it's not that. Uh.
It's just, you're not my birth mother.
Yes. I am. And I know this is very sudden and...
My birth mother is named Jeanie Shredder.
And she's a hairdresser from Keene.
And I met her and my half-sisters a couple of months ago.
I put my name in at the adoption agency, and they contacted me.
No, no, Jeremiah.
You were born on Valentine's Day at 1:00 p.m. at Blaine General to me.
No, I was born at 11:00 p.m.
They said my mom tried like hell to hold off till the last hour so I wouldn't have some lame Valentine's Day birthday.
It's a copy. See?
That's an 11 with one of the ones missing.
It's faded. You see?
I never told anybody, because I didn't want my parents to find out.
I was worried that it would hurt their feelings.
And I don't want to hurt them 'cause they're my parents.
This whole time, you thought you were my mother?
Why didn't you tell me?
I didn't want anything to get in the way of you getting into Princeton.
I'd have to recuse myself and...
So everything you did was because you thought I was your son?
No. I completely believe in you!
I actually do.
But you were lying to me the whole time.
I don't understand.
I can't tell what's real.
I don't get it.
How'd it go?
11:00 p.m., not 1:00 p.m. What?
Stay out of my life! Or what's left of it!
Jeanie Shredder. A hairdresser!
His mother is a hairdresser!
What? No. No, I read the birth certificate.
A copy! A faded copy.
Eleven! That is supposed to be an 11!
None of this was true. This is all a stupid dream.
This is all in your head! And I just jumped in like a complete idiot.
I can fix this, we'll contact adoption services.
No! Do not fix anything! I don't want to ever see you again.
Go be a citizen of the planet. I am so glad that you are going to Ecuador!
Except for one thing. What?
I feel sorry for the Ecuadorians!
Hi, come on in, you can help me grind sausage.
I've got something to say, Susannah.
Having sex on a train with a stranger to get pregnant, really not so great. You didn't even ask his name.
So I will never know who my father is.
Maybe he's in Paris. Maybe he's in Hoboken.
Maybe he's President. Obviously not that.
But I'll never know.
Because you forgot one important thing on your way to self-empowerment.
Why didn't you ask his name?
Why don't you just shut up?
No, you shut up.
I got pregnant and I had a kid back in college and I gave him up for adoption.
I wasn't in the Netherlands, I was living above an auto repair shop.
Hiding from you.
'Cause I can't stand you.
And that's it. That's all I have to say.
Except, get some goddamn dog food!
Wait, Portia! Portia! Portia, don't leave. Don't leave.
Portia, wait, wait.
I didn't ask the name of the man on the train because,
actually, I didn't have a grand plan, I made all that up.
It was all an accident.
A happy accident. Because it led to you. Baby, it led to you.
I wished so many times that I could have told you his name.
It's one of the disappointments of my life.
And I'm so sorry.
Please, come back in.
Mom, I have to go.
Ah, my car!
What happened? Are you okay?
It's a slight fracture. Fender bender.
It was dumb.
I'm sorry. I mean about everything.
I was stupid and selfish.
A selfish asshole. And I just wanted to come here and tell you that I'm sorry.
Wait, um, how's Nelson?
Good. He's good.
How's his Spanish?
Is he ready for Ecuador?
We're not going to Ecuador.
You're not? No, I passed on that job.
Nelson wanted to stay put, and, you know, I finally realized that I want him to be happy.
So this decision right now, I'm gonna let him make it.
Nelson really likes you.
Nelson likes me because I'm so boring.
You're not boring. I'm pretty boring.
You're not boring.
I think you're exquisite.
You wanna go out sometime?
I mean with me.
Good, I thought it was important to acknowledge that it's maybe...
It's good to clarify. I think so.
So, tell me about yourself.
I worked in college admissions for 16 years.
I used to spend my days passing judgment on young people who were way more together than I was at their age.
I'm figuring out what I want to do next.
I've been living at my mom's place for the last two months.
I thought that would drive me insane, but actually we're gonna be throwing a graduation party for a kid who I thought was my son.
He's a great kid.
I killed my bonsai tree by over trimming it.
I got pregnant in college.
And my boyfriend had already dumped me for someone else.
I didn't realize until I was very far along.
And I didn't think I could be a mother. Ever.
Portia, did you mean it when you said I could do this?
Yes, I meant it.
You're gonna do great there.
My boy, if you are truly outstanding, you will probably be kicked out of there after one term.
Cut it out, Vlad. Excuse me.
Don't listen to him. Have you decided what your major is?
Not philosophy, women's studies.
You know, that's enough philosophy.
And if your biological son chooses to contact you? How would you feel?
I would feel nervous, but lucky.
I would feel lucky.
I would just be grateful to get to know him.
I over watered it, too, the bonsai, I just drowned it.
It's okay. Okay.
I can't promise anything.
But we'll contact you if there's any news.
It's a thin envelope.
That doesn't mean anything.
It says he's not ready to meet me at this time.
Well, then, you're on the wait list.
That's not so bad.
No, it's not.
Hey, Portia, everything okay?
What's the secret to getting in?