The Way We Weren't
When Homer and Bart fight over the use of a beer bottle Milhouse wants to use, it lands them in the Simpson family court, which is held in the living room with Lisa presiding as judge. Bart dares Homer to tell if he ever kissed a girl as a ten-year-old, but when Marge says that Homer's first kiss was with her in high school, Homer confesses that it was not his first kiss. Homer recalls that when he was 10, he went to a camp for underprivileged boys, Camp See-A-Tree, where Homer met Lenny, Carl, and as a counselor, Moe (although in reality Moe's parents had just abandoned him at the camp). It turned out during the evenings the summer camp was more like a prison as they had to work as servants in the kitchen at a girls' camp Camp Land-A-Man across the lake, because due to parents' lawsuits, the girls' camp could not afford dishwashers. Homer found a retainer and returned it to the girl who lost it, though he could not see her (they were separated by the kitchen wall). She asked Homer to see her later that night. He did so, even though due to an accident with a switchblade he was wearing an eye patch. Homer tells Bart and Lisa that she was the prettiest girl he had ever met until he later met their mother. However, Marge surprises everyone by admitting that she was that girl Homer met and that if she had known that Homer was the boy she would have never married him. Marge gives her side of the story, saying that she was with Patty and Selma, Helen Lovejoy, Luann Van Houten and Cookie Kwan at their camp, "Camp Land-A-Man". She fell in love with the boy who returned her retainer, but the other girls joked at what his name could be, settling coincidentally with "Big Ugly Homer," prompting Homer to give her a false name "Elvis Jagger Abdul-Jabbar".
To prepare for the date, Marge ironed her hair to make it straight, but burned it brown by accident, which she explains was why Homer did not recognize her in high school. She met Homer, and after a long awkward moment of self-consciousness for both, they finally kissed, leading each to dream of being in an imaginary paradise (both equally colorful, though Marge's paradise is a high fantasy fairy tale while Homer's is a darkly comedic candy land where Homer devours all living things that he sees ahead). They agreed that the following night they would meet again, but Homer did not come for Marge, who waited the entire night and left in the morning deeply saddened. Marge mentions that because of boy Homer she could not trust another boy for years. Homer then gives his side of the story explaining why he did not show up. He claims that right after the date, during which he had given Marge a heart-shaped rock he had found, he was so dazed with bliss that he accidentally fell off a cliff into the lake and drifted to a fat camp, "Camp Flab-Away", which counted Mayor Quimby, Chief Wiggum and Comic Book Guy as its participants. He is caught by the Camp Instructor (who does not distinguish between boys who drift into the camp and actual participants).
While Homer was trapped at the camp, a devastated Marge decided to leave the camp and threw the rock that he had given her away, breaking it in two. Homer managed to escape the fat camp and make his way to Marge's camp, but Marge had left only seconds before he arrived, leaving Homer to be sexually harassed by Patty and Selma. Despite knowing the truth, Marge gets depressed over what happened thirty years ago and thinks that Homer did not care for her. However, Homer proves that he really did care about her for years after the date by showing her a piece of the broken rock that he had found. Pleasantly surprised, Marge reveals that she had kept the other piece (albeit for the very different reason of reminding her of the cruel things men can do) and forgets about the past. The two then put the rock together to form a heart and kiss until the light fades.
The episode title refers to the 1973 film The Way We Were. Similarly, the twelfth episode of Season 2 was titled "The Way We Was". The camps See-A-Tree and Land-A-Man are an apparent homage to the 1960s sitcom Camp Runamuck which focused on a camp for unprivileged kids and another quite different camp for girls. When Homer needs to cross the river to meet Marge for their date, Homer looks between the water and a nearby rowboat, and states "Hmmm... It's row versus wade... and it's my right to choose."
Near the end when Homer is rummaging through his memory box, he finds a letter from his "old pen pal". Then he says: "Someday, I'll write you back, Osama". When Homer shows Marge his half of the heart, he says he put it next to his IBM stock—ing. The Sea Captain sings a verse from the 1958 Kingston Trio song "Tom Dooley". It also contains a hit song by The Turtles entitled "Happy Together" which later appears in The Simpsons Movie. In her flashback, Marge tells Homer during their date that she likes Parliament, but not Funkadelic, a reference to the fact that they were both fronted by funk musician George Clinton. The scene which depicts Homer and his friends escaping by bicycle from a landing jet plane is a loose reference to a similar situation involving teenage Art Zuke during the events of the Gimli Glider incident in 1983.
This episode was nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Animated Program (for programming less than one hour) selection.
This episode was watched by 6.2 million people in its original airing, making it the least-watched episode of the first 15 seasons.
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