Modern Love – S02E01 – On a Serpentine Road, With the Top Down [Transcript]

A woman's only remaining connection to her late husband is her vintage car but now, 30-years later, she's confronted with the difficult choice of selling it – and saying goodbye to her old love forever.
Modern Love - S02E01 - On a Serpentine Road, With the Top Down

Original release date: August 13, 2021

“Driving, with the top down, I’m reminded that I too can shift gears, face risk, handle inconvenience — and survive tragedy. My partner, eyes misting, says: ‘You love that car. And your husband was an extraordinary man.”‘

* * *

♪ We face the music together ♪

♪ And throw our hats in the ring ♪

♪ Facing all kinds of weather ♪

♪ And not afraid of anything ♪

♪ Hey ♪

♪ When the sun comes up, we’ll be on our way ♪

♪ And we don’t care where we land ♪

♪ And the waves are high, but we won’t turn round ♪

♪ ‘Cause your hand is in my hand ♪

♪ And, oh-oh ♪

♪ You make me feel invincible ♪

♪ ‘Cause it’s you and me ♪

♪ Through the wind and hail ♪

♪ Setting sail into the world ♪

[♪ Elvis Costello: “Everyday I Write The Book”]

♪ Ooh, ooh… ♪


[baby crying]

Mr. Hughes, will you get up on the table for me?

No, no.

Would you do it for a lolly?

Good. Hold that very gently.


There you go.


♪ Don’t tell me you don’t know what love is… ♪

How’s John?

He’s grand, thanks. Yeah.

Oh. Spiked.

Ooh. [laughs]

Well, only joking.

[phone beeps]


[receptionist] Dr. Curran, I have a mom on the phone with a four-year-old with a temperature.

I know it’s late. I said I’d check, just in case.

Well, why me?

You’re the only one still here.

I could put it off till the morning.

I’m sure it’s not serious. It’s not that high.

Well, how high is it?

Hold on.


♪ Every day I write the book… ♪

Send her in.

[Stephanie] Here’s a script for antibiotics, just for the peace of mind for the weekend.

Only use them if you can’t keep his temperature down with paracetamol, okay?


And I’m around. Just call me if you’re worried.

You have my home number. Goodbye, little chicken.

Night, Lorraine.

Good night, Dr. Curran.


♪ But you were up to your old tricks ♪

♪ In chapters four, five and six… ♪

[ignition sputtering]

Oh. Oh, no. Come on, girl.

Not now. Please.


Fuck my life.

We need to stop seeing each other like this.

I can’t stop calling you.

And I can’t stop picking up.

I’ve got you on speed dial.

Well, it serves you right for owning a 30-year-old sports car and only driving it when it tickles your fancy.

These cars want to be driven, Dr. Curran.

Well, I only take it out when the weather’s nice.

I mean, the roof leaks.

Pull the bonnet.

How’s your mom, Jerry?

Oh, you know. Same old.

The new place is nice for her.


Send her my best.

Tell her I’ll drop by this weekend to see her.

Your visits mean a lot to her.

I like seeing her.

So what do you think?


I hate to break it to you, Doctor. Your car is dying.

No. She just needs some TLC.

She’s 40 years old. You know, she’s younger than me.


Yeah, in human years, maybe, but in car years, she’s too young to be truly classic, and she’s too old to be practical.

She’s just having a midlife crisis.

I’m gonna give her some Xanax.

So, unfortunately, this car needs to make its final journey to the scrap heap.


You can really bring these things back to life.

Yeah, and go completely broke in the meantime.

You know, the best two days you have with a vintage car are the day you buy it

and the day you sell it.

Everything in between is just a heartache.

You need to give up on her, Doctor.

She’s not one of your patients.

Oh, let me see if I have another fan belt.

[♪ The Doors: “Peace Frog”]

[engine revving]

♪ There’s blood in the streets, it’s up to my ankles ♪

♪ There’s blood in the streets, it’s up to my knees ♪

Oh, it feels so good out on the road…

[continues indistinctly]

♪ Blood in the street, the town of Chicago ♪

That’s the truth. [continues indistinctly]

♪ Blood on the rise, it’s following me ♪

♪ Just about the break of day ♪


No, that’s not true…

♪ She came in ♪


♪ And she drove away ♪

I do.

♪ Sunlight in her hair ♪

♪ Blood on the streets runs a river of sadness ♪

♪ Blood in the streets, it’s up to my thighs… ♪

[engine revving]

[tires squealing]

♪ The women are crying, red rivers of weeping ♪

♪ She came in town and then she drove away ♪

♪ Sunlight in her hair ♪

Woo-hoo! I’m back!

[Melissa] Hi, Mom!

Where are you?

In the sitting room.


Did you draw a picture of Daddy like I asked?

[Melissa] Yes, and I drew you and the house, too.

Did you give him big ears?

Yes, I did. [giggles]

Good. Let me see.

Aw. I love that one the best.

That’s you picking an apple off the tree for salads. [laughs]

Oh, you’re like Eve.

Apple for salads.


Eve. You’re like Eve.


Well done in your amazing painting!

Oh, painting.

Here’s to the cake, here’s to the painting.

To Melissa, the artiste.

[Shannon] Let’s just see how I get on with his parents first, shall we?

Oh, yeah. Sure.

How’s my sister?

Well, she’s destroying the kitchen “making a cake.”

Hi, sis.

Hey, baby sis.

Send me a letter.

I’ll send you some cake.

What kind of cake?

Okay, got to run. Me and Connor are going for drinks.

Write me. I love you.

Oh, I love you.

And, oh, I want to hear more about him.

[computer chimes]

Would-would you…? Oh.

All right.

[Niall] Gym membership, gone. We hit the streets.


Which brings me to…

The Stag.

Oh, well, there’s no expense there ’cause I hardly ever use it.

Honey, I’ve seen your credit card receipts.

You’ve spent 1,200 this year alone on breakdowns and parts.

Well, what are you doing going through my credit card receipts?

You gave them to me to do our taxes?

You’re welcome, by the way.

Yeah. Thanks.

Well, what about your boat?

You know you could get a couple grand for that.

Okay. Fine.

[engine sputtering]

Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Oh, come on. Come on.

Oh, no, not again. Please?

Please? Please?

[horn honks loudly]

[tires squeak]

God… damn it.

I’m changing my number until you get rid of this thing.


[engine revving]

♪ ♪

[phone ringing]


Yeah. [coughs]

Excuse me. [clears throat]

Yeah. Yeah, I’m selling it for five grand.

Sure. Well, we’re around all weekend if you want to drop by.


Okay, I’ll text you the details.

Thanks. Bye.

Maybe found a buyer for the car.

Another one? Great.

You could have sold that car five times by now.


Yup. [sighs]

[Stephanie] The brakes are slow, so you’re alert, predicting things before they happen.

The steering’s rack-and-pinion, the bushings are pretty worn, so it’s basically like driving a go-cart.

I mean, you’d need to get that fixed, if you do buy it, but, you know, you probably won’t.

Well, you certainly know your stuff, for a lady.

Yeah, well, you’ll need to get your blood pressure checked ’cause these cars were designed for a much younger man.


Now, it’s just that my wife and my daughters have zero interest.

Whereas my son and I, we’ll tinker all afternoon, every Sunday.

My husband taught me everything I know about this car.

All right. He’s a… he’s an enthusiast, too?

Him? No. My first husband.


He bought this car when he was a student.

He saved every penny, worked two jobs through college.

He made sure I understood it before he’d let me near it.

Or anyone.


I mean, if you were to come down to 4,700, we could have a deal.

What do you think?


[laughs] Look, are you sure you want to sell this car?


[man on TV] What’s this heap of old iron doing here?

Old iron?

I’ll give you ten buck for it.

Don’t be daft. This was once a great car.

Is that a bit like the man buying your car, Mommy?

Oh, no, honey. That’s the mean junkyard man.

The man buying the car is actually pretty nice.

Oh, thank God.

You’re selling your guys’ Prius?

Oh, no. Um…

No, I’m actually thinking about selling the Stag.

It’s falling to pieces. I sent you…

You’re-you’re selling Dad’s car?

Well, I wasn’t going to until I had talked to you.

I mean, I’d keep it for you if you want.

It’s just, it breaks down every time I get in it.

And I got to fork out thousands to keep it on the road.

You know? And we don’t have a garage.

I guess.

Love, are you okay with that? Come on.

I sent you a mail. Uh, you obviously didn’t get it.

Fine. I love that car.

But yeah, I completely get it.

I don’t want it to fall apart in the street.

Are you sure?


[Niall] Now, bedtime, Missy!

Hey, girl!

Hey, Niall.

[Niall chuckles]

Look at you two. You little monkey.

Place sucks without you.

Eight more sleeps.

[Niall] Which reminds me.

Come on. [groans]


What do you say? Good night.

[Stephanie chuckles]

[Melissa] Good night.

[Niall] Good night, Shannon.

See you in a few days.

I’ll be up to read you a story in five minutes.

You’re grand.

I have an episode of The Crown to watch.

Not you.

That’s sure to knock me out.


He’s making me sell it.

No, he’s right. It’s the grown-up thing to do.

Dad told me never to attach too much meaning to things.

It’s a car.

What we all did in it that matters.

Those memories are seared into us forever.

Yeah. I mean, you know… it might not sell.

‘Cause the fella said he was gonna get back to me.

He’s got to run it by his wife.

So it-it might not even get sold.

Well, I mean, you don’t fully understand, because it’s 15 years until we send Melissa to college.

Yeah, but I can totally imagine what you’re going through.

But-but Skyping every night and physically looking at each other, it just makes the separation harder.

Phones were better.

For all these advancements, the 21st century just messes with things.

Well, I spoke to my mom a handful of times in four years of college.

It was better.

I don’t know.

Maybe she was privately bawling.

[grunts] That generation was more robust.


If I miss Melissa one percent as much

as I miss Shannon around here, I’ll be a wreck.


You don’t show it.

Can’t both be whimpering messes, now, can we?

I haven’t whimpered once.

I’m just hellishly lonely.

I’d never show the girls that.

I know. I’m… sorry.


God, no, don’t do that.


Don’t. Please.


All right. Sorry. I was just… trying to help. [grunts]


Now, you say you’re hellishly lonely.

Then I try to show you you are not alone, you bat me off, like a mosquito.

I see you. You’re right there next to me. Uh, I just… don’t feel you need to be intimate. That’s all.

If I can’t fix you with affection or intimacy, then what’s the point?

Fix me?

It’s not a pop song.


I’m not broken. I’m just…


You’re making me do something I don’t want to do.

Is this about that fucking car again?

Yeah. Maybe.


I felt awful telling Shannon that tonight.

So don’t sell the fuck… [stammers]

I mean, Jesus, I was just trying to keep the family from going bankrupt.

Well, we’re not going bankrupt!

Oh, God.



You’re gonna sulk?

I am not sulking.

I’m just thinking up other things we can do to make savings.

[inhales, exhales]

[man] And that was the headline news on Lunchtime Live on Radio Dublin FM.

[Louise] Well, it’s a beautiful winter’s day here, and we are just loving the change in the weather and the colors finally coming into the trees.

[phone ringing]

[man] Yeah. Definitely warms the cockles of the heart, Louise…


[John] We have a deal, if you haven’t sold her yet.

O-Oh, great.

Well, my wife says this is the last one.

She knows how long I’ve been searching for a Stag, so she’s cutting me some slack.

Yeah. Uh, well, congratulations.

That’s an early Christmas present for you.

Um, do you want to come over on Saturday lunchtime?

I’ll have her ready for you.

Bank draft okay?

Yeah, bank draft’s fine.

I’ll text you the details.

See you then.


[birds chirping]


[turns off vacuum]


[dogs barking in distance]




♪ ♪

So, Shannon’s seeing someone.

He’s a rower.

Studying medicine.

He’s good-looking, too.

But not so much that she’d need to arm herself.

You know?

It’s a personal triumph to me that he might be a doctor.

She’s coming home in five days, and I literally cannot wait.

You know, Niall and I were talking about that the other day.

We’re such lightweights, our generation.

You know? Crying at school gates.

Support group moms messaging each other about coping with separation anxiety.

I mean, it is ridiculous.

Niall doesn’t show any emotion.

That’s just his way.

So, big news.

Um… I’m selling the car.

And it’s breaking my heart.

It’s the bills, though.

It’s getting older, and I’m not getting any richer.

I can’t talk to you back at the house or at the office.

I mean, people would think I’m crazy.

But here?

Who cares?

It’s like I can feel your presence.

So, I’m getting five grand for it.

And I don’t know whether you would have killed me for letting it go for that.

But, actually, it’s pretty good for what these models are getting these days.

I know you put a lot of money into it.

Man, we got a lot of use out of it, didn’t we?

[chuckles, sniffles]

I’ll never forget the first day you showed up in it.

I’d known you about a year, and I thought you were absolutely crazy for buying a sports car.


Two broke lately students.

Want to have lunch in the canteen or are we going into town?

Oh, no, the canteen will kill you.

So, town.

[laughs] Yes.


Will we drive?

Will we what?

Will we drive?

Will we take the car?


You bought this car?

[chuckles] Yeah.

You joking?


Now you’re off to buying a sports car?

Until I got in.

[young Stephanie] Oh, my God.

[♪ Lir: “Traveller”]

♪ It’s easy to say ♪

[engine revving]

♪ When I walk away ♪

♪ As we circle ♪

♪ Around the mountain ♪

♪ Smoke from the tower ♪

♪ Don’t let us stop… ♪

Can I have a shot?



♪ Is going on ♪

♪ I mean well when I want to be ♪

♪ Alone again ♪

♪ ‘Cause you know I’ve never seen… ♪

Don’t change early.

Wait till it gets to the red line.

♪ I mean well when I want to be ♪


♪ Alone again… ♪

That’s good.

Should I change again?

Sure, change again.

♪ It’s all right ♪

Now, that’s the sweet spot. That’s 60.

♪ ♪

[Stephanie] We went everywhere in this thing.

Ladies, I’m going to take it to 60.


[Michael] Headscarves ready?

♪ Today ♪

♪ And you came by my way… ♪

[Stephanie] Seems like she was witness to all the good things in my life.

[Michael] All of my earliest memories of you is you saying you liked Battenberg.

[Stephanie] [laughs, sniffles] I like it…

[Michael] Are you saying I invented that?

[Stephanie] That I invented Battenberg?

[Michael] No, that I invented that memory.

[Stephanie] No. I love Battenberg.

It’s like a little, tiny, mini chessboard.

[Michael] So why are you complaining?

[Stephanie] Well, because it’s disgusting, obviously, but I like the way it looks.

[both laugh]

[Michael] You see? You just like the colors.

[Stephanie] I just like the pink and the yellow.

[Michael] Is that a yes?

[Stephanie] Yes.

♪ ♪

[horn honking]

[horn honks]


Pregnant woman!

Well, don’t slow down.

We never have the chance to go this fast.

Man, you were a good driver when you needed to be.

Be careful going down the slope there.

Yeah. I know.

I’ve got it. I’ve got it.


Right. I think the best thing is if…


There. Hello.

♪ ♪

Do you want Joe Jackson or Van Morrison, baby?


Van Morrison it is.

She wants the Wiggles.

You’re sure you don’t want “Days Like This”?

No. You want “Days Like This.”

That’s because we’ve only heard the Wiggles ten times this morning.

You only ever play music that you like.

You have to ask her what she likes.

I think we’ve established she likes the Wiggles.

I want to expose her to good music, so she’ll have taste.

But that never works.

She’s gonna like the exact opposite music to what we like.

That’s just science.

That’s probably true.

If we want her to listen to Van Morrison,

we should probably play her Michael Bublé.

Who’s Michael Bublé?

[♪ The Wiggles: “Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga, Big Red Car”]

♪ We’ll travel near ♪

♪ And we’ll travel far ♪

♪ Toot toot, chugga chugga, big red car ♪

♪ We’re gonna ride the whole day long ♪♪

[Stephanie] Shannon loved those afternoons you picked her up in it.

Cool dad.

[honks horn]

Oh. Uh, bye.

♪ ♪

Should I drive? Okay.

No. I want to.

[Stephanie] And the bad times.

The real, honest-to-goodness awful times.

♪ ♪

[Michael] Merry Christmas.

That… Have you got it?

Whoa, whoa. No.

Have you got it?

No, honey, honey, we’ve got it.

I’ve got it.

We’ve got it…

No. Let go.

[Stephanie] I’m so grateful we had that one beautiful Christmas together.

I’m fine.


What a… what about me?




Bought a tree with a monkey in it.

Sweet monkey face.

Sing us a song.

[Shannon] ♪ Have yourself a merry little Christmas ♪

♪ Let your heart be light ♪

[all vocalizing]

[Shannon vocalizing]

[Stephanie and Michael laugh]

[Stephanie shudders]

You never get cold.

What come you’re cold?


♪ ♪


♪ ♪

♪ ♪

[Stephanie] Shannon helped me out so much after that.


[Stephanie] As best she could.

I’m making the dinner tonight.



What are you gonna make?




And sometimes she couldn’t.

♪ ♪

[tires screech]


♪ ♪

So, my worry is I’m not gonna be able to talk to you again like this.

Do you think I will?

Do you think it’s like meditation?

That you can do it anywhere?

So, I’m gonna meet Shannon’s boyfriend over the holiday.

I want to tell you all about him.

Anyway, I love you, and I miss you.

We both do.

There’s not a day I don’t wake up or go to sleep without thinking about you.

[brakes squeal]

See, that’s her song.

Sorry I’m late. Here we are.



Now, uh, got the bank draft?

Yes, indeed.


Here we go.


It’s all there.

Oh, yeah. Okay.


Right, anything I need to…?

Um, the-the brakes are slow, and, uh…


She… She’s sticky between second and third.

Um, the sweet spot’s, you know, not around here.

[engine starts]

Thanks again.

Yeah, you’re welcome.


Away we go.

See you!

Oh, go on, why don’t you break down now, honey?

[Niall] So, I sold the boat.

[water running]


How much did you get for it?

Three and a half grand.

That’s great.

You okay?

Yeah, I’m fine.

It was totally the right thing to do.

[water stops]

I shouldn’t resent you for encouraging me to sell the Stag.

You know, I should reward you for keeping our family on track.


You know, that car was holding me back.

What do you mean, holding you back?

It’s like a time machine.

You know?

Like, when… I get in it, it literally transports me.

And… sometimes, I even talk to him.

And, you know, I’m-I’m… I’m sorry about that.

How do you mean, talk to him?

It’s like he’s there beside me.


Only happens when, uh, I’m on my own.

Why didn’t you tell me this before?

Because I didn’t want you to think I was crazy or that I was too involved in my past life or that…

I’m trying to keep him alive or something.

I don’t think you can control things like that.

I have a sweater of his in the back of my closet that I keep in plastic.

And sometimes I take it out, and I smell it, and it’s like he’s in the room with me and he’s got his arms around me.

Is that wrong?

I mean, do you want to leave me?

For some folks who lose people, it can be a real challenge to keep them alive.

They heal quickly and get on with their lives and feel terrible for it.

For others, it’s almost as hard to keep them dead.

They won’t leave them alone the rest of their life.

It’s love and grief, baby.

There are no rules.

Does it bother you that Michael is still so present in my life?

You loved him at the time he died, right?

Love sets at moments like that.

Grief hopefully fades, and memory, eventually, but love?

I knew how much you loved him going into this.

I’m a grown-up.

But I also know how much room there is in there.

That’s what drew me to you.

That your heart was the biggest place I had ever been in the world.

I knew that from the way you are with people.

My parents. Patients. Daughters.

And if I got one little part of that, well, that was way more than I ever expected in life.

You mean that?

I have a cup, chipped and broken in the office, belonging to my mom.

I can see her at the window at home, refilling endless cups of peppermint tea when I was a kid.

I don’t know why, but it just, well, transports me.

Sometimes I like to drink from it.

It’s like kissing her.

How did I get so lucky twice in my life?

I’m grateful I did once.

Can I tell you something?

You remember that day when I said I was driving and…

…closed my eyes and let go of the wheel?

Pretty sure someone grabbed the wheel and steered me back onto the road.

So I could come to you.


[doorbell rings]

[dogs barking]

How are you? [chuckles]

How are you?

Great. Um, do you have a minute?

I do.

Hi! Hi! Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas, baby!

What’s going on? I-I thought you’d sold her.

Ah, it’s a long story.

So, what happened?

Niall sold his boat, and he used the money to buy the car back.

[chuckles] You’re such nutcases.

Yeah. Come on, strap in.

Let’s go.

You in?


[tires squeal]

I was all set for a boring train ride.

This is the best surprise ever.

Yeah, screw trains.

The open road, right?

You might want to put on a wooly hat ’cause it’s gonna be chilly.

And, you know, we’re probably gonna break down.

And we might get lost.

Remember what your dad always used to say?

I do.

We get lost together.

Here we go.

Been listening to this all term.

[♪ Van Morrison: “Days Like This”]

Do you know this album?

♪ When it’s not always raining ♪

[singing along] ♪ There’ll be days like this ♪

♪ When there’s no one complaining ♪

♪ There’ll be days like this ♪

♪ When everything falls into place ♪

♪ Like the flick of a switch ♪

♪ Well, my mama told me ♪

♪ There’ll be days like this ♪

♪ When you don’t need to worry ♪

♪ There’ll be days like this ♪

♪ When no one’s in a hurry ♪

♪ There’ll be days like this ♪

♪ When you don’t get betrayed ♪

♪ By that old Judas kiss ♪

♪ Oh, my mama told me ♪

♪ There’ll be days like this ♪

♪ When you don’t need an answer ♪

♪ There’ll be days like this ♪

♪ When you don’t meet a chancer ♪

♪ There’ll be days like this ♪

♪ When all the parts of the puzzle ♪

♪ Start to look like they fit ♪

♪ Then I must remember ♪

♪ There’ll be days like this ♪

♪ There’ll be days like this ♪

♪ When everyone is up-front ♪

♪ And they’re not playing tricks ♪

♪ When you don’t have no freeloaders ♪

♪ Out to get their kicks ♪

♪ When it’s nobody’s business ♪

♪ The way that you want to live ♪

♪ I just have to remember ♪

♪ There’ll be days like this ♪

♪ When no one steps on my dreams ♪

♪ There’ll be days like this ♪

♪ When people understand what I mean ♪

♪ There’ll be days like this ♪

♪ When you ring out the changes ♪

♪ Of how everything is ♪

♪ Well, my mama told me ♪

♪ There’ll be days like this ♪


♪ Oh, my mama told me ♪

♪ There’ll be days like this ♪

♪ Oh, my mama told me ♪

♪ There’ll be days like this ♪


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