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Cougar Town Recap: The Spinner

A pretty zany episode! We pick up where we left off, with Travis sleeping all day, keeping the windows drawn, depressed, and skipping out on college. Bobby and Jules are trying to bring him out of his funk — and invent a series of increasingly elaborate "parent!" secret handshakes — and just when they think they've succeeded and convinced him to go back to college after the long spring break, Kevin comes by to tell them Travis has been MIA for weeks and has basically dropped out. He's just "lost" right now. Jules then has to do the one thing with Travis she is basically physically incapable of doing: administer tough love. She tells him he's going back to school, or she's kicking him out. He calls her bluff and they have a "beach day" like they did when he was little, which consists of a montage of seaside frolicking and falling into sand castles. After a cozy night of watching videos, Travis leaves a note for his mom on the bed saying "last night was fun" and bails on brunch. Laurie, wearing an outstanding pair of shoulder pads, asks Jules, "Did you just get one-night-standed by your own son?" Yes, yes she did.

Getting one-night-standed by your son! Funny if you don't think about it long enough for it to turn icky. (Cougar Town sort of forces you to think about it that long, setting up a role-play between Jules and Grayson where Grayson pretends to be Travis, and he and Jules end up making out anyway. Everyone just has to walk away.) After getting slighted by her own son, Jules uteruses up and gives a smackdown: He's not lost, he got hurt and is making the "scared, lazy decision." He can go back to school, which she will pay for, or he will move out and get a job. Unfortunately, no one tells Bobby about this ultimatum: He bequeaths the boat to Travis, who is now a lost college dropout living on a boat.

The reason Bobby is in a position to give away the boat: He sells Penny Can for a bundle of money. Rewind: Bobby, Laurie, and Andy show Bobby's golf client and Smith's father (Barry Bostwick) the joys of Penny Can. (He dismisses it at first: "You might as well just throw your money in a hole." "That is the game," Laurie says.) He's a legit businessman, and wants to buy the idea from them. The threesome go to a business meeting and learn that Lou Diamond Phillips (who is pretty short, and later makes a great Young Guns 2 joke) will be the face of Penny Can, and also that the new Penny Cans will move, talk, and have lights. Bobby gets distraught: This isn't Penny Can! There's no dancing in the official rules, no 'stache attack, not even ear flicking. He ear flicks Andy to make a point, and Andy starts to bleed in the meeting. He will wear a bandage for the rest of the episode. Bobby doesn't want to sign, but Laurie and Andy do — it's $40,000, plus a part of the profits, and Bobby needs that money. They pretend they won't do it if they don't have his permission, except they already signed the deal without his permission. Andy hands Bobby a check and shows him the new model Penny Can — inside it says "created by Bobby Cobb." Also, it climbs walls. Also, it says "way." Bobby decides he loves it, and goes and gets an apartment.

Then, in the weirdest story line of all, Grayson and Ellie team up with sad neighbor Tom to contend with the Chalk Children, three flaxen-haired neighborhood tykes who look like they come straight out of Children of the Corn. The Chalk Children draw disturbing chalk drawings on their neighbor's driveways, and if you try to wash away the chalk, the Children get verrrry creepy. This is all an excuse for Grayson and Ellie to hang, which is a dynamic we like and also lays some groundwork for Grayson remaining in the gang, even if things go south with him and Jules. It's also an excuse for Tom to get a little more integrated into the plot: He tells Grayson and Ellie a sad story about how lonely he's been since his wife died, and they take pity on him. All together they make really scary faces that scare off the scary Chalk Children. At the end of the episode, the Chalkies' mother comes by the bar and says her son is scared of them, did they do anything? They coo that it's all a miscommunication and then make scary faces at the kid behind her back. Overgrown children are more childish than real children could ever be, and it's a glorious thing.

Vocab time!

The Robot: the dance you do when someone makes three shots in a row in Penny Can

Spinner: in penny can, when a penny spins around the rim of the can

Face Sandwich: in which a person’s face is pressed between two other faces; in Penny Can, this happens for the duration of a “Spinner” (see above)

Chalk Children: neighborhood kids who look like Children of the Corn

Downerville: population, Tom

Imaginary Blood Brothers: wherein you pretend to become real brothers, by miming cutting your thumbs and pressing them together

Photo: Colleen Hayes/ABC