Doris Day, Fertility Goddess

Dear Millicent,

I am sure I am not the first one to present this thesis, but, like a college freshman, since the thought arrived in my head solo, I’ll pretend like I am the first to discover that the pool has a deep end. In every film that I have watched starring Doris Day she is the ultimate reproducer. Love, for her, equals babies. Doris Day is a baby machine.

My research is not thorough, but this is my evidence so far:

  • The Thrill of It All: I’ve already talked about all the reproduction going on there, but it does end with her realizing the importance of babies, and then going upstairs with James Garner to have some babymakin’ sex.
  • Pillow Talk: The movie ends with the announcement of an apparently blissful, and successful, three months of marriage. Day is preggaroo.
  • It Happened To Jane: Actually, I don’t know here. She has kids, but is not knocked up at the end…however she is in a virginal white dress that gets unbearable tarnished with soot as she proposes to her future husband. So, we can take that back to a fertile/earth mother deity thing right? As she enters marriage, takes control of her life, she has a connection to the earth (coal?).
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much: While walking along in Marrakesh, Day surprises Stewart with a chat about how she wants another baby. The rest of the movie could be seen as a metaphor for how hard it is to actually be a parent (constant worry, valuing your child’s life over the lives of others, having no control of the future (the theme song is Que Sera, after all)).

On an interesting note, one of the Marx brothers once famously said “I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin.” And there is such a strong note of purity about her, mostly because the babies are always the outcome and symbol of the happy, holy marriage. Compare, say, “The Thrill of it All” to Godard’s “A Woman is a Woman,” and you have the same ending (a couple in bed trying to get up the stick (I’ve always thought that was an uncomfortably foul phrase)), but the states of the couples are opposite. Garner and Day are a rich married couple, very much mainstream, with two kids already. Her independence and spokes-modeling career are conquered by the desire to have a kid. In “A Woman is a Woman” they are two unmarried kids, barely making a living, and Anna Karina’s intent to get pregnant is the symbol of her independence–she wants to have a kid and goes through all kinds of tomfoolery to make it so (which is an issue, for another discussion, but she does call herself a dame…so I am almost, almost, all right with it).

But maybe the actual fascination here is that in most of these movies the female characters are making the decision to have a child. To bring it up to Stewart as if getting preggers is a choice they both can make, and not an immediate symptom of married life. She also chooses to get pregnant with Garner. In both cases, they have kids that are over 5, and the parents have obviously had sex in the years since the initial pregnancies. So, maybe all this is code for the fact that birth control was now a daily part of normal American life? And in France, because they were cooler and smoked more, it was part of daily bohemian living, too? Ladies, so set on pregnancy, could now actually announce that they were pursuing pregnancy in their sexual relationships, instead of the older model of sex=baby. And you could talk about it, in public even.

But I think right now you are in junior high? Your home turned into Angela Chase’s basement? Don’t let Rayanne near the spiked punch! or Catalano! I still wore stirrup pants for an unfortunate majority of 7th grade, and then I somehow went grunge, very quickly. It was an uncomfortable transition, but if I could attend your party tonight, I think I would dress in my creme stirrup pants, and knee-length nautical sweater. For shoes, probably some Van’s, in homage to my misguided attempts to think that they made everything somehow alternative and therefore better. I hope nobody at the party tonight sweats as much as I did in middle school. Overactive glands. Oh, the terror. Even the memory of the terror. I wish I was a lot of things, but I am glad that the overactive sweat gland days have subsided.

Off to journal about how I know it’s not cool to want Guess jeans anymore, but that I still really want a pair, and then to read Brian Jacques books where the animals talk and have lovely feasts with things like “acorn tartlet” and “pumpkin jam pie.”

Yours,

CF

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