Hauling Foam Away By The Truckload

Dear CF,

I’d pay good money to see you in your stirrup pants, and wish so much you could have come. I wore our shirt, as you know, and my weirdo jeans from when I was 13. They’re oddly high-waisted, and from the knees down they’re tie-dyed white with embroidered stars. I have an actual picture of my first day of junior high which I will share with you some day. It is beyond description. For starters, I’m wearing a “Hello, My Name Is” sticker. At home. Before leaving for school. Meaning, it wasn’t mandatory, nobody was handing out nametags and sharpies. It was on my own initiative and of my own free will that I chose to announce myself to Middle School thusly. No wonder I didn’t last long.

It was odd and delightful to have the apartment filled with people. Many of them gentle souls. All in all, it was a cheery night. I’m pleased beyond all sense with the outcome.

I haven’t been able to see Pillow Talk (which isn’t on Netflix? Where did you find it?) but I saw The Thrill of it All the night my grandmother died. I was shocked by the whole third-baby subplot–his plan to impregnate her in order to arrest her career, his subsequent pretense that he was having an affair (how exactly did he plan to prove he WASN’T, I wonder?), and his decision at the end to interpret her desire to “be a doctor’s wife again” not to be a gesture at reconciliation, but a total surrender of her own hopes.

I take your point that Doris Day is the silver screen’s reproductive queen. There is something so wholesome about her—surprising, considering the artificial coloring of her skin and hair. She’s perfect, she’s impressively sexed, golden-skinned, golden-coiffed, golden-bosomed, and yet she’s absolutely unsexy. I think our modern-day equivalent (minus the fake-n-bake) is Reese Witherspoon.

The money discussion was fascinating: that she was offended that her money was hers, while his money was THEIRS. Incredibly realistic–one of the movie’s better scenes. I loved the fight, too. Some dimensions of that relationship are so dead-on and relatable. Which made it all the more odd that the movie chooses to take Doc’s shining moment, when he apologizes for being jealous of her career, and turns it, without warning or apparent discomfort, into a bald manipulation. That was played so straight! I didn’t anticipate the chauvinist wink, and it took me off-guard. (I compare the off-kilter feeling to the most recent episode of The Office, that uncomfortable and slightly aimless scene in which Jim’s brothers “prank” him by mocking Pam’s career. The episode refuses to direct the audience’s response, so we’re left to draw our own conclusions about What It All Means in a highly unfictional, unsatisfying way.)

I miss you, savvy? In my dreams you will be wearing stirrup pants and Vans.



P.S. Hm. It may be some time before I can reclaim “savvy” from Jack Sparrow.

9 Responses to Hauling Foam Away By The Truckload

  1. Carla Fran says:

    Oh my. That name tag image is priceless. Priceless! Okay, so you’re right. I totally forgot about Jack Sparrow, Clark Gable just says it so well that it obliterated all other users of the phrase. Darnit. As for Pillow Talk, I think I actually had to get the DVD of that one in the traditional Netflix method, by mail. Get it. It will reward you with more prudish sexery.

  2. howard says:

    You think Doris Day was unsexy? Are you kidding? She had one of the greatest figures in Hollywood, and wore high-fashion clothes like a dream. True, her personality was wholesome, but sofar as the looks department goes – woof, woof!

  3. Millicent says:

    No arguments here. Gorgeous, yes. Clothes, yes! But not sex-y–that is, provocative, explicitly sexual.

  4. Carla Fran says:

    But she was willing to go away for the weekend with a fella before the ring was on her finger. However, if she was on Madmen, she wouldn’t be a Joan, would she…

  5. Millicent says:

    and there is that bathtub scene…

  6. Carla Fran says:

    Just wait till you see Pillow Talk. There is an amazing bathtub scene in that one. Rock Hudson’s legs are there to be ogled. Seeing a man’s body that much on display, it’s quite choice.

  7. Karen says:

    Maybe the movies of her era were not as provocative as they are allowed to be today. However, most of the baby boomers will agree that the sexiest movie star from their era was Doris Day. One of her co-stars commented back in the 50’s that Doris Day had more sex appeal in her pinky than most movie actresses have in a life time.
    Ms. Day was offered many roles that could have changed the image that the baby boomers had come to love, but she refused them. Admittedly, it might have changed the opinion of alot of people who nowadays think she was not sexually appealing, but make no mistake, she was known by her co-stars and her public as being knock down gorgeous at the peak of her career.
    Sex appeal does not mean you need to strip down naked in front of the camera…sex appeal is showing off what you have and making the public wish they could see more.
    Ms. Day had more than that. Her talent both in films and music have been unmatched and she is still revered as one of the most honored celebrities of all time.
    By the way, I just love Reese Witherspoon. She is no Doris Day, but she has a charm all her own.

  8. Millicent says:

    Hi Karen!

    Thanks for writing! I take your point and agree wholeheartedly–Ms. Day had a rare and captivating screen presence, and sex appeal back then (and still today) has little or nothing to do with clothes or (maybe more to the point in your comment) the lack thereof. She’s talented, charismatic and utterly delightful. Let the record reflect both my (and CF’s) Doris-love, and I’m with you: sex appeal is certainly not the most important or relevant thing about her.

    I guess what I’m trying to do is articulate a subtle but (to me) important distinction between “gorgeous” and “sexy” that I think DD helped make possible in film. A woman can be mind-blowingly beautiful without being overtly sexual, and I think that to some extent Doris Day combined that classical idea with a spunky 20th century aesthetic. That’s definitely not to say she wasn’t attractive, or that she ACTUALLY lacked sex appeal–indeed, her purity probably makes her that much MORE appealing.

    But would you agree with me that other very talented femmes on the silver-screen go–Lauren Bacall, say (to go back a few decades)–cultivated a more erotically charged screen-presence than Ms. Day?

    I guess what interests me is the attractive, strongly “sexed” yet at the same time pure image DD crafted. As you point out, it’s an intriguing (and quite deliberately managed) career that was wildly successful at an interesting time in American film. What exactly did she tap into?


  9. Karen says:

    I think they call it Charisma! She had it from day one when she did her first screen test. Without an ounce of training or experience in front of the camera, she became an overnite star and stayed that way most of her career.
    There has been a lot of discussion since she ended her career, and film historians are now saying she was seriously overlooked and deserved more recognition than she got. There are very few actresses who could sing, dance, and do film and television and be successful in all arenas. Ms. Day did all of these, and did them well.
    I believe we will never see the likes of anyone like her again. She is definitely “One Of A Kind!”

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