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.

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.”



The Mermaids, Singing

While watching Funny Girl, I kept wanting to apply the plot from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.  It doesn’t completely hold up, but is fun to consider.

  • Red hair.
  • The view from the bottom (Fanny’s Henry Street her own little ocean kingdom)
  • The singing, usually about yearning or adorable shenanigans.
  • Legs as the beauty ideal.  Fanny is constantly referencing her skinny legs, while Ariel just wants legs and a pass to the castle.
  • Major transformation: street-kid to confident celebrity, or mermaid to leggy bride.
  • Nicky and Prince Eric both go for ruffled shirts.

Maybe it was the sense of ingenue that both films share, but it was very fun.  Other thoughts:

  • Fanny’s first dinner with Nicky is so full of first relationship flutters.  I love her back and forth between the shock that this man, this hot guy likes her, and then her insistence on her own control/narrative of elegance/composure.  She is both inexperienced and fairly sure of what she wants (though unwilling to thoroughly announce it).
  • That divan.  Wait, that dining room.  I hate to be crass, but that private dining room is pretty much one giant vagina (at least, this is the thought I had when the doors open, which led me to thinking if all the infamous red rooms of bordellos are actually giant versions of engorged membranes).
  • Back to the divan.  There it is, giggly and very present.  I love her reaction to it.  I’m not sure I love how she succumbs (that we actually see her ultimately horizontal), but I love how it is the big scary hilarious unavoidable (she can’t stop sitting on it) elephant in the room.  Also, I do kinda love that she is ultimately horizontal.  She’s no seducee, she’s an interested newbie.
  • Much enjoyed quote: “A stranger should be strange,” says Fanny’s mom at her party, surmising Nick as he happily gambles with the older ladies.
  • Is one of the reason’s Streisand is so popular the same reason most people like Springsteen’s “Thunder Road”? In that song, there is the famous line “You ain’t a beauty, but hey, you’re alright.”  Julia Roberts even identifies with that line (I read that in a Rolling Stone once).  Do we love things that acknowledge our fear that we aren’t gorgeous, but are still indeed attractive in some other soul serving way?  Do we love watching obviously gorgeous people talk about their insecurities, thus proving that our insecurities insure our own humble beauty?
  • Oh! The costumes.  Le sigh.
  • Did you notice the strange refrigeration theme? In that first song she sings on roller skates she keeps talking about the Frigidaire man, and once rich, she shows off her in home icebox.  Thoughts?
  • I also kept thinking of Jennifer Aniston.  So, Ariel and Anniston.  Odd?
  • Lobsters in Maryland? No, silly movies.  It’s crabs.
  • Speaking of lobsters, this brings us to Doris Day.  Fanny could have a good long chat with Day’s character in The Thrill of it All!.  They both have men that cannot handle their women in higher paying, more satisfied jobs.  Except, fertility does solve Day’s problem, and mostly seems to complicate Fanny’s (though it’s more of a sidenote).
  • Nicky is gross, full of weakness that I will allow myself but not anybody I want to marry.  He is so frustrating at the end that I cannot believe her last song.  The ending is bullshit.  The dress is divine.
  • Nicky is fairly dreamy at the start. But, he reminds me of two similarly dreamy men (upon initial acquaintance) that are wracked by immaturity and self-esteem probs. So, lesson learned.

This comes together to another theme that has been running around my head lately.  A very dear friend of mine is recovering from a recent pregnancy loss.  The pregnancy itself was unexpected, embraced, and then discovered to not be a successful pregnancy.  This all happened in weeks, and the changes in her life and outlook (as you know the power of a few weeks), were immense.  I am starting to think that all major things in our life are about creation–love, reproduction, work.  These are the places where the stakes do not need our tampering to make them higher (versus the pettier intense narratives that I may create and obsess in my daily life).  But when it comes to these things, time can stop, worlds can change.  These things are the stuff of biography, of that certain juice where we perk up and say “I didn’t know it could be like this. I didn’t know this could be part of my life.”   This could go either good or bad, but it where we become our own movie, and get to leave the television redundancy of the every day.

We make some good things,



The Thrill of it All!

Dear tollbooth phantom,

It’s Friday. My cat has taken a nap in the sun, behind my laptop, and is very much enjoying stretching herself into the gap between desk and wall. She also just took a bite out of an inspirational quote (yes, I do that) that I had taped over the laptop, as, well, ahem, inspiration. So many things to tell you this fine end o’ the week!

1.) The lissome redhead you describe–she reminds me of Joan from Madmen, probably because of the control she carries in body and presentation. I find that I can’t stop optically groping Joan when I watch the show. Redheads are famous for this quality, but then I feel like quite the objectifying jerk to even say that. But the redheads will also be extinct in a hundred years. Or so they say.

2.) I found out today that LA has flocks of green parrots (or parrot-like birds)! They all came to the tree outside my office, and I realized that parrots are loud visually and aurally.

3.) I think we should start a bi-monthly segment in our chit-chats where we examine the treasures of Netflix instant. Last night, I was grumpy and unmotivated, and perusing through my Netflix options, I fell upon a wonderfully sloppy Doris Day movie called The Thrill of It All.

I thought it would be some great clothes, some snappy lines, a lot of blond–but instead it was an amazing trip to the sixties of Madmen, but with none of the modern winks at how very depressing (and well-dressed) it all was. Here are some of my scattered thoughts about the crazy thing, below:

  • In short–the movie is about a happy housewife (Day) who gets the chance to become a successful spokes-model for a soap called “Happy.” Her husband (James Garner) is an obstetrician (hello fertility!), and they have a bunch of marital troubles because she works.
  • All major plot points include babies or baby-making. Day gets the job because hubby successfully got the aging couple that owns “Happy Soap” preggers. The knocked up CEO’s wife at one point says “There is nothing more fulfilling in life than having a baby.” This refrain plays in Garner’s head throughout the movie as he tries to seduce his wife so that she too can be knocked up, and the soap career will be squashed.
  • When his sexual stealth attack fails, he tries to emotionally break his wife by tricking her into thinking he is having an affair and is now a drunkard, all because of her success. This is, again, all to hopefully end her career.
  • CEO soap baby is born–both Day and Garner help deliver, which leads her to realizing that he really does get to do the most important thing in the world, and that she wants to help and just be a doctor’s wife again!
  • When CEO soap baby is born, CEO daddy looks at CEO mommy and exclaims “you are a genius!” I love how this suggests that a woman’s intelligence is all about pushing the babies out.
  • At the end, Day and Garner go upstairs to do it. Animated fireworks shoot up and explode as the credits roll.
  • I could go on and on about the reproduction/production theme in this movie, but there are some other amazing moments. One is the terry-cloth turban Day wears in the shower. I want one. NOW. Speaking of wants, I want Doris Day hair, every day. It’s blond, fluffy, and somehow sexy, elegant, and casual without directly trying to be any of them directly. She bottles ketchup in that hair (well, not in the hair) and then goes to a grand party thrown in her honor, same hair. And apparently, she never washes it, because that turban is there for a reason.
  • It does make you realize how spot on Madmen’s costuming and set design is.
  • There is an entire scene about a backyard filled with foam.
  • In short, the movie seems to want to appear modern for addressing women’s rights, but also has the overall message of, you can have rights, as long as you don’t really want to use them, kay?
  • It’s delightful, for all of its nonsense. It is, afterally, Mizz Day.

Maybe we could arrange a NetFlix instant to fall upon every couple of weeks, and then discuss the joys to be had? It would be like we almost were watching them together, except miles apart, and not at the same time? And I think the world needs our help in navigating Netflix, and what could instantly be had.

Lastly, your thoughts on celebrity were exact, and I am realizing how nice it is to find your letters every day, and enjoy the well-stitched quality of your observations.