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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Kathleen Turner

The table: bottle of beer, bottle of beer, glass of wine, and glass of cranberry juice. Four plates of chicken cordon bleu. A bowl of roasted asparagus. A bowl of roasted potatoes. Four forks, four knives, four napkins, Eight male forearms resting against the four edges of the table.

A pause in conversation. Four mouths twisted into silence. Eight eyes trained on the food.

(Two dogs, a large one and a small one, sniffing about, hoping for scraps, crumbs, sloppy eaters.)

And one attempt to start the conversation: "Kathleen Turner has a disease. A disorder. It's why she's fat now. It's why she now lacks Body Heat."

I was the one who made the conversation attempt. I mentioned Kathleen Turner because the gentleman to my left, Ray, had professed his love of V. I. Warchawski twenty minutes earlier. Twenty minutes earlier, we'd been in the livingroom. Now we were in the diningroom, at the diningroom table, enjoying the meal Ray had cooked for us.

"Oh, she was so hot in Body Heat," Ray said. "Now she's so fat."

"She's our Elizabeth Taylor," I said.

The apartment we were in: Highboys, side tables, couches, recliners, end tables, area rugs. Actual curtains.

The apartment I share with Greg: tablecloth as a kitchen curtain, and a blanket for a bedroom curtain. And a futon for a couch, and a stripped-out computer casing for an end table. And we never eat at a diningroom table: we eat in bed, or at a computer desk, or on a futon with a plate resting precariously on a stripped-out computer.

"Kathleen Turner's doing a new show," I said.

"Oh?" Ray said, placing a forkful of potatoes into his mouth.

"Yeah," I said. "This chicken is amazing." It wasn't amazing. It was good. It was nice. It was delicious. Amazing chicken dances around the edge of the plate before diving into the center of it, like Esther Williams. Ray's cordon bleu chicken was inert amongst the asparagus and the potatoes, confident in its appeal. Ray's chicken was comfort, skillfully prepared.

"Ray and I recently watched War of the Roses," Ray's partner said. "That death scene."

"That death scene," I echoed. "The chandelier smashes to the ground, Michael Douglas reaches out to her with his last dying breath, and she flings his hand away. Then she dies."

Four forks scraped at four plates in another awkward silence.

"This is delicious, by the way," Greg told Ray.

"Thank you," Ray said.

Ray's partner took a swig from his beer bottle. Said: "It's better than delicious." Ray's partner had a scruffy beard and looked like Chris McCandless and occasionally leaned back in his chair to enjoy whatever moment had come upon him. He seemed to be a guy at peace. He smiled often.

"The thing about Kathleen Turner," I said, "is that she combines old Hollywood with new. Back in the day, she was like a studio trooper, you know what I mean? She played to type but she knew how to work the type, the sexy ingenue, the mature Lana Turner type, the brittle Bette Davis type. She could do film noir, she could do rom-com caper. Crimes of Passion seemed kinda Barbara Stanwyck Double Indemnity, right, and Romancing the Stone seems sort of Kate Hepburn anything."

Greg nudged me beneath the table with his foot. Or rather I expected him to nudge me but he didn't--he let me go on.

"So Kathleen Turner did a role Elizabeth Taylor made famous. Both actresses were known to be sexy in their youth but... well anyway, they both played Martha from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf."

Ray looked at his partner.

Ray's partner scraped his fork against his plate.

One of the two dogs sniffed my thigh.

"At least she didn't turn out like Sean Young," Ray said.

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