The L Word : Behind the Scenes

The L Word Bette Porter Tina Kennard

#4 Touch Tones: Kryptonite

14 Comments

Kit_Bette big smiles_ seated

Soundstage – Kit – 3PM

As I hurry behind the taillights of a limousine I’m nearly out of breath by the time I finally get inside the party. I do a quick 360 to look around me. Good Lord, when Bette came to see me earlier with news she was marrying Tina, and at three o’clock they were telling everybody, she didn’t describe anything like the size of this place. Not a word was mentioned about the scale of this venue, the movie stars I see standing by the side of the stage, or the hundreds of people all waving rainbow flags at one another. Little announcement, my ass. Sometimes I need a lie detector and a seatbelt to roll with these people.

Their sudden rises in altitude followed by their equally dramatic falls is what my sister and her friends do best. That or resemble a mangled freight train burning up at the crossroads. And unless I’ve just snapped out of a three-year coma, Bette and Tina act most days like they hate each other.

You blink and you can miss a year around here.

Coma or not, and daily it remains debatable if I’m losing my mind, I do know that my sister and Tina are crazy about their child, and as parents they’ll always be loving and unconventional. And every bit of that is good news to me. You just never know how some folks are going to be with their kids.

Just look at us. The human race is so fucked up. Eon after eon dumbass folk keep doing the same stupid things. And I’m plenty self-destructive. I’ll cop to that. Once, if you played me a real good sad song I’d finish the bottle with you. Fuck, who said anything about tomorrow?

When Bette was still young I had hit the road for the R&B Clubs between Kansas City, Detroit and Chicago. It was selfish of me, I admit it. But I swear to God I couldn’t take another second of Daddy’s stodginess. So, I left Bette motherless to grow up with the Methodists, and The Ten Commandments, and our overbearing father. I know it was complicated for her still brokenhearted over losing her mom. I saw it with my own eyes whenever I did drift back home.

And then for better or worse it became just how she was. Bette approached every one of her romantic relationships saddled with our Daddy’s wandering eye. Like the gallery owner she became she acquired the next one and then the next – each woman more interesting than the one before.

And that went on for years when finally after going through women like popcorn at a movie Tina had miraculously stayed. And it wasn’t too long after that I began to notice something: Tina was Bette’s Kryptonite.

At first I thought it was amusing as hell, and I had hidden behind faked fits of coughing just to cover over my trails. After a screed of over amped righteousness Bette would begin to feel the whammy of Tina’s Kryptonite. It was a switch only Tina had, and thank God, she wasn’t afraid to use it.

They’d exchange a look and something I never found the words for would pass between them. Then, they’d kiss each other like nobody’s business – whether anybody else was around them or not.

Someone really should sell tickets to this shit.

Bette_GREAT Kiss_Handbehind her headKiss

Limousine – Tina – 3 PM

I take another swallow of the brandy Claire poured me a moment ago. I know she hopes it will ease the gnawing uneasiness I can’t seem to shake. A nervousness that feels old, and clingy, and just won’t go away.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t had to manage Bette’s nerves that I’m feeling aware of my own so fragile and jangled. Until we drove inside the soundstage, and Bette got a look at the so-called, “wedding announcement” surprise Claire had in store for her, Bette had been uncommonly calm.

This staged event, in what I hope is not an overreaching of Claire’s, is brilliant from a PR point of view. My movie, our wedding announcement, historic gay marriage legislation, and the feminist icon, Gloria Steinem, all rolled into one. If I can get my shit together Bette and I will look nothing like the spoofs and impersonations of us in the movie. But now, even though I’m the one who started it, I’m finding it practically impossible to leave the bubble of this limousine.

What if I go up on stage with Bette and take her beautiful ring? Then like having a baby, something that was life changing and forever with her, it makes me lose my mind all over again?

Until recently, my life saving grace has always been my extraordinary ability to compartmentalize. In a box way, way down was where I’d kept the memories of those nights with my sister. When the seal to my secrets had been broken I’d fainted and whacked my head against the side of The Fortune Teller’s table.

I remember the last card I had drawn and turned over to her.

 

TheChariot

 

The Chariot

“There will come a time very soon with you, and the one you love, when neither of you can look away anymore,” the Gypsy had said. “You’ll know it because you’ll feel a great tension and a hundred things will be swirling around you.” And then, she had looked across at me with a warning. “To go forward together this is the moment for your union, Tina, and you can’t miss it.”

I let out an audible sigh inside the limousine and finish the last of my drink.

 

Bette_sincere_studio w:brother

I tune back into the conversation going on around me and hear Claire employing a well-placed piece of leverage with Bette who’s been having her own version of, “Do I stay or do I go?”

I smile at her reaction to Gloria’s personal message. With her on the stage with us, and Bette’s father looking down from a wiser place, Melvyn will absolutely bless this union of ours.

“God! She is so fucking right!” Bette exclaims before kissing me and throwing open the limo door.

Camera flashes temporarily blind me. There’s so much more I want to say.

Alice_Lesbo Land

Engagement Announcement – Alice in Lesbo Land – 3:05 pm

“Hey everybody! Whew! You’ll have to excuse me while I catch my breath. I’ve been running because the press conference for Les Girls,” I stop and pant a little as I point off to camera right, “we just shot for you outside. Now, we’ve set up again in a completely different spot. We’re actually coming to you from inside the big soundstage where shooting for the lesbian themed feature movie, Les Girls, began today. That’s right! The producer, Tina Kennard, confirmed that with me earlier.”

I stop and take a quick sip of water. “And so the excitement continues people because just wait for what I’ve got for you next.”

A beat in time passes before I continue. “Is Gloria Steinem someone you might like to hear comments from? About gay rights and human rights, and California’s freedom to marry legislation?” I shake my fists in a cheer.

Claire Vertical DarkGrey dress

Off camera Claire sends a signal for my attention. “Max is going to walk around with the camera and show you guys the movie sets and the crowd that’s gathered, and I’ll be back in a flash.” I unclip my mic and Claire whispers in my ear.

“I’ve been told they want to stop and talk to you before anyone else. As a thanks for what you did at Jenny’s yesterday, they insist that you are first.” Claire winks at me.

“Finally! And double friggin’ finally someone believes I can keep a secret.” I exhale with great relief.

“Okay, Alice. Bear in mind they have spent a considerable amount of money setting this into play, and the last thing they need is for this to go sideways.” Claire gives me her, “sexy but still plotting moves ahead” smile.

“But I’m still vetting you, Alice. What are your questions? Two minutes and two questions is what you get on their way to the stage.” Claire punctuates her fingers in a V for my two questions.

TinaBarebackKiss

Between the Limo and the Rope Line – Tina – 3:06 pm

“Babe, does my hand feel too sweaty for you?” I slow my pace and pull Bette back a little from walking toward the crowd.

“Warmer than usual more than anything, but I already know you’re nervous, T.” Bette whispers back through her unwavering smile.

“Do you remember how when I was trying to get pregnant? You would come home after work and sex me up?”

“Sex you up? Oh for the love of God, Tina, really? Are you fucking serious? You’re going to put that in my mind as we head into this thing.” She flashes me a stunned look.

“Well, it’s when we should’ve gotten married, Bette. I should’ve flown to Boston with you like you asked, and not been stubborn about it.”

“Maybe, but we’re doing it finally, and I hope really soon.”

I tug on her arm a little more to slow her down again. “Babe, I need to focus on something other than all these people looking at me. You stand in front of a classroom or a big lecture hall three times a week.”

“Trust me. This really couldn’t be more different.” Bette answers almost in a hiss.

“You have to kiss me like you would on those afternoons, Bette, because I can’t take another step without you.” I squeeze her hand and put her arm around me. “I love you so much, and also I’m a little afraid.”

Bette_Tina Early KIss for flashback

“About marrying me?” Bette asks with an anxiety that creeps in at the corners of her eyes.

“We are going to do it, aren’t we? I mean nothing is going to stop us. Is there?” I ask her.

“No, Baby, nothing is going to stop us,” she whispers before our lips meet and we fly back through the years.

Bette_Laughing studio brother

Engagement Announcement – Alice – 3:06 PM

We all have Rock star fantasies I realize as I watch Bette and Tina step out of their limousine and wave to the crowd. As camera flashes flicker on their faces I know I’d like to be exiting a limo right about now, and taking the stage with Gloria Steinem and her lovely smile. As I push Max with our camera toward Bette and Tina making their turn for the stage, I can absolutely picture it.

“You guys! What’s happening? I was out there at the press conference stage with the camera waiting for you.”

“Change of plans. Claire texted you and all the Press,” Tina answers as the crowd pushes closer. “Everything is moving a little fast for us right now, Alice.”

“Well, I can see that!”

“Hey, Max, are you guys rolling?” Bette asks and he nods that we are.

She turns up the wattage of her smile and holds Tina even closer. “Hello! Everybody we’re joining Alice in Lesbo Land inside the soundstage of Les Girls. I’m Bette Porter, Dean of Arts at California University, and this is Tina Kennard, the movie’s producer. I’m sure you’ve heard about her and the movie, Les Girls, from Alice.” Bette smiles as she looks at Tina.

“Tina’s my fiancée! And we’ve been invited by Alice to make a little Lesbo Land history and announce our wedding engagement to you before anyone else knows about it.” Bette shoots the camera an intriguing look.

Bette turns to Tina again. “Tina’s surprised me with a special guest. The pretty amazing Gloria Steinem is here!”

“Because I know how much you like surprises.” Tina beams back convincingly. “Gloria’s waiting for us, Babe.”

“Alice, no time for questions right now, but come on stage with us.” Bette reaches over and hugs me.

I honestly don’t know what to say to them at this moment so I stammer finally, “I really love you guys.”

Gloria.2 red curtain stage

Stage – Bette – 3:08 PM

As Tina and I wait in the wings by the stairs Gloria begins her speech.

“You know we may feel sometimes that good things take too long in coming. That we wait all too often and far too long for the meaningful changes we work so hard for. That’s so true, isn’t it? We do get weary of waiting, don’t we?” Gloria asks a crowd that responds with whoops and whistles.

She continues, “And yet we can never lose sight of days and moments like this one when we can all come together in celebration of something that’s so right! Legalizing same sex marriages in the State of California!” Gloria’s voice rises as the crowd rejoices and cheers.

“How many couples here this afternoon will get married now that you can?” Gloria asks as the crowd’s noise begins to die down. Then, a unifying cheer comes up as fifty couples raise their hands clasped together. Gloria turns to me and Tina and opens her arms in a warm welcome.

“Bette Porter and Tina Kennard, everyone!” Gloria signals our introductions. “Really great to see you both, and what an exciting day for you, Tina. Your movie sounds like a winner and now you can marry your longtime partner, Bette.” Gloria shakes Tina’s hand and then puts her arm around my waist.

“Bette’s father and I met during the Civil Rights Movement. We did some good behind the scenes work together back then.” Gloria nods at me.

“Daddy was very fond of you, Gloria.” I say not having the slightest idea if it’s true.

“Thank you for having us on stage with you.” I continue. “I was at Tina’s press conference, and I’m so excited for her. And now here you are!” I throw out my hands to present Gloria again to the crowd.

A wave of applause comes back to me. “They tell me that while you’re in town this afternoon you’ve volunteered to help me with something.” I intro our segue.

“As an old friend of your father’s, I’ll do anything I can to help you.” Gloria smiles at me and Tina.

I reach into my jacket pocket and take out the red leather Cartier box with Tina’s engagement ring. I crack it open so only Gloria and the people closest behind her can get a peek inside. She raises her eyebrows and mimes her approval. A collective swell of anticipation sweeps back to us as Tina acts her part – shielding her eyes from the ring, and playfully looking away.

“Tina,” I say seriously to draw her attention back to me while I hide the ring behind my back. “I know as Les Girls’ producer this is a wonderful day for you and the talented cast and crew of people you’ve assembled. And I want to say to you, and Gloria, and everyone out there that I’m so proud of you, and all you’ve done, and will do with your life, and your talent.”

Tina looks shy for a moment and the room grows quieter and much more still. I flash the ring in its box out at the audience again and they cheer me on. Taking a step closer to Tina I show her the ring inside.

“I bought this engagement ring for you, Baby. You do know that I love you with all my heart, don’t you?” I ask with the first catch of tightness and emotion in my voice.

Tina nods her head. I see the love she has for me in her eyes. “Then will you say, “Yes,” that you’ll marry me?” I take her left hand and I slip the ring on her finger. Her chin begins to quiver.

Gloria steps closer to us. “So beautiful, both of you,” she says softly. “And where your father is now, Bette, I’m sure is a place of greater wisdom, and that he’s happy for you both. Especially so for you, Bette.”

“I believe you. I think, I can even feel it.” I whisper back to her then raise my voice. “But Gloria and everybody wait! Tina hasn’t answered me yet.”

I look out at the hundreds of people who now begin to hold their collective breath. Max pans his camera slowly over the crowd. Me, them, Alice, Gloria, the mice that I’m sure live in here somewhere – we all take a deep breath and wait for Tina.

Her chin quivers a second or two more before she lifts up her ring to the crowd and says to me, “Yes, Bette Porter! I absolutely will!”

I send out a big smile of relief, and the crowd celebrates with me. “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss her!” They begin to chant and Gloria nods that she agrees. It just has to be.

I hold Tina close and whisper in her ear. “Baby, you start. Whatever kind of kiss you want I’ll follow. But for the love of God, don’t show them how much we both want a babysitter and to get the hell out of here.”

 

Chapter 5 of TOUCH TONES, the L Word inspired Season 7 will follow shortly. Thank you for reading and let me know how you liked this story.

Thanks always to Jacky at LesFan who hosts us there! You can follow them @LesFan.

@ModernLWord  has a hilarious Twitter feed.

@thelword_FPAGE & @foreverthelword each have great pics, links and amusing thoughts.
You can follow me @Blackbird_Write

Author: Blackbird Writes

Fiction writer and filmmaker

14 thoughts on “#4 Touch Tones: Kryptonite

  1. Wow that is definately a great word to describe Tina. The way you write makes me feel like Im really there. Looking forward to the next chapter. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes!! Great! Tina certainly is Bette’s Kryptonite! I so love them together against the World! Great Chapter – look forward to the next!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. O Blackbird!! That was a really good chapter. You brought it all together. I loved how Kit gave up a little-known history of her relationship with Bette. And how Bette was floundering around til she met Tina.
    The engagement announcement was perfect. I loved the pictures too

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love Kit’s monologue – just like her. The secret teasing between our dynamic duo are perfect. Another great chapter, BB! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh BB,you crack me up! Great post. Thx! Love your writing style. Looking forward to your next update…you’re doing excellent work!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. COMO SIEMPRE CADA HISTORIA SORPRENDE,Y AUNQUE THE L WOR CULMINO,ES COMO SEGUIR VIENDO A ESTAS HERMOSAS DAMAS TODOS LOS DIAS Y SEGUIR VIVIENDO SUS VIVENCIAS,FELICITACIONES Y ESPERO LA SIGUIENTE HISTORIA.

    Like

  7. It was really great chapter. Really, you found the best term, which is characterized by Tina. really apposite.
    I liked Kit’s description of the past. I’m glad that she admitted that her absence also had a role in the development of Bette.
    I’m glad that Tina remembered what the gypsy told her, and she calmed down.
    the announcement was a wonderful moment, and I really liked it.
    I love your talent!
    I look forward to the next chapter.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. First off, thanks for an early update! *two thumbs up*…I like how jittery both of them…but not
    really making the big deal out of it. Love Alice moment…still waiting for what you said to me
    about the Alice part…or? this is it then?…Love what Kit said that Tina is Bette’s Kryptonite!.. Anyway, still waiting where would they go for their honeymoon. .. Looking forward to your next post.

    Like

  9. Adding Gloria Steinem gives realism to the story. Tina is Bette’s #Kryptonite; good use of work.
    Anxious for next chapter.

    Like

  10. Via LesFan bumsue says
    September 11, 2014 at 12:12 am

    Well, first off, I think you did a great job of hearing Kit in your head, The sentence”… I need a lie detector and a seatbelt to roll with these people’, was so spot on with the way Kit would feel about the occasion. These ladies don’t do small bananas.

    I loved her thoughts about being surprised about Bette and Tina, ‘unless I’ve been snapped out of a 3 yr coma, they hate each other. (Sometimes people only show you what they want you to see and sometimes people only see what they want to see.)

    The paragraph that starts with ‘ Just look at us…’ Great paragraph!

    Without Kit being there for her, Bette’s role model was their dad and he walked thru life not paying attention to the standards he set for everybody else. So she became him in female form. The thought that anyone she got too close to would leave anyway must have been so prevalent in the back of her mind constantly. Tina came into her life when she finally realized that that wasn’t her truth anymore.

    Great sentence: Tina was Bette’s Kryptonite. That is so perfect in so many ways.

    Tina was one of few who would call Bette on her shit. The magic of their telepathic communication… someone should sell tickets… Another great line!

    Tina, gnawing uneasiness; feelings that are old and clingy… Well written paragraph punched full of raw emotion.

    I liked that Tina realizes her life has changed without Bette in it. She hasn’t managed Bette’s nerves in a long time. Her nerves being fragile and jangles, from her past life when with her sister, and what has happened the past 3 years with and without Bette.

    Gloria Steinem was a great one to choose for all she represents. I love that Tina is suddenly overwhelmed with everything, as if she didn’t really think through what this announcement really meant > her really marrying and living with Bette again. Were they both really ready for that? It was like they had said the words on the beach to each other but didn’t really listen to or think about what they meant.

    Suddenly Tina doesn’t trust herself with what she said and meant. This is a life-changing moment and does she truly want it, especially being married to and living with Bette again > crazyville all over? She seriously wondered for a moment…

    Tina’s visit to the gypsy broke open her vault of secrets, her own Pandora’s box. Those past memories do have influence, if she let’s them… Its a do or die situation. But she isn’t the only one… The ‘Cold feet’ scenario is finding its way over to Bette. But in her heart of hearts she knows what she wants even if she feels afraid. This risk is the one worth taking.

    Fortunately all the cards are played and our favorite couple know what’s their truth, they’ve finally come full circle, being together being married & being family. They energetically ground each other on their way over to chat with the media, Bette does it superbly. Tina regrets not getting married earlier when Bette wanted to. All the mess could have been avoided, or maybe not. Our mistakes are our greatest teachers. Timing is everything.

    Their honest thoughts come to the foreground. Great kiss scene. ‘Our lips meet and we fly back thru the years… ‘Great line!!! When two people are meant to be, it happens however it does.

    You did fantastic! Yes, I felt I was right there with them. You created a lot of good lines in this one! And they give Alice a great present too! Not exactly what she expected but she was a part of the festivities. Bette did great in speaking in the camera for Alice show and then proposing to her Tina again.

    Wait for it!! Tina hasn’t said yes yet!!!! Everyone is waiting with baited breath! Her chin quivers a second or two more before she lifts up her ring to the crowd and says to me, “Yes, Bette Porter! I absolutely will!”

    TA DA!!!! Excellent work, Blackbird!!! You rock!

    Like

  11. Via LesFan SassyGran says
    September 11, 2014 at 5:58 am

    I cannot add anything to bumsue’s brilliant comment!!

    I do think that Tina being Bette’s Kryptonite will stick though!!!

    Great Chapter in a great new ‘Season’

    Looking forward to more!

    Like

  12. Via LesFan Bibi28 says
    September 11, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Same here, can’t add more to bumsue comment.

    Loved the pictures you put in the story.

    Like

  13. Via LesFan mamadoc91 says
    September 11, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Just brilliant! Your gift of story telling is magnificent! Your media background brings so much richness with direction and illustration. As I have said before, your TLW is so much more of what we all craved and continue to crave from that series. Thank you! I would like to give you 5 stars 100 times over!

    Like

  14. Via LesFan topcat says
    September 10, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Great chapter but for a moment there I thought Tina was going to back out of it,Now can we have jennys reaction and please make it priceless pps.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s