The L Word : Behind the Scenes

The L Word Bette Porter Tina Kennard


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#10 Alice Surmises – Touch Tones – The L Word S07

Bette Tina with Alice

The Planet – Monday morning – Alice

When I look up from the Alice in Lesbo Land blog post I’m struggling to finish before nine I notice how surprised I am to see Bette and Tina walking through the doorway of The Planet on their way in for breakfast. This scene, on the one hand so familiar, and before the unpredictability of their Big Wars years, had happened like clockwork every Monday morning – usually on the nose of 8 am – today feels unusual.

It’s sad but true how their break up and ensuing battles decimated my morning coffee routine, and our poker night “set your watch to it” rituals. And that their “divorce” tore into everything I’d mistakenly thought of as “always and forever”.  I had guilelessly trusted Bette and Tina with the things that were the most important. The fucking wishes I had had. The ones I didn’t even know lived in my dreams – that we could be in love with each other for our whole lives, wear great shoes, and look fabulous doing it.

Add to that it was happening in LA. My hometown! Where I grew up too nervous, and bad at sports, and until I learned how to bang on a guitar I was THE terribly weird looking nerd-girl with glasses. So, yeah I resent that I’m an untreated co-dependent mess, and that their dynamite blew away so many special things for me. Didn’t they think for a minute what the fuck they were doing? To any of us, and to all of us?

For Shane though it was the holidays that left her the saddest. Without all of us seated around a long table, and the predictability that something would always burn up and catch on fire in Bette’s kitchen during Christmas dinner were especially hard on her.

But remarkably, as if back from Lourdes, or in a more exact geographical match: Santa Fe, yet, here they are, as if DEFCON 2 had never happened, and striding in like Lesbian versions of Lazarus fresh out of relationship triage.

I have to admit it: I’m cautiously optimistic about their chances.

After all two words: New Mexico, and another two: Lez Girls, and throw in that it was a trip I still know zero about, but more to the point: There’s nothing like the ongoing production of a movie written by a nutcase, and veiled in its depiction of your regurgitated love life that a weekend away might lead to something meaty, but poisoned that they could stew over while hiking around some godforsaken canyon.

Yet, here they are, the quasi-starring couple,  seemingly unfazed by the movie’s menacing gestalt. Maybe Claire’s strategy, and the part I expertly played in it, really has run Jenny into the ditch for a while. When she crawls back out of it I hope she’ll give us all a fucking break and get her own fucking life.

But lingering are the threats Kit got while Bette was away. Another ramp up in the territorial disputes let loose by those trashy girls from the SheBar.

Jenny smooching camera

You know, if I could figure out how to sic Schecter onto Denbo, which would insure me a ringside seat, the ensuing blog posts and traffic on my website would take off! The Steinem/Porter/Kennard clip soared past a hundred thousand hits last week. I know I could get really top notch sponsors with millions of hits. All I need is for Jenny, The Serpent, to coil around Dawn, The Lezzie Mobster’s neck, and Alice in Lesbo Land will chronicle the drama and hilarity of them killing each other.

While lacking merit in the classical sense, I think it has interesting possibilities.

But truthfully, it’s odd how those pre-Bette and Tina nuclear war days feel like their own special era now. A time when things felt more predictable, back when we all knew Iraq was total bullshit, and that with certainly someone high up in Bush’s Cabinet would go off to jail. And yet, we were mistaken.

Back when there were happier times, and we knew that Dana would win all her tennis matches, but in the meantime between tournaments keep us wildly amused with her sexual confusion, and her notoriously impotent GayDar. And on those mornings, too, just like clockwork, we could count on it: Shane coming in close to death until a triple expresso shocked away most of the roughness from her nights before.

Hand to God! I don’t know how we all survived much less remained friends. Their ongoing hostilities, all our disappointments, Dana’s death, Shane and Carmen, everyone’s lies, and the plentiful fuck you’s we vehemently traded with each other – they all seem gone now, forgotten, or miraculously healed.

Maybe we’re all chiseled together in some – as yet to be discovered – magical rock formation that’s mysteriously fated us all cosmically together. Or is it Jenny’s movie, aka Tina’s movie, aka Bette’s nightmare and ulcer that will enshrine us, and make us all legendary?

I’m just like everybody else in Tinseltown. I’m somebody waiting to be famous.

But Lez Girls might be a hit! The story has all the earmarks, signs, and red light signals of an eruption waiting to happen. The movie could go straight up like a rocket or fall into the Bermuda Triangle – never to be seen or heard from again.

Set actors Lez Girls

But I’d like it to succeed, and I also wouldn’t mind a walk-on part. But mostly, I need to find a way to sneak onto Tina’s closed sets so I can make damn sure Elise, my character, isn’t bombing as Alice.

Kit Vertical standing at window smile

Back up front I see that Kit has joined Bette and Tina now, and is making a fuss over missing Angelica for the two days she was away with her parents in Santa Fe. Kit takes her hand and they walk slowly behind the counter back to Kit’s office for a visit. Bette orders her and Tina’s breakfast – the likes of which she knows by heart – and Tina’s attention is taken up by a couple who have approached. Lawyers, I guess by their dark tailored suits.

Bette’s amperage begins, and I feel it as far away as my table. I wonder about my carping away at her for so many years. I did it with so little mercy. Prodded at her bear-like fury knowing soon the veins would pop out of her neck, and get up and dance with the scary blue curvy ones that pound at her temple.

Bette frustrated Hand on Chest color corrected

After all, to most everyone Bette Porter is kind of a legion, and they’d love to be her friend, swim in her pool, get drunk on her sex appeal, and laugh at her wit and sophisticated sarcasm.

No, better strike that – in her own field she’s too young to be legendary, but in the OurChart underground universe I can attest to the fact: She’s discussed. Tina, too, of course – they each have devoted fans.

For awhile the fact that they blindly ignored my fascinating new experiment into West Hollywood independent “Current Happenings” journalism used to irritate the crap out of me. It wasn’t until one of their semi-public flame-outs, and I stayed up half the night reading the hundreds of comments about them, that I knew other people had been hurt and confused, too. As once perfect symbols of something other gay women aspired to, I came to realize: Bette and Tina had disappointed far more than just me.

Somehow the details of their latest debacle would always get out, and almost to the word I knew if I were ever challenged I could blame all the leaks and mischief about them on Jenny, my god-gifted scapegoat. It helped me sleep at night anyway.

Jenny has, and no doubt will continue to be, very good for business. Not that Bette’s stopped her incessant ire long enough to think about it, but Jenny’s script turned into Tina’s movie will likely bring her well over a million dollars. That is if it doesn’t sink, but can swim. Or better yet – like the wild motherfucker “we” need it to be – takeoff and fly into the box office. Because if it does that we might all get rich.

I’m just saying.

It’s not my fault they make great copy, or that Tina used to sleep with a beguiling heiress named Helena, after her “to die for” Bette, to quote a frequent poster, had slipped off with the carpenter. That single, and I’m sure in Bette’s mind far from a class-oriented sexual decision, has ignited my blog with years and years of false hopes that Bette might once again lose her mind, and her morals, and slip down to lie again – amongst the lesbian proletariat.

At times I could have sworn I was more upset by their separation than they were, but I wasn’t dating a Peabody heiress, or a renown sculptor, or an Ad Man named Henry, or a carpenter known as Candace, who was sometimes referred to in code between me and Shane simply as Hell’s Beginnings.

I sigh sadly. It’s so true. The sight of them together again makes me miss the good old days. The ones I had no idea were even happening when my morning’s fleeting nostalgia suddenly dissipates, and I feel once more how incredibly pissed off I am at Tasha. Going on for three days now it’s unbelievable to me! Tasha and her over righteous, loftier than mine ethics can go fuck themselves in some faux ethical faux fuck-fucking place.

And just like a fool I’d bought into it! Nodded yes that her “core values” were so much better than mine. Then, it hits me. Tasha’s a Republican. She’s going to “earnestly” fuck me over.

God! I feel my eyes burning and then, they suddenly water and relax because here are Tina and Bette ordering breakfast, and I realize I’m dying to hear all about their mysterious weekend in Santa Fe. My gloomy depression immediately lifts.

“Alice!” Bette starts toward me before Tina catches her attention, again.

“Babe, Lis and Marilyn saw us on stage with Gloria, and have decided to get married, too. They’ve been together twenty years.”

And of course, up comes Tina’s hand so they can all admire her enormous engagement ring, and Bette beams another thousand watt smile at their new friends. It’s then that I realize – she’s either a masterful or very lucky sailor who’s managed to swing their bow back around, and once again, skillfully catch the sails with the wind.

Bette Laughing with2 woman

I find myself in awe as Tina’s ring flashes, and I witness their complete transformation from a month ago. I am mystified. How does anyone make any relationship work? I was certain they were done for.

CU Tina's ring

Finally, Tina makes her way over to me as the “order ready” bell dings, and Bette goes back to the counter to pick up their breakfast. “Alice! You look great this morning.” Tina smiles and looks incredibly relaxed.

Tina_small_picture CU

“Thanks! And you’re good after your weekend in Santa Fe? I love Santa Fe. I mean I really love Santa Fe. Maybe next time when you …” I drift when I realize I’m being too needy.

“Oh! They’ll definitely be a next time. We’re having a wedding party in a barn at the place we stayed. Bette took pictures.”

“A barn?!” I start off cross. “But Helena and I are planning your party!”

“Different party, Alice. At this one, you don’t have to do a thing. Just come and have a good time. Bette’s getting everyone Winnebagos to stay in – something like the movie trailers.”

“Winnebagos? Seriously? And here I imagined you all weekend in a great posada. Getting spa treatments or whatever.”

Tina calls over her shoulder, “Bette, come tell Alice about the barn and show her the pictures you took.”

Maxine's barn wedding party - before

“Hey, Bette.” I smile at her, take her iPhone, and begin to flip through pictures of a decrepit barn.

Tina leans into my shoulder and points, “Along the wall that you can’t see are nailed up rattlesnake skins – that I don’t even want to think about – and we’re definitely throwing a big piece of drapery over that whole area.”

“Okay, I’ve seen enough. This won’t work.”

“No, it will, Alice,” Bette takes her phone back, “as long as it’s not raining. There are a few pretty big holes in the roof of my mother’s barn, but in the desert they get maybe a thimble full of rainfall a year, if that.”

“We’re having a party in a barn.” Tina agrees.

“Thimbles of rain, huh? Sounds like a bad song title, but that’s not the only problem.” Resolute I look over my coffee cup and try to stare them down. Then, I frown. “Wait. Who’s barn did you say that was? And what were you two doing in Santa Fe, anyway?”

“Alice, something unexpected has happened.” Bette manages between wolfing big bites of her spinach omelet. I honestly don’t know how she does it and stays so slim.

“Like what?” I ask skeptically, unsure if I can take any more big surprises.

“We had to check it out first, Alice. Before we told anyone.” Bette cautions.

“Oh God! No! You’re moving away to Santa Fe, aren’t you?” I cry back at them, “Tasha dumped me – I know you called it – the third wheel thingy with Jamie. Fuck it, fuck it!”

“Jesus Christ! Alice! Calm down, I’m sorry about you and Tasha. I liked her.” Bette looks at Tina for her read, “We liked her, didn’t we?”

“Yes, the until recently reconvened “We” did.” Tina assures her. “Alice, I’m sorry. When did this happen?”

“Friday night that bled into a very fucked up Saturday.” I feel Bette studying me while she eats, and I look away from them for a moment. I know they wanted to institutionalize me the last time I had a nasty break-up. I realize I was saved from being tied to a bed and shot up with blue-colored drugs because with a new baby they simply didn’t have the time to commit me.

But they have time now. Unless, of course, they’re moving to Santa Fe. Dammit, I would really hate that, but I really don’t want to go into the psych hospital either.

“Well, I take back all my liking of Tasha. She’s persona non grata to me now.” Bette slices her hand to show me: Tasha’s toast.

“Babe, Alice is probably still in love with her.” Tina shakes her head at Bette, and then with a probing look to me. “But Alice, are you, okay? You look fine, but are you?”

“I’ll be fine. I’m fine today. Actually, when you came in I became fine. How long can you stay? God, I hate it that you’re moving to New Mexico.”

“Moving?” Bette looks quizzically at me before finishing off her bagel. “I’m lost.”

“Alice, are you mixing anxiety and depression-type pills again?” Tina looks down inside my purse, but doesn’t reach for it.

“I took a sleeping pill last night. I’m not the problem! Who came up with the idea of this barn Hoedown, anyway?”

Bette_Planet Jpeg

“Alice, don’t be negative. And I can’t talk to you about this if you’re on the verge of going crazy.” Bette looks away from me and locks eyes with Tina, “Too risky.”

“Don’t shut me out! Wait! What?” I object as Bette gets up from the table.

She tucks a five-dollar bill under her plate. “Alice, I’ll check in on you later. I’m headed to work.” She leans into kiss Tina. “T, I’m going back to Kit’s office. Time to pry her away from our daughter, who I know I’m taking her to daycare, but are you picking her up, or am I?”

“You’re picking her up because I’ve got a long shoot day. We could wrap by six, but then again.”

“No problem. I don’t even want to think about it.” She walks away then turns back to Tina, “But I know you’ll do a great job, and I want you to enjoy making your movie. I really do.”

Tina winking Bette color corrected

They share a look before Tina focuses back to me. “Alice, we’re not moving anywhere. You jumped the gun on that, as well as the barn. With some festive attention it’s going to be a cool place for a party. And a word of advice?”

“Go ahead.” I drop my chin and stare into my lap.

“On the topics of Santa Fe and Winnebagoes, Hoedowns and Barbecues, remain positive or expect trouble.” Tina jerks her head toward Bette turning the corner that leads back to Kit’s office.

“Okay. I got it.” I nod as Tina’s frown softens.

I lean in closer to her. “Forget all that though – what’s the story with Bette’s boots?”

CU Bette's boots Blood Moon story

Exterior – The Planet – Bette

As Angelica and I amble to my car I hear a woman’s voice calling my name. It sounds far enough away that if I’m quick about buckling Angelica into her carseat I can probably speed away before another morning entanglement begins. My need to get to work – to a place where the thoughts of my unusual weekend with my mother will run quieter in the background of my mind – is beginning to enter the Red Zone.

It was an incredible weekend. One that I’m beginning to pick apart for more and more hidden meanings and this can only mean one thing. I’m heading into obsession. Never a good place for me.

“Bette!” The woman’s voice is now much closer. I turn around to see Phyllis’ daughter, Molly Kroll, nearly on top of me. God, she’s nearly as tall as I am.

“Molly!” I fake my enthusiasm. “What finds you in this part of town, or even in town? Why aren’t you in school?”

“Something my Dad asked me to go to with him is later tonight. Normally, Mother would go.” Molly says dismissively. “I was hoping to ask you a question. Your sister owns the place across the street, right?”

“Kit does, yes.” Relieved mine was such an easy answer. “Glad I could clear that up. Now, I’m on my way to work.”

“Mind if I ride with you?”

“With me? To the university?”

“Yes, I mean if you don’t mind. I should probably see my mother while I’m in town.”

“Hop in.” I say as steady as I can. “I drop Angelica off near campus.”

Shane_reading paper serious look

The Planet – Tina

Shane slides into an empty seat at the table with me and Alice, and opens her paper. “How was Santa Fe? You and Bette have a good time?”

“Did you think we were moving to Santa Fe?” I ask.

“No, why? Are you moving to Santa Fe? That’s kind of sudden, isn’t it?”

“Not moving to Santa Fe. Alice said something. I’m just taking a poll.”

“Poll away, I guess. Any other questions?” Shane drifts back to her paper.

“Why would Phyllis’ daughter be getting into Bette’s car?”

“Molly?” Shane looks up. “Is outside?”

“Was. Now they’re gone. What’s she doing way over here in West Hollywood at eight-thirty in the morning? Did you sleep with her last night?”

“Ha! Now, that’s funny.” Shane dips her paper down to peer at me.

“Maybe not sleeping with, but spying on Shane is my guess,” Alice suggests. “And you really should not encourage her, Shane, or you’ll get a very mean phone call from Bette like I did when I “dated” Phyllis.

“Or from Phyllis – no make that both of them,” I add my warning.

“Or both them and Joyce,” Alice emphasizes with a scary tone.

“Honestly, guys I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve barely talked to the girl. She’s a college student, right?”

“A straight Graduate student to be exact.” I nod at Alice, and we look expectantly over at Shane.

She shrugs nonchalantly. “Look, I’ve just seen her around the set with you guys. No biggie.”

La Cienega Boulevard – Bette

Molly looking seductive

“Angie, are you alright back there?”

“Momma B, go fast again to school!”

“Ah,” I stammer and look over at Molly. “We don’t ever go over the speed limit.”

She smiles. “Mother’s completely not expecting me. I’m in no rush.”

“And we’re in no rush.” I stress as I look back at Angelica who’s innocently gazing out the window now.

Molly clears her throat as I pull into traffic. “So, I saw somewhere that you’re getting married, but not to Jodie Lerner I take it.”

“No, definitely not to Jodie, but to Tina. You met her on the movie set a few weeks ago.”

“I did. She seemed nice. How long have you known her? I take it longer than a few weeks.”

“A respectable length of time. Trust me.” I think how much more to tell her. “Angelica is our baby. We were together back … well, Angelica’s almost three, and for years before she was born.”

“So, Jodie was what? An intermission? Mother talked like you two were serious.”

“Oh, Molly. I really can’t talk about that. It’s over. Pick another topic.”

“Okay, here’s one. Tell me about Shane. She’s working on the picture that’s apparently about you, and I’m putting it together now, you and Tina?”

I can’t stop an exasperated sigh before it escapes for Molly’s amusement.

“So, I’m right.”

I feel the sides of my neck growing warmer then hotter. “No! You’re not right!” I vent. “A foolish neighbor of ours wrote it. The script is about a couple. Yes!” I make a checkmark in the air between us. “Who live in West Hollywood – like tens of thousands of others gay women do – and the couple is trying to have a baby. That’s it for similarities.” I dash my hand toward Molly.

Then I guide my tone of voice down off the ledge. “The story is about a young straight woman who gets seduced by an older European woman, and she breaks up with her midwestern boyfriend…”

Molly interrupts, “That I can understand.”

When we stop at a traffic light I continue, “…thinking she’s found her Great Love in the alternate universe of gay West Hollywood. That’s absolutely not my story. I would have never done such a thing.”

“But it’s set in The Planet that your sister owns. You go there all the time, and it’s Shane’s roommate’s script? And they live next door to you.”

“What is this? Lesbian GPS? Look, I told you already. It’s a story about Jenny.” I press my hands earnestly against my chest to emphasize. “That’s what I’m explaining.”

“But Shane’s in it?”

“Molly, listen to me. Shane’s not an actress. Shane’s working on the movie.”

“The movie Tina is producing. Yeah, I got that much. So you and Shane and Tina are not in this movie?”

“Correct. Don’t believe everything you hear, Molly.  Especially at CU, but especially CU. It’s is an  fetid little place for rumors, and …” I stop myself suddenly.

“Gossip about my mother?”

“Molly, probably. Yes. People are probably talking about your mother – now that she’s come out.”

“Is that typically what lesbians do Bette, when you guys come out? I mean, Mother throws a big party, and her guests respond by taking off their bras in a conga line around our pool. Is that normal? I mean is that coming out?”

“Molly, I was only there a short time.” I flashback to my grateful reunion with Tina, and how we sped away from Phyllis’ fireworks for some long awaited ones of our own.

Molly jars me back to the present. “Well, obfuscate all you want, Bette. I’m certain you’ve seen plenty of women come out.”

I sigh feeling cornered. “It’s painful mostly. But unavoidable if you don’t want to go insane.”

“Full disclosure for this line of questioning – I’m rethinking my mother’s coming out. That’s all. We left it … actually, I left things very raw between us.”

“I’m sure Phyllis will welcome a calmer discussion about it.”

“Hopefully, there will be no more yelling.” Molly raps her knuckles against the window and gazes outside. “Mother has a high flashpoint.”

“That I’ve noticed, too.” We smile in agreement. The mood in the car lifts.

Then, out of the blue Molly says, “Bette, I’m interested in Shane. Tell me about her.”

“What?! Oh, God, you can’t be serious! Your boyfriend’s in law school, like you are, too. Right?”

“A boring boyfriend who’s going into corporate law with his father in Maryland. They just bought a massive golf course. Think about that for a second.”

“I am.” We ride along for a few more minutes. Molly shifts in her seat. I prepare myself for more probing.

“Shane’s a friend of yours, an old friend, right?”

I pull over in front of Angelica’s daycare, “Molly, let me think of how to say this as clearly as I can, because I’ve already read between the lines of what you are insinuating.”

The car jolts as I throw it into park. “Do not pursue this. It’s a very bad idea. Shane is categorically not a beginner’s Starter Kit.”

I open the door to fetch Angelica out of her car seat. “In fact, for a nice girl like you, she’d be a catastrophe.” And then with horror I watch as a sly smile creeps across Molly’s face.

___________

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Bette’s Cooking Lesson

Kit_vertical shot

The Planet – Alice

Shane and I walk into The Planet for a mysterious “emergency” meeting called by Bette, I see something I’ve never seen before – Bette and Kit back in the kitchen. It’s appears they are cooking. This gives me pause.

“Lil Sister has brought a bushel basket of muddy ass kale up in here and dumped it all over my counters.” Kit fusses in that singing way she has, while giving me a look that says, “Help!”

I shy away from the piles of greens to be washed. “I don’t know. Where’d all the mud come from?”

Bette hooks a red apron around my neck and points me back to the sink.  “That’s how it grows, Alice, in the earth.”

“I don’t like kale, guys. It’s a fad. Okay? Just saying.” I tie back my apron. I haven’t worn one of these since that naughty role playing bit I did with Dana. She was the organic grower from the co-op farm . . .well, on second thought I could be convinced to like kale.
Shane Med shot Blue shirt

“Hey guys!” Shane saunters in and puts my beer on the shelf above the sink. My hands are submerged in darkening gritty water, and Bette continues to dump clump after muddy clump of greens into the sink. Looking over my shoulder at Shane I give her my best, ‘Run for your life!’ look but Bette’s too fast for me.

“You know how to cook?” Bette drops an apron over Shane’s neck and trusses her second hostage. Well, at least I’ll have company.

“Yes! Yes, I do know how to cook.” But I can tell she’s trying to think of what cooking really means in Bette’s current state of mind. Does it mean heating something up? Does it mean from scratch? Does it apply to Shane’s Alice B. Toklas Brownie Recipe?

Does Kit – God forbid – need us to actually cook something for the dinner menu tonight?

“Excellent!” Bette seems almost manic, as she finishes knotting Shane’s apron with a flair. Where’s Jodie? Supposedly, she’s an excellent cook.

Kit lifts up a checkered towel and rolled into a nice sized ball is fresh pizza dough. “Sis, the sourdough’s all done.”

Shaking off my hands I dry them on my apron. “Kale pizza?” I make a face.

Bette_Kitchen

“No, the kale is for green lemonade. Different subject, Alice.” Bette opens the lid to a deep red tomato sauce bubbling over a flame.

“This is all because of me. Lil Sis has got in her head ’cause the Doc told me I’ve got to watch my weight, and my cholesterol and what else?”

“Your blood sugar, Kit.” Bette says over her shoulder.

“Right, right. You know what?” Kit begins to hum a bluesy riff. “Blood sugar, umpf umpf. Blood sugar, my sugar umpf, yay-yay, umpf. I’m liking it. That would make a damn good tune.” She sways with her eyes closed lost to her musical reverie, and I notice for the moment that Bette lets her be.  I wish I knew how to sing.

Standing in the middle of the kitchen Bette takes a poll of her prisoners. “So, I don’t know how to cook; Kit doesn’t either. Alice?”

“Latkes? Do they count?” I offer hopefully, still not sure what Kit’s medical news has to do with kale.

“Chili. I can make Texas chili.” Shane pitches in her native dish.

Being in a kitchen hot or otherwise makes me thirsty. I swig down my beer. “Bette, what can you make? I’m getting the feeling here we’re all one note players.”

Bette tea ColorCorrected_nice muscles

“My specialty is actually breakfast.”

Shane nods her head, “I can see that. I bet you’re good at it. Flowers on the tray? A little sweet present inside a dish? A few more surprises to follow?”

“Okay, okay! We get the picture. Let’s move Bette’s morning along.” I wave at Shane to keep quiet while I try to figure out what’s going on in Bette’s mind.

“So, what I’m seeing here is you’ve got breakfast covered. Shane’s got chili. That could be lunch or dinner. I’ve got latkes so I’m of no help except during Jewish holy days. Sorry. But Kit’s improved our chances of survival with pizza.” I add it all up to something that makes no sense to me.

“The entire population of humans under thirty would be dead without pizza.” Shane looks around for agreement as to the pizza pie’s life saving qualities.

“Shane’s right. Without pizza the tech empire would crumble. No Internet!” I shout, suddenly alarmed at the thought.

“Doesn’t matter! We’re learning how to cook, so we can be healthier and live longer.”

“Wait! I thought that’s what sushi was for?” Shane says seriously.

“Eating fucking fishing bait. You realize you people are crazy?” Kit snorts.

Much later that night –

wolf_onRidge

Bette’s bedroom – Bette

In my dream it’s morning and an omelet is browning in a skillet. I rush in from the garden with cut flowers, and I turn off the gas flame and slide the perfectly browned cheesy egg dish onto a plate.

I hear Tina’s voice. “Babe, can you bring in a bowl of strawberries, too? And why won’t you let me get up? I feel like I should help.”

“You haven’t wiggled free of your ropes yet, have you?” I ask playfully walking into our bedroom with her breakfast tray.

Popping a strawberry into her mouth Tina says, “Like I’m ever letting you do that to me.”

I lean in to kiss her, but she’s involved in munching. Well, it’s the thought that counts.

“We’re splitting this, right? You’re having most of this omelet, Bette. This is huge.”

Lying down my robe falls open, and she runs her hands down to my belly and scratches me like a beast. I sigh contentedly.  “Nope, all yours. I’m just going to lie in your lap and watch you eat it.”

My view up to her face is through the foreground of her breasts. A beautiful view of the woman I’m in love with on this Sunday morning, as she lightly scratches parts of me awake.  I chew the berry she pops in my mouth, and sigh contentedly some more.

omelet-1egg

It’s very true that women appreciate breakfast in bed. They like it on a tray. They like it pretty and they like it hot. The heat shows effort I’ve come to understand, and it makes them happy. Because of this discovery of mine, over time I’ve become a master chef of omelets. No one can trump me. And as the old adage says, “It’s all in the wrist.” So true for breakfast food and hopefully what follows. That flexible joint is key.

“Bette, here open your mouth. This is too good.” Tina slides a bite past my lips. It’s gooey and warm. The cheese I selected, perfect. Everything on a Sunday morning like today is foreplay. I reach up and circle her nipple with my fingertips. All night her body was mine and for hours we’d played on the fiery edges of possession. I lean up and suck on her nipple, when she brings another bite of breakfast to my lips.

“Not so fast.” She presses under my chin.

“If I help you eat this, will you do something for me?” I take a sip of coffee.

“You have a habit of asking these open-ended questions, Bette, as if you think I’ll ever fall for them.”

“Did you ever read Zap comics, any stories about, the Checkered Demon?” I ask.

“A comic book? No, I don’t read comic books. Do you?”

“Okay, well you missed something crazy and pretty great. See there was this demon frog in the story, Tina. The Checkered Demon, and when he wasn’t killing bad guys he was this great stud fuck kind of a demon. It was either, Star-Eyed Stella or Ruby the Dyke, who taunted him when he was boasting about his fucking abilities and one ’em said, “I bet I could lay under you all day, eat fried chicken, and do my nails all at the same time.”

“I’m so confused.” Tina leans back with her coffee balanced on her chest. “So, you actually read comic books?”

“These were extraordinary comic books, Tina. But the point is, I’ll eat the rest of the omelet, and leave you half the toast, and all the strawberries, if after breakfast you’ll try to give yourself a manicure. Let’s see how far you get.”

“So you’re going for beating the record of a frog demon? You want me to play Star-Eyed Stella, or what was the other one?”

“Well, you have actually have three to chose from. I neglected to mention, Lady Coozette and then there’s, Ruby the Dyke.”

“I’m Lady Coozette.”

“So perfect.” I smile as Tina gets sold on the idea.

“Anything else I should know?”  She hands me a glass of water from her nightstand.  “Jesus, Bette, don’t eat so fast.”

“Well, there is the matter of the length of this demon’s tongue.”

“Hmm. Lady Coozette is ready.”  She opens the drawer and takes out her nail polish, “I bet I can get a whole hand done, maybe more.”

“I’ll bet you three fingers, tops.”

“Bette, you have crumbs on your face.”

“Sorry,” I brush my chin, as I move away the breakfast tray. “Not for long.” I lie between her legs and hear her shaking the polish.

I begin to a lovely tempo as a lusty verse from D. H. Lawrence’s fig poem floats through my mind.

Folded upon itself, enclosed like any Mohammedan woman,
Its nakedness all within-walls, its flowering forever unseen,
One small way of access only, and this close-curtained from
the light;

Tina breaks into the verse of the poem running through my mind. “Oh, dear God.” But I keep my tongue to its focus, moving deeper into her concentration, and now, she’s opening just for me.

“Bette, you have to stop. You never make love to me so fast. I’m not sure I like it.”

“No.” I shake my head, as I take a deep breath.

Fig, fruit of the female mystery, covert and inward,
Mediterranean fruit, with your covert nakedness,

“Sweet Jesus. I don’t know what you’re doing.” Tina takes my curls in her hands and grabs the back of my neck. She pushes herself deeper up the length of my tongue. I can only smile inside, my lips and mouth are otherwise engaged.

Where everything happens invisible, flowering and fertilization, and fruiting.

I replay a circular licking tempo over and over. It’s one of her favorites, and when, I feel she’s there, I slowly slip my fingers out from her.

In the inwardness of your you, that eye will never see
Till it’s finished, and you’re over-ripe, and you burst to give
up your ghost.

“Oh, for Christsake! Please come up here and fuck me. I give up. I promise you, I give up.”

“So, the Checkered Demon wins?” I ask lying on top of her.

Bette's Tongue.2 on top

“Bette, God, you’re insane and I love you. Yes, the Checkered Demon wins!”

“I love you to, Baby. Is this what you want?”

“I didn’t even get past one finger!” She holds me as we kiss. “This is a rigged game the way you play, isn’t it?”

“How can you say that? Everybody, absolutely everybody wins.” I sigh as she slides down deeper onto my fingers. She looks at me while we make love. In her eyes I see myself in a tiny reflection before each one of her blinks.

My dream changes.

white wolf growl moonlight

Running through a field with each sprint I have wolf paws that claw into the earth. But who’s chasing me? I feel my breathing, now so ragged, as I crest a hill and try to break through a thicket of thorns. They wrap themselves around my legs and scratch into me as fight them for freedom.

A massive tangle of iron and parts of houses and cars, and the broken detritus of people’s lives swing from cables in a massive sculpture that hangs between the forest trees. I leap onto a platform inside the sculpture and spin fast around to see what’s following me.

On a slow spinning cylinder of shiny metal I see words and curious symbols engraved into it. What does it say? Stop spinning! What does it say? I stretch my neck up to see and out from my throat comes a wolf’s howling that sounds like a cry that awakens me drenched in sweat.

I lie in bed and rub my chest to steady and calm my breath.

My house is too quiet and my panting unnerves me.  I remember bad dreams after my mother left. I had them for years and searching for her all night long became what I did. Over and over again it happened. When I closed my eyes at night I hunted for her.

Goddammit! Why does this keep fucking happening to me? I think I give them everything they want but they still leave. This one’s not doing that. She’s not leaving me without a fucking word as to why. She can’t. Jodi, you can’t. I love you and I’m going to find you and make you come back. If Tina won’t come home then, you sure as hell will.

I roll over and push the pillows around. I’m tired of all this abandoning bullshit. This rotating door in my heart is ridiculous and painful and I’m about fucking finished with letting this happen to me again. I was happy with Jodi. Yes, she was a pain in the ass, but she was here and she’d started to be mine.

And punch the pillows again, I’m going to find her – wherever she is – and bring her back to me.

____________

TheChariot
28. A Drink with the Gypsy     http://wp.me/p4AUvc-7W

Tina panics and returns to the Gypsy for more insight, and she leaves with a powerful plan.

The L Word, Bette Porter, Tina Kennard, The L Word, Bette Porter, Tina Kennard, The L Word, Bette Porter, Tina Kennard, The L Word, Bette Porter, Tina Kennard, The L Word, Bette Porter, Tina Kennard,


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A Taste for Politics Bette Porter L Word

BettePortrait_FAB and backlite

A Taste for Politics

As I walk through the parking lot my thoughts are far above me on a rooftop just past the trees off to my right, and a lifetime ago in a shed filled with sea breezes and the taste of salt on Tina’s neck. My tongue I realize is lonely. Its urges unnerving to me.

People talk about the wholeness and peace gained in mindfulness as a person moves toward integration with The Self. That knowing all of the parts of ourselves is somehow a more evolved state of mind. Let me say this to them: If I were to spend any more time in my looking glass of memories in the basement of my mind I would shatter completely and it would not be pretty.

It would not be a break or the mental snap that led me to murderous thoughts with a Bowie knife after Tina and Henry threatened to take my child away. It would not be like the disassembling meltdown that left my throat sore for hours after I screamed her name when she left me the first fucking time. It would be closer to the devastating strike on 9/11 in Manhattan as the spines of the towers collapsed into clouds of toxic screaming rubble.

I feel a sickness inside me. I was in New York that morning. I remember the chaos and unearthly panic as the hot smelling dust of them blew up Broadway and chalked us all white. It left me inches away from insanity, an experience impossible to wash away.

No, I would find a crooked Zen moment and walk in front of a bus. Wholeness would break me. I know too much already.

Fuck! I’m lonely and pissed off. It’s cruel that on this important night of my life Tina is nowhere to be found. So fucking typical of everything, including this impossible unraveling.

But my tongue, my most valuable antenna, is impossibly devious and largely unruly by nature, and now I must deal with its dangerous thirsts for Coeds. What else can it hunger for? And what at the party – within ten minutes of getting my there – can I possibly find to slake its thirst?

I’m roused from my lascivious self-pity when I see Arnold’s long black limo and security entourage – guarding him front and back – drive through campus toward me. But wait, those aren’t the golden bear flags of the State of California. I stop walking. The limo pulls along side me. The window slides down with a whoosh.


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Low Hanging Fruit – Bette Porter Tina Kennard L Word

Bette_thoughtful Looking down

Tina’s Apartment – Alice

I pretty much told Bette and Tina both – a few days after we returned from Canada and Shane’s botched wedding, Bette’s botched kidnapping, and Helena’s frozen bank accounts – that I was waving my “friend’s with both of them” white flag, and to please stop shouting around me. My parents yelled for years and years, and Bette and Tina are starting to resemble them. And those aren’t good memories for me.

When I had unfortunately run into them at The Planet during a baby exchanging exercise fraught with unnecessary tension I had raised my voice at them. “What do you guys do? Stew overnight? Make up more shit to yell at each other about the next morning?

“Think about it! Why do you show up here every day for coffee if you fucking hate each other so much? Just a thought, but really: Get a clue.”

In character Bette had stormed off. Tina had done this new ‘I just give up’ move of hers. Something she must have picked up out in the suburban wilds. She had tossed both her hands up only to smack them down on top of her thighs. And then, The Look, as if I were not already convinced she was clueless.

Man, they are getting on my nerves. Long ago I had guessed their numbers, and I’m about there – at the end of my dirt road of patience with them both.

Bette and I used to date for about five minutes – she thinks, but for me I was smitten, and trying not to show it because clearly she wasn’t with me. We had fun. We went out to a lot of great parties. She was and still is a great dinner companion because she isn’t fussy about food.

Dating someone who’s picky about their dinners, and turns their nose up and orders everything, “on the side” can be it’s own horrible limo ride and entourage to hell and back. And in an overindulged, pamper queen town like this – my money is on waiters being huge abusers of Xanax – an educated guess – but in a number of unexpected ways Bette can be uncomplicated.

One example: When our waiter would materialize Bette would ask about the chef’s special, and unless it was Brussels Sprouts or some indecipherable puree – she would order it without ever looking at the menu. On those evenings she gave me a feeling that there were so many more interesting things to do with her time at the table with me than, and I quote, “Try to interpret the silly ways nouveau cuisine was attempting to explain itself this week.”

And sex with her was – I’m going to have to come back to that because I’m actually blushing standing in Tina’s kitchen thinking about a certain night with her ex-lover before they ever knew each other.

TinaTakesEarring

And I introduced them! Well, sort of. I think what I did more than anything was cause my own bit of mischief at the dinner party. Then Tina had looked down the table at us. I remember Bette throwing back her head to laugh at something clever I’d said, and then when the joke was over she’d glanced down the table to see how her guests were fairing. That was the moment their eyes had locked and something interesting and not invisible between them had happened.

In my mind their game is long from over. They love each other too much, and now they hate each other too much, and while I’m thinking about it two days ago they had given me a fucking headache by 9 am. So, I had yelled at them, and since then they’ve been quieter around me.

But at the moment Tina is definitely stuck on stupid again. She slams her kitchen cabinets after hanging up the phone with Bette. I gather today’s meltdown is already beginning. What restraint! It’s ten fifteen. They waited an hour.

“So, I guess she told you about her big event tonight with Arnold, The Governator, he’s coming down here to give her some big arty award.” I say to mollify Tina that Bette does have other things to do today than make her life a living hell.

“No, but that must be why she wanted to switch Angelica’s night with me.” Tina fusses with the tea bags and cups. “What award?”

“So, you haven’t seen today’s LA Times?”

“Just tell me, Alice. I’ve been up for hours, but not pouring over the newspaper. I can’t sleep well all of a sudden. Angelica didn’t want to go to daycare. She wanted to go riding in the car with Mama B.” Tina blows her hair back from her face. “So, no. I’ve not read today’s Art Section.”

“Well, she’s on the front page actually, so it’s impressive. Nice picture of Bette, naturally. Some big idea and program she’d convinced Phyllis and the Board of Governors to fund, and it just so happens to be a pet project of Governor Schwarzenegger’s. So, it’s a big deal for her, and there’s a cocktail reception tonight. Then, the article says Bette’s having dinner with the Governor.”

“Hm.” Is all I hear Tina say in return. Phyllis has filled me in completely on anything I want to know about the workings of her university.

“Hey, while you make the tea I’m just going to slip in your lavatory for a sec, okay?”

“Of course, Alice, I’m just furious right now with her, and I know you don’t want to hear about it.”

“Well, maybe for a second, but I’ve got something in my contact lens.”

Inside the bathroom I dig around in my purse. If I found last week’s turkey and avocado sandwich I would not be surprised it’s such a wreck inside my handbag. I’ve got a stack of letters to send to Dana’s parents that have come unclasped. Now they’re everywhere like leaves in my way to finding my contacts and eye solution.

Fuck it! I dump everything on the floor. My eye solution rolls away from the pile. NO! It’s empty!

Maybe Tina has saline. I open her medicine cabinet. No eye drops but a fresh prescription bottle of… I squint my right eye to focus my left, Doxycycline. The label reads: Take three a day with meals for treatment of vaginal infection. Dr. Judith Wilson, MD/OBGYN.

Oh my God! Tina has Chlamydia! I’d bet anything! This is exactly the antibiotic Dr. Wilson gave me while I was being a dumbass bisexual last year. No fucking wonder Tina’s being crankier than usual! Those Chlamydia bugs can hurt, and make you moody and crazy.

Or should I say, moodier and crazier? “Yuck and ewww.” I slam the door to the medicine cabinet shut. “Henry, you asshole.”

If I tell Shane my morsel of gossip she’ll likely say, “Well, what’d you expect? The guy’s had like fourteen wives or something you told me? Right?” Then she’d wildly rub her face.

Shane is particularly dismissive about anything that has to do with that weekend. In fact, we are all geographically challenged now that neither country to the north, Canada or south of us, Mexico, where Carmen was from can be mentioned without her face showing symptoms of what I hope is not really Tourette’s Syndrome. But I’m seriously starting to worry.

But what if I were to tell, Bette. Now, that’s someone who would find this information very interesting and infuriating. Hmm, well, maybe I won’t tell her then because when her switch has gotten flipped on lately about Henry and Tina, well, volcanic about covers it.

Who can blame her though? But they’re both being stupid bitches and that’s all there is to it.