Monday, January 24, 2000

L'Amour for Lamarr

"Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid."
- Hedy Lamarr

It was an unsavory week, much of which was spent amid the alien corn, invariably at the verge of tears (often giving in to the urge to go beyond the verge). Just as it appeared events had reached an apex of discombobulation the devastating news of actress Hedy Lamarr's death hit the front page. I don't think I'm talking out of school here, and now that she's gone she certainly won't mind but I have a burden to finally unload. Back in late 90's Hedy and I had a torrid love affair.

We met in a Chanhassen restaurant. I was minding my own business, working on my all you can eat, peel your own $11.99 shrimp dinner when out the corner of my eye I saw something that made me sit up and take notice. It was a movement and a color that caught my attention. Like a gazelle, she strode into the room ever so gracefully, an airy saunter like none I've ever seen before. She wore a plum colored blouse and jet-black pants and I couldn't get her image out of my mind's eye. She was seated at a table in front of mine and throughout the evening she would not only glance over but stare intently at me. But it wasn't so much she was looking into my eyes but through my very soul. Her steely look made me uncomfortable. At one point I nearly said, "What the hell ya looking at?" But I sensed she was the type who could take my feet out from under me with a cutting comment just as easily as she had taken my breath away.

Now she's gone and I'm left alone in the wilderness to pick up the pieces. Hedy and I had a falling out a while back. Due to its timing what we shared can't exactly be replaced. She broadened my horizons and challenged my intellect. To let go of the friendship was quite hard on me. I missed several days of work. Didn't sleep much. I wanted to call her. But I think we both knew it best not to let it linger, and to leave it well alone.

Newspapers once billed her as the "world's most beautiful woman," but I called her "Pixley." She was as exotic as she was alluring. One look into those sultry simmering eyes and I was a goner. Whenever I was with her I wondered how I had gotten so lucky to be with the most special person in the room. I learned something in nearly every conversation we ever had. She made me smile and she inspired an incredible energy inside. The last thing she ever said to me was a self-revelation. "My problem is I'm a hell of a nice dame," she confessed as she hung up the phone. I was heart broken at how easy it had been for her to walk away.

The finality of this week's news was difficult to fathom. Grief stricken I looked for a way to express my heart hoping that it would allow me to purge the sadness. I was soon to be reminded that the best way to do so was via some form of artistic endeavor. She once told me she did her best thinking early in the morning but her best acting late at night. This was, she said, because her mind was clear in the morning and her acting was her release of all the things she had absorbed during the day. She taught me many things but perhaps the most important was how to take a punch without exhaling. Standing under the brick red moon during a rare lunar eclipse, a day after an eight inch snowfall, I thought back to how Pixley was one of the few that could enjoy the beauty of a sunset, of a clear full moon, of a fresh blanket of undisturbed snow. The whole moment was so picturesque and I so wanted to share it with her.

But instead I headed to Linwood Elementary School to attend the inspiring premier public performance of The Hair, The Jail, and the Contest, a brilliant opera written and performed by the school's fourth grade students. The kids not only came up with a wholly original story, but they also wrote a series of wonderful songs to bring out every possible nuance of the broad emotions the intricate plot was wrought with. The show had everything that makes good opera- high energy, impressive sets and costumes, and an evil villainous.

The story was set in a hair salon operated by Damaneesha played to perfection by the spunky lil' Lyric Rafn-Stoffer. Damaneesha was to judge a contest of the best superhero around thus each of the contestants came to her salon in hopes of looking their best. There was Mr. Metal (Alex Murphy) who wanted to be as shiny as he could because as his song explained, "he wanted to look good not like wood." Mr. Balloon (Ian Hedburg) who wore a green chapeau with an orange balloon on top fought crime by bouncing the criminals straight into jail. The ultimate contest winner of course was Mollie, who with her huge platform shoes stomped out the bad guys.

The opera was greatly enhanced by the wonderful character acting of Eben Trygg. Eben not only portrayed a jail bar with stunning accuracy, but showed his versatility by also nailing the role of a boom mike operator. Hedy would have been most impressed.

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