THIS WEEK’S L WORD VOCABULARY:
Flowers: A generic gift only an idiot would give.
Pariah: A girl and her Pomeranian.
Phones: Transmitters of messages — but not always the ones you intend to convey.
THIS WEEK’S GUEST-BIANS: Kristanna Loken wants some privacy; Annabella Sciorra wants to be wanted; Heather Matarazzo wants revenge; Jane Lynch wants Cybill Shepherd.
Bette’s blues — Bette is shuffling along in a madding crowd. She looks lost. For a moment it even seems like everyone else is zipping along while she’s in slow motion, but maybe I’ve just had a slight seizure in anticipation of the theme song. I do know that Bette is in a marketplace of some sort, or a street fair. But it’s a weird mix of people: There are the requisite booths and the tourists wearing balloon hats, but there are also picketers carrying "Bush is a liar" signs and pleading for higher wages. Where are we, Mama Chaiken? Have you taken us over the gay rainbow again?
No, wait: Maybe it’s a biblical marketplace. You know, like the one in the temple with all the buyers and the sellers who thought money was more important than God. Maybe Bette is Jesus. Maybe she’s going to raze the place and burst into song: "My temple should be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves! Get up! Get out!"
If there’s a prophet in this temple, it’s the woman Bette is slowly walking toward: a singer with a guitar. "How much more?" she asks, echoing the strife on Bette’s face. (She also asks, in a fit of excessive, ungrammatical comparison, "How much more longer?" — but I’m trying to let that go.)
Singer: I’ve been standin’ at the station, baby, waiting for my change to come.
That bluesy voice belongs to Toshi Reagon, and she’s strumming Bette’s pain with her fingers. Bette moves toward her as if she’s hypnotized. And because she’s Bette, she reaches into her purse for some money to put in Toshi’s guitar case. Remember when Bette told Candace that she just writes checks rather than joining linked-arm human shields? Well, here she goes again, throwing money at the things that hit home.
And then Bette raises her head to face the day — or, more precisely, a sign. It’s an old metal sign that says "17 reasons why!" Hmm … 17 reasons why you should give Toshi more money? Or 17 reasons why it’s weird that you’re wandering though this hodgepodge marketplace? Or 17 reasons why you learned the truth at 17?
This sign (or, rather, its "poetically ambiguous" real-life counterpart) has a rich history; for now, the point is that it seems to be speaking to Bette. It moves her so much, she reaches for more money, gazing up at Toshi and the sign if they’ve just shown her everything she needs to know.
Also, see that plane flying behind the sign? Clearly that’s the Fantasy Island plane. I don’t know what that means, but I suddenly have a hankering for an umbrella drink. I wish I could get this kind of profound guidance from my surroundings — where’s an inscrutable (or perhaps entirely transparent) omen when you need one?
Jenny’s latest spaz-out — Jenny is buying coffee at the Planet. Naturally, it’s complicated coffee — a medium triple soy cappuccino with three pumps of vanilla — but what makes it so very Jenny is the fact that she mumbles, "the money’s right here," and expects the barista to take the money from her hand because her hands are too full for her to do anything herself. Jenny, have you heard of those things called bags? They come in many shapes and sizes, and they greatly simplify the challenge of juggling your possessions while making a purchase.
Tina arrives. She has more for Jenny to juggle: some rudimentary books on screenwriting. That would seriously harsh Jenny’s superstar buzz, but we don’t get to witness such an event — Jenny doesn’t have time to talk because she has to go get her new puppy. God, help us all. Especially the furry ones among us.
Jenny tells Tina not to worry; she won’t be late for the meeting that afternoon. But Tina says the meeting has been canceled; Lorenzo, the senior V.P., is on location. Tina’s doing that smarmy Hollywood thing with her face and voice, but even under that veneer, it’s pretty apparent that she’s lying.
Jenny: What a f—ing asshole.
Tina: [shrugging] I know. It’s Hollywood.
Jenny: I hate this f—ing Hollywood bulls—.
Tina: Good luck with your puppy.
Jenny: It’s a Pomeranian.
Tina: [wincing] Oh, how cute.
Jenny: I know! It’s gonna be so mini and cute. I’ll see you later. Have a really nice day, Tina.
Well, you have a great day, too, you mercurial mess! You just went from hate to love in about three seconds flat. After Jenny goes, Tina just stands there, surrounded by caffeine-craving yuppies but no doubt feeling more relaxed now that the Schecterian typhoon of moods has left the room.