Lana Turner On Life, Death, and B.F. Skinner


Last night I was visited by my dear dead friend Lana Turner. Has there ever been such a gorgeous creature?

I should preface this by telling my readers about my activity earlier in the evening: visiting a friend whose aunt had died recently. She needed help in selling her aunt’s belongings (no clothes, but vous ne pouvez pas tout avoir).

In her aunt’s bedroom, my friend sobbed in my arms. I thought about how often I have been at scenes such as this, since my business is at least partly through referrals. One arrives at the deceased’s apartment or house, and there is always a distraught relative or two who not only need to sell their beloved’s worldly goods but are plunged in grief to boot. Not a good combination. Ideally one is brought in after the family has packed up what they wanted and there is no one there but a worker or two. However, the circumstances are rarely ideal. My heart (yes, I have one) ached for my dear friend and the pain she was in.

When I returned to my beautiful Central Park West apartment and Bucky, I picked him up, despite his snarls. And thought about how very sad it all was, and how draining. But if one does not provide this service, what then? Dumpsters filled with “old junk,” as the lumpkins call it.

As I sat, wrapped in mink and thought, Bucky struggling in my arms, Lana appeared to me, as beautiful as ever. It really is a pity she can’t appear in color, but that’s why they call them “shades.”

“Hiya, kiddo,” she greeted me. “Say, what’s got you so down in the mouth?”

“It seems rather an odd thing to say to you,” I replied, “but death. Death is so very depressing. Mine can be such a morbid profession, Lana.”

She put her hands on her perfect hips. A tiny frown appeared. “Quit it, will you? And put that poor dog down before he bites your hand again. Remember how last time you had to go to the emergency room? Anyway, yes, there’s no two ways around it, death is no song and dance. I’ve seen it from both sides, kiddo, and I know. But you know the old saying, without death there is no life.”

“I’ve never heard of such a thing.” Bucky’s growls were reaching a crescendo. Rather than have my petal-soft skin pierced by sharp miniature pinscher teeth, I let Bucky slide to the floor, where he promptly began gnawing on what used to be a stuffed toy.

“Something like that. You know, cycles, to everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn, gee, philosophy gets me all mixed up.” Lana folded her arms. “It’s like that question the guy asked in the Miss Universe contest a few years ago. He asked one of the girls: If you could live forever, would you and why? She came back with, I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever. You get me?”

For once, your faithful correspondent was stuck for an answer.

“Listen, dying stinks, no two ways about it. Having someone you love die also stinks. But being dead isn’t so bad. You meet a lot of fascinating people in the afterlife. I met John Kenneth Galbraith. Didn’t understand a word he said, but he was cute!”

“You think every man is cute, Lana dear.” I could not help smiling. “And you are right, it is part of the eternal cycle. And my tiny–although integral–part in it is to keep precious objects from vanishing into garbage piles on tugboats, or being made into rag bundles.” I sat up. “You know, I feel better already. Why don’t we go into my sitting room and catch up on all of the gossip? Between the living and the dead, there is miles of territory to cover!”

“You’re telling me?” she giggled. “Wait til I tell you about spending some time with B.F. Skinner–talk about peculiar! He kept talking about putting me in a box and giving me food pelletts. What kind of crazy fetish is that?”

“Most dead intellectuals are a bit insane, my dear.”

“By the way, Bucky has an ear infection. That’s why he’s being such a little grump.”

“Why thank you, Lana! Off to the vet first thing in the AM!”

We headed for the sitting room for a refreshing cocktail; at least, for moi.

I’m afraid the rest of our chat will have to remain confidential. Thank goodness for Lana Turner. For a dead movie star, she has an uncommon amount of common sense.

Elisa & Bucky the Wonderdog