“Us old broads”

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MargOH Channing

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The other night I got together with two of my oldest gal pals, Gena Rowlands and Kathleen Turner. Their birthdays both land on the same day and I hadn’t seen them in a long while so I invited them to Molly’s Pub, our old hangout.  Naturally they were both available.  I arrived a few minutes early to get started in on a martini or two.  Although I love them like my sisters (maybe more – unlike my own sister neither of them has ever tried to shank me with a trout fillet knife in order to get their hands on my rare copy of Cher’s sea shanty album – but I digress) one has to have a little extra courage to hold your own with these ladies. Don’t get me wrong I truly adore them both and they are absolutely lovely but we all are strong women with strong personalities and thighs that can crack a cocktail peanut.
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Gena arrived first and was resplendent in a lovely floral print sundress and beige overcoat with huge Foster-Grant sunglasses. I gave her a big hug and playfully asked “You looking to be in Gloria 3??”  We shared a hearty chuckle and then Gena, in her best Mob Moll voice snapped “Bourbon on the rocks barkeep and make her something sweet to kill the bitter in the bitch” after which she punched me in the arm. Ouch, it hurt!  She really is a brut. It’s hard to believe Gena is going to be 80, she’s hearty stock.
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Soon thereafter Kathleen came plowing through the door wearing a velour jogging suit and Uggs. She blew us kisses as she galumphed her way over. “Darlings, it’s been too long” she purred in her best Jessica Rabbit meets Harvey Fierstein voice and then it was air kisses all around. She tossed her hair coquettishly as she told the bartender “Just a champagne cocktail for me darling, I’m in recovery”. I raised my glass to her and toasted “Atta girl!” as I thought to myself, it’s hard to believe Kathleen is only turning 56.
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We took our seats in the cozy banquette in the corner. Kathleen had to sit on a chair, she couldn’t fit into the banquette, poor dear. Just like the old days, we all ordered the usual – Buffalo wings and three Molly’s hamburgers with a thick piece of onion, then Gena and I placed our orders. I really don’t like to be catty, because I love her so, I really do, but watching Kathleen tear through those chicken wings was like a scene from Serial Mom.  Good god.
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We started to reminisce about how we had all become such fast friends.  I met Kathleen when I played “Drunk #6” in Peggy Sue Got Married and I met Gena when I played “Bitch Mother # 6” in Gloria. In both cases we immediately hit it off often getting together for sleepovers, girl-talk and bawdy games of truth or dare.  Back in 2000 Kathleen and I would go out a lot post-performance when she did The Graduate on Broadway and boy she could really knock ‘em back in those days.
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But the real cement that holds the three of us together was our time in the 90’s when we worked together on an indie film called Grumpy Old Hookers, an answer to the Grumpy Old Men franchise, but sadly it was never released. It was one of those rare times I was cast in a speaking role and I thought I was brilliant. Gena thought my performance was rigid and demanded the film never be released. We began a mini-feud when I fired back to her that “I was playing an 85 year old hooker, shouldn’t I be rigid??  Plus if you had Rodney Dangerfield dry humping you, you’d be rigid too, you old bat!”  Although it got ugly we quickly made nice with each other but still the movie never saw the light of day.
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After about three drinks the conversation started leaning towards sex. Kathleen was telling us all about poor David Duchovny and his “struggle” with sex addiction. She said “Darling, he’s sleeping with everyone but me and I’m perplexed.  I’ve walked into his trailer nude on several occasions and he just blows smoke at my beaver!”. I gently said “Kathleen this isn’t 1981” and that her body heat has been replaced with hot flashes and to just get over it. Gena tossed in her two cents “the show is called Californication’ not Fossilfornication!”. We all laughed and that’s the way it is with us!
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Gena is actually the quiet one of the bunch; she was married to the same man, director John Cassavettes, for over 30 years. They made some fabulous films together like A Woman Under the Influence, Opening Night and of course the unforgettable Gloria. She also co-starred with Judy Garland in A Child is Waiting.  I have to say that she is very humble and hardly talks about her two Academy Award nominations or her multiple Emmys and Golden Globes. She’s what you call a lady, kids.
Kathleen, on the other hand, once she starts drinking it all flows over. She starts going on about how she lost the Oscar for Peggy Sue Got Married “to the deaf girl!” (Marlee Matlin won that year – on occasion Kathleen can be so inappropriate). “Darlings, I’m forever a nominee” she sobs “maybe I should learn sign language.” I always tell Kathleen how amazing she is and no one else would get naked on stage at our age like she did in The Graduate, plus I point out that not many actresses can say they have turned in so many great performances as she has in Body Heat, Prizzi’s Honor, Serial Mom and Romancing the Stone.   The last one even inspired a “special” remake of it called Romancing the Bone…that is when you know that you’ve moved people!  I always make her feel better after one of her meltdowns.
The cake arrives and the girls eyes light up and they’re ready to blow. I stop them and say, eyes moist with emotion, “Girls let me just say that being your gal pal has been a treat and even though you’re both much more accomplished actresses than me, it doesn’t matter because I’m the prettiest and have the nicest rack.  Close your eyes and make a wish, my lovelies!”  The next thing I know – splat!   I have a face full of frosting dripping from my chin!  Kathleen smiles as she runs her finger across my cheek and licks the frosting from the tip “Darling, you are so pretty in pink frosting” and Gena adds “MargOH! Why don’t you make a wish…for a facelift”…
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We all laugh and order another round!
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Happy Birthday Girls!
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MargOH Channing

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