What is Love?
“The Price of Salt” was one of the first lesbian novels that I read. When “Carol,” which is the retitled film version of “The Price of Salt,” came out to such positive reviews, I started watching the local movie ads. At last it came to Springfield. Ann and I decided to see it on a Tuesday in the late afternoon. The weather was supposed to get pretty bad later in the evening, so instead of our usual post-movie eating out, we planned on eating at home all snug inside watching the snow fall.
The movie stars Rooney Mara, of the “Dragon Tattoo” fame and Cate Blanchett who won Oscars for “Blue Jasmine” (best actress) and “The Aviator” (best supporting actress). They both are beautiful women. The film takes us back to the 1950’s and includes period dress, cars and attitudes. Blanchett’s character, Carol, has a complicated life: she’s in the middle of a divorce, has a little girl to whom she is devoted and a penchant for affairs with women. Mara’s Therese is a young woman who meets Carol and feels an attraction at once. She’s never been involved with a woman, and she has a boyfriend who wants to marry her. Young and innocent, Mara’s large eyes remind me of Audrey Hepburn in her role as “Sabrina.” So we are set up for the more sophisticated Carol to corrupt the young and inexperienced Therese.
There’s energy between these characters that seems genuine. From the first kiss, it’s as if the earth suddenly slopes away from us and we are propelled toward the hotel room, which—several smoky scenes later—is where Carol opens Therese’s blouse and there’s no bra. The younger woman’s breasts are smooth and sinuous —okay, this is a close up—there are two freckles on her ribs that would drive any card-carrying lesbian insane. Then they start kissing and touching and you know. So I leaned toward and Ann resting my chin on her shoulder, I nuzzled a bit and whispered in her ear, “Do we have any potatoes?”
Without missing a beat, she whispered, “One but it’s a big one. We can split it.”
So I’m wondering if this is what love turns into when you’re both in your sixties? Because I do love that woman. And in all fairness, there was a coming snow storm and we were eating at home. Yet I am puzzled. When I was a child, my grandparents were playfully affectionate. Was that about something as chaste potatoes? Is love cooking a meal for her? Is it quietly reading together for hours? Is it fussing at her to call a doctor when she’s sick? I don’t examine love and its meaning often these days. But I feel as a writer, I should be able to put it into words. All of my failed attempts over the years taught me (I am a slow learner) that love may be something that comes natural for all of us, but its quality takes practice and skill.
Anyway, here’s what I do know. I can’t forget those goddamn freckles. Outstanding movie.