When light hits the hardwood floor, everyone squints. Not because the beams claw at everyone’s eyes, although they do – it is because the vivid clothes sitting against the pompously patterned set tickle the retinas. It is quite obvious; three hours before lights flood the island of futon and pillows, two women were having arguments with their lovers. They were accused of being too feminine, too ignorant of masculine sensibilities. The result was the grayish futon lying on the middle of the stage, several argyle-patterned pillows and an obvious loyalty to monochromatic colors. The result was unsettling. Everything assaulted the senses with its lines, and absence of anything that’s round to break it.
A few hours after, women will be sitting on them, each hugging a pillow, or hiding behind a pillow because their skirts betray their ignorance of the setting (and the set designers’ anger). The set that has been envisioned to resemble a single man’s flat, to bear contrast to the all-women panel, was a disaster.
A few seconds after the lights turn on, everyone slowly became more good-natured. The lights, at least, were perfected. It hit the guests on the right angles, and threw shadow on areas that made them appear like statues. No wrinkles were evident, though their make-up artists, just like the set designers, did a shoddy job at hiding them.
The host sat with the audience members, facilitating the discussion, making everyone laugh comfortably. In the middle of the stage, right smack in the middle of the futon sat Christine Baranski, immaculate hair forming a halo against her head, laughing at jokes as she sipped flat champagne – just enough to keep her humorous, but not so much that it will dull her tongue and let words slip.
On each side of her sat two other women. Julianna Margulies, who was wearing a skirt sharp enough to use for writing (or cutting), stretched her legs to her sides, looking like a mermaid whose fins were made out of blades and glass. She, too, sipped champagne, hoping for the same effect it has on Christine, although the only thing it did was to deepen her blush and make her tongue looser. Her answers slipped, glided, and glossed over the ears of avid listeners.
Archie Panjabi was sitting opposite Julianna, plopped comfortably against a particularly fluffy throw rug, legs crossed, the fabric of her pants spilling in front of her. Her hair, too, was spilling on her shoulders, the cascade making most women whistle like men.
The crowd was mischievous, casting mischievous questions, hoping to catch answers that don’t resemble fish flailing for oxygen.
“Well, it’s obvious, I would definitely date Gary, if I were to choose,” Christine purrs.
“Are we choosing based on our love interests?” Julianna quips, “because then, I would have to choose both Chris and Josh..?”
The audience members separated by Teams Peter and Will all laughed appreciatively, forgiveness and understanding puffing from each outbreath. There’s magic in not choosing as everyone is left to keep their glass-encased illusions protected.
“That’s unfair!” Archie pipes in, “I’ve had more love interests than any of you!”
“They’re not really love interests,” Julianna challenges.
“Oh-ho-ho,” Christine points at Archie, clapping her hands together and rubbing them to fuel Archie’s dilemma.
“Okay, I’ll do the opposite. I’d date Christine! All our characters have exchanged are a couple of lines here and there.”
Christine laughs appreciatively and hugs Archie.
“What about Alicia?” one of the few Kalicia-shippers from the audience shouts.
“You mean Jules?” Archie’s eyes dances, “Sure, I’d date her too.”
Julianna blushes and giggles.
The lights have been burning for hours, and everyone’s giddier than when they all began. Everything started dimming down, inhibitions included. The visual spots in the three women’s eyes are dancing, together with the bubbles of the freshly-opened champagne. The result was a series of flamboyant predictions dropping with their spit and sweat.
“I think that both men aren’t really Alicia’s true love,” Christine declares. “Each of them has something the other one doesn’t.”
“Well, it’s certainly fun to make out with two good-looking men,” Julianna counters, “but yes, I would love to see Alicia independent. TV shows need more girl power!”
“Or more girl-on-girl action!” another audience member quips.
The auditorium thundered with laughter and applause. The storm was louder and stronger on stage.
“You get a lot of that from Archie. I mean Kalinda. Or… is that both?” Julianna looks at her co-star, alcohol and light skipping and hopping in her eyes.
“It’s getting hotter in here!” Christine howls.
“Of the cast members and guests you haven’t kissed before, who would you kiss, and why?” Another audience member shouts. Frivolity mists the air; even viewers are picking up and getting intoxicated by the palpable euphoria exhaled by the three women.
“I’d kiss Kalinda! Or Archie. Or effectively, both!” Christine shouts without thinking.
Everyone laughed louder.
“No, really, I need to know what the fascination is all about!” Christine tips the champagne glass into her mouth for emphasis.
“I’d suggest that to the Kings,” Archie wisecracks. “I’d love to make out with the boss too!”
“It’d be interesting to make out with Cary,” Julianna answers, “it’s so unlikely, it’d be a story to watch out for!”
“Would you kiss Kalinda?” The question came from the host whose high apparently shot beyond space. She was the only one grinning, the others’ face fell deathly serious as they felt a delicious taboo being cooked.
The pause was so pregnant it could have given birth to quintuplets.
Julianna looks at Archie, and the other woman stares back at her – both with expressions that read of Shakespearean allusions. With all her jokes, Christine (un)comfortably opens the last champagne bottle, the pop whispering in everyone’s ears.
“Oh, don’t you all just wish you can see that?” Archie speaks first, a Kalinda-like instinct that contracts to protect Alicia surfacing. “We actually kiss each other in the comforts of closed sets.”
“Yes, we have kissed almost everyone at least once!” Julianna blurts out.
Archie crawls, arms and legs crossing over Christine’s form. She reaches Julianna in a second, grabs the side of her cheeks and plants a kiss on her lips. Neither moves, each savoring the lie they have let slip a few minutes ago. One of them moves her lips to latch onto the other. Later on, when asked, each would point to the other as the person who deepened the kiss. There is a few seconds of pause and when one slips her tongue into the other’s mouth, both stop – a mutual agreement to let things simmer down. Smiles immediately lift the corners of their mouths as everyone applauds.
“I believe my question wasn’t whether Kalinda would kiss Alicia or not. It was about Alicia kissing Kalinda,” the host’s insistence foams at her mouth.
Before Archie can retreat to her seat, Julianna grabs the other woman’s nape, her tongue swiping to continue their initial meeting a few minutes ago. Their breaths hitch and get caught up in the spaces between reason and abandon.
“How’s that for being in character?” Christine hollers.
The heat suddenly intensifies, the spotlights blinding everyone.
A second later, two light bulbs explode.
Everyone emerges from the dark, wet with laughter.