For some unknown reason (outside of the obvious one that my subconscious is like a Dada toy chest), I have had two (not one but two) dreams about Eleanor Parker in the last three weeks.
You will probably know her best as The Baroness from The Sound of Music, but she also played Kirk Douglas’ wife in The Detective and the redheaded actress/courtesan bad girl Lenore in Scaramouche. (Guess which one I prefer.)
7/20-7/21. In this dream, she’s herself, Eleanor Parker, and a friend of my bartender friend Joan (ingénue, Audrey Hepburn thin, brown hair streaked with blonde highlights, no relation to anybody I know in real life). “Call me Parker,” she says when we’re introduced, and explains that she’s given up acting to paint, and she’s in town to see her friend’s art opening. She pronounces the word “friend” that Capital F way women use to denote somebody with whom they have more than just a platonic friend relationship. Oh well, I think to myself, there’s that door closed. Which is too bad, because we talk all night at Joan’s bar, and take a cab back to Parker’s hotel room, where I take the couch and she sleeps in the corridor between the living room and the bedroom with her body wrapped in a plush dark rug. “When is the opening?” I ask in the dark. “Three,” she says. “Why don’t we sleep in then?” I offer, but she’s already out like a light.
I wake up around noon. Do I go into the corridor and wake Parker up? While I’m thinking about it, I hear keys in the door and a guy in a suit walks in. He goes right over to where Parker is sleeping and wakes her up. They hug, and start talking in low voices. I get up and close the door between the living room and the corridor, then yell out that I’m taking a shower. “Okay, dear,” Parker calls back. Dear, I think; yeah, right.
When we’re all dolled up, Parker introduces her friend as Bill, and the three of us go to an art gallery on West Broadway where Bill is exhibiting portraits that mix Andrew Wyeth photo-realism with acid-etched abstract art. It’s called The Daaé Series, after Christine Daaé in Phantom of The Opera--every painting has at least one female face that has acid etching scarring her features. “If this was a mystery novel,” I say to Bill, “you’d be the prime suspect in a series of acid attacks on beautiful streetwalkers.” “There are no beautiful streetwalkers,” says Bill. “Are you speaking from instinct or experience?” Parker asks. Before Bill can answer, she pirouettes in her silver gown and heads off to get more champagne. I join her at the bar. “I wouldn’t mind the fact that he’s annoying,” she says, “but he’s annoying and he’s family.” I do a little double-take, mouthing the word “Oh,” and Parker explains that she and Bill are distant cousins whose families lived near each other outside Washington DC when they were teenagers. “If this was ancient Egypt, we’d have three kids by now,” she says, and I get this vivid flash of her playing the Joan Collins part in Land Of The Pharaohs. Which immediately makes me realize that this is a dream, and the next thing I know I’m lying in bed in Ocean Bluff blinking against the morning sun.
8/12-13. Last night’s dream was a Western, but no relation to the Western Parker was in (Escape from Fort Bravo, 1953, John Sturges--hah!--it’s one year younger than I am!). She and I are hiding from the outlaw who’s trying to kill her because she can identify him as the man who killed her smarmy husband (some bit player with a moustache). We’ve been ducking in and out of buildings in town to get away from him, and we’re in the General Store now. Parker--Mrs. Smarmy Husband--is hiding behind the counter. I’m standing to one side of the back door, my back to a wall that has hanging from it a lot of stagecoach reins, harnesses, and horse tack. The outlaw is outside, I can hear his spurs as he walks. What can I do? I look over at Jake, the General Store’s delivery boy. He looks like Clint Walker’s twin brother: big, thick, and dumber than a sack of snaffle bits. If the outlaw sees Jake at the door instead of me, he’ll hesitate long enough for me to get a shot off. I wave my gun at Jake and get him to stand in front of the door.
“Get down,” I yell to Parker. Because she’s the female lead, she ducks behind the bar for a full second, then slowly raises her head to get a good look at what’s going on. The door bangs back against the wall as the outlaw kicks it open and aims at Jake. But because it isn’t me or Parker, and because it's a 50's Western, he holds his fire, which gives me a chance to shoot his gun hand. The gun spins away, Jake dives for cover, and the outlaw raises his other hand, which also has a gun in it, and starts firing in my direction. I duck behind a barrel of nails. Bullets thump through the wood of the barrel and then jangle metallically inside as they ricochet off the barrel’s contents. I’m worried about Parker because the counter is right in the line of the outlaw’s fire if I stay behind the barrel. I have to move. Do I do the smart thing and try to flank him or do I do the dumb thing and try to surprise him with a head-on attack? Because I am the male lead, I do the dumb thing and kick over the barrel of nails, fire three quick shots, and leap towards the outlaw in slow motion. I can hear Parker yelling my name as time slows down and the sound of her shouting becomes a rushing noise in my ears, and I wake up in bed literally three deep breaths before my alarm goes off.