I was reading a biography of Heddy Lamarr. For a while my wife, Jen, showed no interest. She thought it was a book about a man named Eddie.
Then she glimpsed the close-up of the face on the cover.
“Have you got that book to perv?”
“Of course not. I picked it up at the library. You know I like old movies, and I was intrigued that she was also an inventor.”
She picked the book up, immediately confronted by the title:
Heddy Lamarr: The Most Beautiful Woman In Film.
“Hmmm . . .”
She seemed prepared to give me the benefit of the doubt. But it seems the Fates were working against me.
She opened the book, and out of 281 pages, she happened on the very one that informed her that Lamarr acted out the first female orgasm on screen.
“She was a porn star?”
No, I explained. She was an actress, adding weakly (again) that she was also an inventor.
“Well she didn’t invent the orgasm.”
She flicked through the book, pausing on another page.
(Goddamn you, Fates!)
She decided to hit me with a verbatim quote:
Aged 52, she accused a business-machine repairman she had known and dated for six months of raping her at gunpont. In court, a macabre interest was revealed: he liked to keep people in jars. He told the judge “I don’t know why she was shocked, no one else is. I have a five-month-old baby and a foetus that I got from a hospital in the east; a mummy, and also a unicorn.”
“What the hell is this crap that you’re reading?”
She got the impression that Heddy Lamarr was an orgasm-faking floozy who was raped by a man who collected foetus’, dead babies and unicorns. Easy mistake to make.
I immediately sought out something that might paint Lamarr in a more positive light, such as the invention that she worked on to aid the war effort, the technology which we encounter today whenever we use mobile phones or Wifi.
I thought that this might win her over:
Lamarr worked with a man called George Antheil on the invention. His wife came home one evening to be told that her husband couldn’t dine with her, as he was expected at Hedy Lamarr’s, (you know, the most beautiful woman in film), and she was not invited. They were too busy working on something.
“Oh, so you’re going to be busy! ” Böski, his wife, exclaimed. “What doing, dare I ask?” She was a trifle sarcastic.
“We are inventing a radio-directed torpedo,” he said.
“Indeed,” said Böski frigidly.’
Jen snorted: “Oh, that old chestnut. Inventing a radio-directed torpedo. Try a line like that with me and you’d be copping for a head-directed missile.”
Think she prefers Meryl Streep.