Dr. Bombay! Dr. Bombay!…

Early on, every time I daydreamed about my first appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (because there is no other), as I envisioned myself sitting at the right hand of the King of Late Night, I somehow always morphed into Elizabeth Montgomery.

She / I chatted gaily in our little black dress, legs crossed with sexy ease punctuated by witty banter and the occasional and effective toss of shiny, shiny blonde hair.

Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stevens in BEWITCHED — which ran smack dab through the middle of my formative years — played a monster role in shaping my vision of the “woman to be.”  Samantha was perfect in her imperfection: smart but approachable, always pretty even when covered in exploded dinner or fireplace ash. Her brand of sexy was without danger and always with a touch of class. Sam was funny and beautiful, self-assured but humble. And she learned as many lessons as she taught. In short, not a bad role model no matter what the decade.

I dare you to find a woman my age who hasn’t seriously wished she could just twitch her nose in the face of a troubling situation. But sometimes, even Samantha had to call for assistance. Recently — rather frustrated with my lack of creative progress here — I followed her lead.

“Dr. Bombay, Dr. Bombay. Emergency, emergency!!
Come right away!!”

Guess what — it helped. No, I don’t mean that I chanted the above and suddenly Bernard Fox (see right) appeared in my living room wearing arctic gear from his climb up Everest and gave me the idea for this post. Frankly, my living room’s too crowded at the moment. But the sheer act of thinking of asking for help seemed to loose my creative constipation. Ugh — seems calling for a doctor was not contraindicated…

As regular readers of this blog know, I created The RIPE Project as the companion to a solo stage show I’m developing entitled RIPE. My intention (oh, the paving projects those bad boys have built) was to regularly use this forum to record the creative process as an aid to getting the stage show on its feet.

I started this blog out with a bang and then —

Yep. Progress halted. Car in park. Or more accurately, car ran out of gas. So, what do you do when what you do can only come from you? (Hey, wasn’t that a featured tune on the sequel to Marlo Thomas’s seminal children’s album, Free To Be…You And Me 2 — Beyond the Wonder Years??) What I’m finally learning is that when I’m stuck, I need to toss things up in the air. So, I shake out the blankets. Read a book. Watch a movie. Organize my desk. In short, I do whatever until something (and there’s always a something) catches on a corner of my brain.

Recently one night after reading a book/watching a movie/cleaning out a drawer, as I was falling asleep, out of nowhere I literally heard Samantha Stevens call to Dr. Bombay. (This kind of thing happens to me often. See my previous post ALL ABOARD THAT MUSICAL TOURETTES TRAIN.)

So Samantha Stevens led me to Elizabeth Montgomery who lead me to Johnny Carson which lead me to realizing just how informatively formative Bewitched really had been for me. Truth: sometimes I’d still LOVE to be Samantha Stevens. And since the point of RIPE is to examine the process of achieving ripeness as a person — in all of its forms — as experienced by me, well I was suddenly back on the road.

Since we’re on the subject of Samantha as muse, let’s take a closer look at the sociological picture presented by Sol Saks, creator of Bewitched. This half-hour sitcom featrued Samantha, a young beautiful witch who, instead of using her powers to fly around the world flagrantly enjoying the high life (like her mother, Endora, for example), instead seeks the ‘real’ love of a mortal. Once she meets Darren, she tries to stifle her magical powers to more comfortably blend into his world. Of course, she fails — but she never stops trying. As the series developed, both Darren and Sam seem to realize that her talent (being a witch) is much better off appreciated than scorned.

But while Samantha is always aiming to be the perfect mother and wife, she does have a crusty underlayer. She gets angry, can be spiteful, casts a questionable spell or three. But in essence, she’s not only a good witch she’s a good woman.

And then there’s Serena.

The flip side of Sam in almost every way, Elizabeth Montgomery was allowed the fun of dipping into overt and over the top when she was double-cast as Samantha’s cousin, Serena. The Madonna/Whore complex was energetically embossed through these characters. And choosing the same actress to portray them sent a sizzling secret message from this family sit-com: women can be both good and bad.

Serena was always the troublemaker. The tease. The sex machine. In fact, Serena was so associated with carnal pleasure, “she” was actually featured on a Playboy cover.

What fun for Elizabeth Montgomery, the actress. And what fun for me — the little Catholic schoolgirl watching. Because the double-casting of Elizabeth Montgomery sent the subliminal ping that even the most perfect woman/housewife/mother, somewhere deep inside, is still a sexy, tantalizing woman. Not necessarily a fact you easily learn from your own mother.

But, ain’t it the delicious truth!