I let the phone ring five times before snatching it up.
“Helloooo”, I drawled casually, pretending that I had not been sitting with the mobile in my hands for the last two hours.
“Hey…it’z me! I juzt zaw your mezzage. I had to pick up the kidz from zchool”, said my best friend Philomena in a rush.
“Not a problem. Guess what? I have an idea for my next column” I said, still playing it cool.
“Anbu…not in the fridge…not in the fridge!!! It’z on the table!!!” came the screech from the other end in response.
I shifted the phone a little further away from my ear in full sympathy with Anbu.
“Pah! I tell you…children nowadayz don’t lizten only! Zo, what were we talking about?
“ My column? New idea?” I ventured again.
“Aah! Yes. Tell. Tell” came the distracted answer. She must still be keeping an eye on the cold food chomping Anbu.
“Okay…I was on YouTube the other day looking for queer oriented TV shows and movies and I saw a very interesting music video clip featuring a lot of popular queer pairs. I liked the look of one couple in particular and I decided to explore further and find out more about them.”
“Don’t!” exclaimed the straight woman with great authority.
“What? Why? You don’t even know what I found out about them. They are really well liked and their story…” I began exasperatedly.
“Will end in trouble,” declared the Voice of Doom. “Do you know what happenz to every lezbian couple on TV?” she continued.
“Yes. But this couple…”
“Thiz couple will not zurvive. They never do. Either one of them will commit zuicide, or get pregnant through artificial inzemination, or fall in love with a ztraight man and then get pregnant by him, or the other one will murder the ztraight man, or will get zychotically obsezzed with a ztraight woman until zomeone has to kill her off the zhow, or they will randomly kizz once in the entire zeries and it will never be mentioned again, or….it will be called Experimentation and the ztraight man will have to zwoop in and zet them both on the path to ztraightness” she ended with a flourish.
“Are you done?” I asked coldly.
“Well…there are more zcenarios that I have in mind…” started Philomena before I interrupted rudely.
“This is not like all the other shows. It has substance. It has CC and JL and smouldering looks and jellybeans. It has Otalia.”
“Whatz Otalia? Opera muzic?” Philomena enquired.
“It’s the greatest soap opera of all time! Those two women…wowsie!!!” I gushed.
“If you are going to write about their grand love ztory, you have to do a little better than ‘Wowzie’” grumbled Philomena.
“Okay…let me give you a brief background. The show is called the Guiding Light and it has been around for the last 72 years. It ended in 2009 but Otalia became a sensation in 2008. The term ‘Otalia’ refers to two of the main characters portraying the love story- Olivia and Natalia. Those two women…”, I sighed
“Yez, Yez. I know. Wowzie.” said Philomena.
“I started watching from 2007 onwards so my knowledge of this show is very limited. But my knowledge of Otalia is extensive. Those two women…”
“Carry on with the ztory” Philomena said, before I started zoning out again.
“Ok. The story is set in the fictional town of Springfield. The place has a hill station feel to it…you know…a place where all the old people go to retire. Anyway… so Alan Spaulding is a rich man in Springfield. He is not a nice man. He has two sons; Philip and Gus. Philip is not a nice man. Gus is a cop but he is not a bad man. Gus had an affair with Natalia when he was seventeen and then ran off. The reason for this is not clear but Natalia got pregnant and gave birth to their son Rafe. Seventeen years later she comes to Springfield and tells Gus about their son. Gus is married to Harley at that point in time. Harley’s father Buzz runs Company; which is not a company but a restaurant called Company. Buzz has a son, Frank, who is a cop and a good man. Gus and Harley break up, and Gus gets together with Natalia.”
“What about the other half of Otalia? Olivia’z name has not come up anywhere till now?” asked Philomena getting drawn into the complicated story.
“Olivia Spencer”, I sighed. “That woman…”
“Now don’t ztart that nonzenze again” snarled Philomena.
“Right!” Clearing my throat I started to deliver my poignant dedication to Olivia. “Olivia is a good woman. She was married to Alan Spaulding but she fell in love with his son Philip. So she married said son Philip. He went mentally insane…not because of their marriage or anything…but…you know generally. So Olivia started dating another guy called Bill but that did not work out, so she started seducing another guy called Josh and got married to him instead. But that did not work out either. Then Olivia started dating Frank but fell in love with his father Buzz. So she dumped Frank and started dating Buzz. They decided to get married but she left him at the altar. A few soap opera months down the line, Olivia found out that she had a heart condition. Her brother in law Gus was very helpful and she started falling in love with him…”
“But that did not work out?” came Philomena’s disbelieving voice from the other end of the line.
“Wait! It does work out. Olivia is dying so she asks Natalia to give her Gus for the little time that she has left. Natalia gives her Gus with great reluctance. Olivia gets Gus but has to be rushed to the hospital to die. She decides to bunk from the hospital to go smell flowers in the park, and Gus rushes around on a borrowed motorcycle to look for her. So obviously Gus has an accident and is rushed to the hospital. Olivia is dying in that same hospital. (I think Springfield has only one hospital. It seems to be the gathering place for everyone.) Gus dies and Natalia, who is not only a good woman but a very ethical one, gives Olivia his heart and she lives. Amazing, right?”
“Umm! All I got from your brief background iz that Olivia is a zlut who has managed to zleep with or marry all the men in Zpringfield, and Natalia is a complete idiot! Which part of all thiz haz the greatezt lezbian love ztory of all time?” questioned Philomena sarcastically?
“The love story starts a few months from here” I said jumping up and down on my bed excitedly.
“And why do you keep zaying good man, good woman etc all the time?” asked Philomena.
“You need to watch the show to get that joke. Will keep you informed as I plan to recap the whole show. Isn’t that wonderful?”
“Wonderful” echoed Philomena doubtfully.
“Listen…I know it all sounds crazy right now…but watch the show. It all works out.”
“I don’t know. That Olivia Zpencer zounds like a crazy…” started Philomena.
“Olivia Spencer” I squealed, “That woman….”
P.S: Watch Guiding Light on CBS or YouTube to catch the full story and experience the Otalia phenomenon. You WILL fall in love with them!