Past Imperfect

Past Imperfect – #464

Ramon: “Aw, hell, why are you crying this time?”

Harriet: “I just feel so blue about our relationship. We seem to be in a rough patch and I don’t know why. Is it something I’ve done?”

Ramon: “Not really. Although maybe you shouldn’t cling to me like I’ve got the last bottle of gin in the whole city.”

Harriet” “Is it my outfit? Did I go too far with the sparkly gold headband?”

Ramon: “I hadn’t noticed, especially since this is a black and white movie. You can’t tell gold from a hole in the ground. But it does make it seem as if you’ve suffered a head wound during a debutante ball.”

Harriet: “Then I’ll take it off! I’ll hurl the wretched thing over the side of the building. Anything to make you happy. And if I can’t make you happy, then I’ll hurl myself as well!”

Ramon: “You really need to stop reading whatever books you’re reading.”

Harriet: “Done! I will never read anything again. I love you with all the melodrama coursing through my veins. You just have to tell me what’s troubling you and I will immediately fix the problem.”

Ramon: “Well…”

Harriet: “Yes, my bigger-paycheck-enhanced love?”

Ramon: “I can see in the mirror over there that the fool stylist jacked up my lipstick. Do you happen to have any Max Factor #47 on you?” 

Harriet: “Max Factor? I don’t understand. Is this about… makeup? I mean, it is, in another way, because I was trying to makeup with you. Like making-up makeup. But you’re actually talking about makeup makeup. And lipstick, of all things. I don’t know what to say.”

Ramon: “You’re sure saying a lot for a person who doesn’t know what to say. And not doing such a great job at it. Who does your words? You need a better dialogue writer.”

Harriet: “I have the same dialogue writer as you. Which is nobody. This is a silent movie. We just move our mouths and let the little people in the audience fill in the blanks.”

Ramon: “Then maybe you should stop moving your mouth so much. It chafes me.”

Harriet: “You’re moving your mouth just as much as I am. God, you are so annoying. Maybe I shouldn’t even bother trying to save this relationship, especially after what you did.”

Ramon: “I didn’t do anything to you.”

Harriet: “That’s exactly my point. You haven’t been doing anything to me lately, no matter what revealing couture I can find in the costume department. It’s not easy getting trussed up in all that mess every night. I just assumed that you’ve been mouthing silently with someone else on the side.”

Ramon: “You think I’ve been sleeping around? Well, I haven’t found anyone that looks just like me, so, no.”

Harriet: “Oh my, that’s a silent earful. So many ways I could go with that statement. Are you simply looking for other men? Or are you just so in love with yourself that you want to do a scene with your twin, in a sense.”

Ramon: “Yes. And yes.”

Harriet: “I believe those three words are the most honest thing you’ve ever said to me. Well, at least we now have an understanding. And I’m glad we got to this point before I unnecessarily hurled anything over the side of the building. I really need to regulate my caffeine intake.”

Ramon: “I second that emotion. The damage you’ve done when you can’t find the right word for a crossword puzzle.”

Harriet: “I do hope the mailman gets out of physical therapy soon. That aside, how are we going to regulate our relationship? We’re already being paraded in the gossip columns as the next Pickford and Fairbanks. We really don’t want to lose that publicity, do we? Even if we don’t do it.”

Ramon: “I say let that be what it is and we’ll be what we are. Image is everything. Which is why I’m still annoyed about the stylist giving me a shoddy lipstick line.”

Harriet, plucking something out of her purse that we hadn’t noticed before and still can’t see: “I think you need to move beyond that. Ludmila may very well have given you a perfect line but you smudged it all up by making kissy faces at your reflection in the camera lens. Anyway, here’s a tube of #47. I had it with me the whole time.”

Ramon: “So you’ve been keeping secrets as well?”

Harriet: “Don’t even knock on that door, Buster Cheatin’. Let’s let it go and make the best of what’s left. Speaking of, should we do dinner at The Formosa Café after we wrap today?”

Ramon: “Sounds splendid. They have a waiter who looks just like me when the lights are down low.”

Director: “And…. cut!”

Ramon: “Oh, I forgot all about you. Did you get what you needed?”

Harriet: “Don’t be surprised if you didn’t. I know the feeling.”

Director: “We’re good. I don’t know what the hell you two were talking about, but your facial expressions will be perfect for the scene.”

Ramon: “And what would the scene be?”

Harriet: “We silent actors never know. We just flail around like you tell us to do and then we find out the actual story when we read the title cards at the premiere.”

Director: “We’re not sure yet. But we think this will be the moment when Ramon finds out he’s a long-lost prince who will soon be ruling half of Europe. But he can’t marry Harriet because one of her ancestors once annoyed a Pope in 1622.”

Harriet: “That’s a bit off the ramp. And what did this ancestor do that was so atrocious?”

Director: “His lipstick was smudged.”

Previously published, revised and extended for this post. For those confused by the “Max Factor” reference, Maksymilian Faktorowicz was a beautician from Poland (name anglicized once he moved to America) who specialized in movie makeup during the Early and Golden Ages of Hollywood. One of his many product lines? A smear-proof lipstick.

And yes, The Formosa Café was a real Los Angeles restaurant which opened in 1925, the same year this movie was made. Isn’t trivia a grand and pointless thing? It’s one of the foundational keystones of Bonnywood.


19 replies »

    • Thanks, Sheila! Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all come up with such festive banter in our daily lives? Instead, we have mundane conversations about paying bills and whose turn it might be to change the litter box… 😉


  1. Harriet has forgotten one “golden’ rule…namely never let someone who is prettier than oneself upstage one. If one does that, one is destined (like Harriet, whom I admit I’ve never heard of until this very moment) to obscurity and poverty where the purse strings barely stretch to Maybelline (the make up, not the various women …aw, you get it) but don’t quite reach Max Factor. And one has to get used to living therefore with smudged lipstick. Especially if one is sort of a slut.

    Liked by 1 person

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