by Elizabeth Teets
I have a deep unending love for Bette Midler. My passion for The Divine Miss M knows no bounds. My mother loves her and it is the only piece of pop culture we seem to agree on. I am very thankful to my mother for exposing me to Bette at a young age because I believe in many ways it saved me from years of pain. Despite my Catholic upbringing, now when I think of God and what she must look like, I think of Bette. As a queer person, this has probably saved me years of self-loathing and therapy costs.
My religion, like any of the western ones, has a holy trinity. These days, instead of finding myself saying prayers to father, son or Holy ghost, I look to another trinity, one that reminds me that men have no power here. My trinity is wise and good and needs nothing besides a really good white suit. Bette, Diane, Goldie. These women make my world go round, my sunrise, and my sanity at semi-normal levels.
This is to state the obvious that my favorite movie of all time, is The First Wives Club.
If you are unfamiliar, The First Wives Club is a 1996 American comedy film about three divorced women who seek revenge on the husbands who left them for younger women. It stars the actresses that make up the Holy Trinity of my personal religion with Bette at the top as God. It is a perfect film and I will not be taking questions at this time.
I have seen The First Wives Club an obscene amount of times. I do not know how many, because I go through periods where I just have it on as background noise. Something to listen to while I open mail or fold laundry. It’s comforting to hear the lines, as familiar as if they were my own heartbeat. The jokes have a rhythm. Each one so well written, it’s as if every punchline is musical.
Before I saw The First Wives Club, for the first time, probably playing on TBS as a middle schooler, I had seen the movie trailer dozens and dozens of times. It appeared as a trailer on my VHS copy of Nora Ephron’s This is My Life, which was my favorite movie as a kid.
My habit of watching the same movie over and over again started young, possibly a result of only having three television channels. I am also an only child of a single parent, so entertaining myself was a necessity.
I watched This is My Life, a comedy about a woman who becomes a stand-up comedian so many times as a child that I am now a stand-up comedian. But part of the viewing experience was first watching the trailer for The First Wives Club before, an appetizer before the entree.
I watched the trailer over and over again because I enjoyed two specific jokes. I would sit on the floor of my mother’s living room laughing at them each time as if they were new.
My favorite parts of the trailer as a child were as follows.
Two perfect cinema moments. But to my surprise. Only one made it into the actual movie.
The scene from the trailer in which Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker fight over a cake server was cut from the film. The First Wives Club famously shot hours of additional footage. Goldie Hawn’s character even has a boyfriend, played by a young Jon Stewart we never see. His entire role was cut out at the end. I think this probably for the best. The film itself is perfect and a man would only ruin it.
But my favorite scene still lingers in my heart. Why was it in the trailer but not the film? Where is the footage? Who won the fight? Did Diane Keaton help? After all she recently learned to hit thanks to Marcia Gay Harden. What happened with the cake server? I can't get the look on Bette's face as she stares at Sarah Jessica out of my mind.
Like any god, mine is a mystery and there are parts to her divinity I will never see. Unless they are released from a vault somewhere for a limited edition DVD Blu-ray combo pack.
Luckily, Bette Midler has Twitter. And maybe one day she will respond to one of my many many tweets with the full clip. Or maybe not and I will just have to be good, so she can show it to me in heaven.
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