While I was never one of those guys who could visualize their dream car, their dream house, or their dream woman, I always knew that Rita Hayworth was the perfect woman. You may not agree with me, but in that case I will have to respectfully let you know that you’re wrong. And I will tell you why. Rita Hayworth was the perfect woman because he was the star of my Dad’s favorite movie – which I assume was his favorite because she was the star of it.
The movie is Gilda, a 1946 film about an Argentine illegal casino, its owner, his right-hand man, and Gilda, the perfect woman, and the owner’s new bride who appears to share a past with the right-hand man.
But that’s just the plot. What keeps you glued to the screen is Gilda, the mystery lady with her long cigarettes, the long hair, and the even longer legs, as she takes the stage and sings “Amado Mio”.
Back then, he and Mom were still in charge of the car radio so the music that was playing in the car was their music: Finnish pop, often translated cover version of British and American songs, and Amado Mio. Dad had the song on one of his eight-track tapes, and on a cassette that he played in the car on our way to hockey practices.
The song would take us from our house to the bridge that took us over the Vantaa river. Sometimes he’d rewind it, often not, and since Dad isn’t a singer type, he never sang along. I guess the song just made him think of Gilda and Rita Hayworth, and the whole era of the 1940s which he had missed. The hats, the suits, the casinos.
When I was in high school, Dad bought a boat. Our family of three gathered around the kitchen table to brainstorm on good names for it, but the session was over as soon as one of us – and I like to think it was me – suggested “Gilda”.
“Gilda” it was.
A few years later, during my month and a half in the US, I bought Stephen King’s short story collection “Different Seasons”. I bought it for the short story that had become “Stand By Me”, the movie, but was pleasantly surprised by another story in it, called “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”. The movie based on that story is called simply Shawshank Redemption which I thought was a huge mistake since Rita Hayworth is, sort of, one of the story’s main characters.
I like Harry Belafonte because Mom liked it and played Matilda in the house. I sometimes listen to Edith Piaf and think of lying on our living room floor on a sunny day, with “Padam Padam” in the speakers.
I think Sean Connery is the real James Bond, because Dad raved about him, and I agree with him on putting Bud Spencer and Terence Hill in the Top 3 of comedy duos in the world, too.
And I also know that Rita Hayworth was once the most beautiful woman in the world.
The other day, as Son was supposed to be in bed, I sat at my desk, writing something, when he suddenly asked me to come to his room. He was sitting up in his bed.
“I can’t sleep, there’s something missing here,” said the smiling boy.
“What is it?” I asked.
“I can’t fall asleep because I can’t hear the sounds of TV, and you and Mom talking downstairs.”
“Why don’t you go down and watch an episode of Columbo or something,” he added, giving me the thumbs up.
“OK, I said. “And you’re right, Columbo’s always good,” I added.
I said good night, and walked downstairs to the living room, and turned the TV on.
They were showing “Gilda”. I sat down, and watched it with Wife. It was excellent.