Searching for Tina Turner
Jacqueline E. Luckett
On their first date more than thirty years ago, Randall took Lena to an Ike and Tina Turner concert. From the minute they sat down in the fifth row from the stage, she knew he wanted to impress her even though he hadn’t needed to. She would have sat with him in the park, gone to the drive–in, eaten Wheaties in the narrow half–kitchen of his studio apartment, done whatever he wanted; she’d been that eager to be with him.
The Ikettes crowded onto the narrow stage while Ike’s deep bass warmed up the audience; like a chant his words tumbled soft and low. A hush fell over the auditorium as the guitar riff brought down the house lights. Blamp. The trumpets spit. Up, down, left, right. Blamp blamp. Suddenly, Tina pranced across the stage swinging her store–bought hair, the mike, the fringe on her sequined dress. Her taut legs pumped like a runner about to hit the finish line, her short dress came close to revealing all that was underneath. The music increased to a faster, throbbing tempo. Girls cried. Men beckoned to Tina. The Ikettes moved with Tina, step for step, pounding the stage in three–inch heels.
Lena inched toward the crowded center aisle along with everyone else to get up on the stage and dance with Tina. Randall caught her by the waist, leaned down and pressed his lips against her ear. “You’re as cool as Tina Turner,” he whispered, him as cool in a hip, sixties way as he meant she was. Trembling from the heat of his body, the ripple of his chest, the fuzz of his moustache, Lena kissed him. The clamorous crowd and loud music disappeared into the distance, and for years she remembered thinking that, as corny as it seemed, they were the only two people in the auditorium.
Now, those memories rush back as she watches a wrinkled TV personality melt in Tina Turner’s smile. Lena lifts her glass; it would be nice to ooze such charm and self–assurance in a way so subtle and subdued that it ought to be bottled. Randall believes that good liquor deserves a toast. So here’s to Tina. And Randall.
Tina looks directly into the camera, poised and straightforward; her eyes twinkle with humor and self–confidence. She is a perfect combination of wild and sexy. Of secure and comfortable freedom. The reporter sees it, remarks on it, and asks if it comes from celebrity or the people around her, and Tina lets him know that it comes from within. He goes over her history: regaining her place at the top of the pop charts, her refusal to focus on color or race, a misunderstanding with Elton John. Tina smiles again and changes the subject.
She talks of life, faith and love for her man. Her brownish–blond hair softens her ageless face, accentuates her full lips. The camera captures the warm beige and gold of her skin in a tight close–up and pans her hilltop home and the royal blue Mediterranean beyond. A happy blue, Lena thinks—the opposite of the blue she feels right now.
Copyright © 2010 by Jacqueline Luckett–Johnson