To anyone who’s never heard of her (somebody who lives on Mars, for example), the conversations between Marilyn and me might seem to be no more than two career neurotics assuring each other that if they could only make a tiny adjustment here and do a little bit of tweaking there, they would both be completely at peace.
Maybe that’s true for me; it’s possible. I have at least a prayer of ending up peaceful—out of sync with myself, perhaps, but for the most part peaceful. Marilyn always seemed to be doomed. It didn’t have to be that way. It was as if, out of our primitive needs, we put a curse on her. We turned her into an icon, then a vessel of our hopes and dreams, and finally a human sacrifice. When she did self-destruct (not even knowing we had—oh, Lord—“enabled” her), we gazed at her with the half-dead look of people attending a public execution, mocking the face of misery we helped her create.
She wanted to live; she said so. She begged us for help. We said, “We worship you.” Then we made fun of her and threw her off the cliff like an Incan sacrifice. The pulp press—a mirror to us, whether we believe it or not—egged her on. Later, we cried for her and called her a goddess.
She never understood any of it, not the adoration and certainly not the resentment that amounted to hatred. She wanted more than anything to learn how to survive—to be made well. Her housekeeper said, shortly after her death, “It’s my feeling she looked forward to her tomorrows.” Marilyn said, “Beneath the makeup and behind the smile, I’m just a girl who wishes for the world.” She was being clever, which she was, but the truth behind her frantic sadness—and anyone who came close to being her friend knew it—was that what she wanted more than anything was what most people want: to live in peace and happiness in the world she was born into.
Most of any audience to these scenes between her and me would get up, leave the theatre or hit the remote, and tune in to something believable. There’s already too much material on Marilyn—as there is on Elvis, Michael Jackson, and everyone else we treat like public property. We’re lucky no one ever overhears us. What Marilyn says would be misinterpreted, misunderstood, and ridiculed as something she wouldn’t say, even though every word she speaks, she speaks.
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