Friday, December 30, 2005

I wanna be loved by you

Today I visit a museum exhibit, “I wanna be loved by you.” It's a series of photographs taken of Marilyn Monroe. I feel as if I've had a personal visit with her.

My image of her is from the early ‘60’s: on the cover of Life, a celebrity who committed suicide, once married to Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio, and someone took a rose to her grave every year. I think it was Joe.

A burgundy floor to ceiling poster says:

I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else. The public was my only family, the only Prince Charming, and the only home I had ever dreamed of.—Marilyn Monroe

The photos in the exhibit are poignant yet erotic. Come to think of it, there are a lot of men at the Marilyn photos, men of all ages, with ball caps, with spikey hair. Clearly she looked fabulous in a sheet. There’s a celebrity section: “Marilyn and Jack Benny,” “Marilyn and George Cukor,” “Marilyn and Tony Curtis.”

But there’s one photo of her in a white V-neck sweater, at a lunch room, pointing at the camera. The title of the photo is “Marilyn caught off camera.” She looks smart, savvy. Her eyebrows are up and she looks about to say something. She could be in the courtroom. She could be my dentist. She doesn’t look ready to kiss anyone. She could be me. That's my Marilyn.

It’s said she completely changed before a photo shoot, rearranging herself, a consummate actress for the camera. Then there are the 100 life-size Marilyn cutouts grouped behind movie ropes and a video playing of her singing happy birthday to JFK. I wonder what she’d think of all this cardboard homage to her. All these models of yourself with your skirt blowing up from the subway air, dressed in red, white, blue or green, like so many Christmas lights. Twinkle, twinkle. Did anyone really love her?

Then, hidden in the back corner, there’s the room of Norma Jean Baker, a slightly prettier than average girl who worked on an assembly line, before she imagined herself into being, before she took unprecedented control over the movie Bus Stop with her savvy, and before she left the planet.

Marilyn said The public was my only family, the only Prince Charming, and the only home I had ever dreamed of. The title of the Marilyn exhibit is “I wanna be loved by you.” I didn’t realize she maybe wanted to be loved by me.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Are Men Necessary?

Dear Friends,

Pardon my dust while I try to figure out what I want my blog to be. (Blog-to-be: is that sort of like I may marry it, after we set the date? It's my blogicee?)

While I originally thought I’d share my errant but brilliant, pithy thoughts (on a daily basis!) many of them are unbloggable. Not x-rated—ok, maybe some of them—but not of the sort I want to place in this forum.

Instead, I’ll share with you that I dream of being a sort of Maureen Dowd, and saying wildly funny and insightful things about my daily surroundings, an archaeologist of the present, sending letters from today, without being so strident and as self-consciously clever as I find some of her writing.

By the way, Maureen, I’m sorry, that’s the way it is here, in the hinterlands, today, although your writing makes me smile, and sometimes it exposes actions I haven’t known about, a marvelous combination. But I’m bothered a bit about the strident nature of some of your comments, which come across as, well, sort of self-righteous. Still, I like your NYT column. This leads me to your book, Are Men Necessary.

As a single 50-something who raised two sons alone and who is managing her own brilliant career, I find the title a little off-putting and not ironic. I guess I’d wonder a little if I saw the title, Are Women Necessary? There’s a he-man on the cover, a cartoon spidey man replete with bulging muscles and saviourism shining is his bright blue eyes.

Excuse me while I run right out to the kitchen and throw a roast in the crock pot and be sure to take my hair out of curlers at 5 pm, comb my hair, and surround myself in saran wrap. I’m busy being swept back to some earlier, black-and-white, slightly-post Leave It To Beaver time where my role is defined, and I am necessary. Please keep me, Walter. The severance pay is lousy.

Then again, perhaps I’d just find Are Women Necessary a buzzing annoyance and swing at it with my fly swatter, a mere trifle to be put out of its misery. Are Women Necessary? And I care what the writer thinks because why? I seek engagement, not estrangement.

But, Maureen, I know you will write back, and tell me things like I’m taking all of this too seriously, and how, since I haven’t even read the book, I have missed the boat. In fact, I fell off the dock and nearly drowned.

All that’s going to change, though, because you’ll convince me to read it, and I’ll share what I learned from your book as a potentially sympatico 50 year old single woman. Perhaps we’ll be friends for life. Looking forward to hearing from you.