MY LIFE WITH MARILYN MONROE
Ok. The title exaggerates somewhat, but it attracted your attention, didn’t it?
And though brief, my contacts with Marilyn Monroe will stay with me always. They already have for more than 55 years, haven’t they?
For it was the summer of ‘55 (I was 16) when we first met. Granted there were dozens of others around during those first encounters. But nevertheless it was the real Marilyn, a few (er maybe 15) other guys and me.
The place – Sam Goody’s record store, 235 West 49th St, NYC. Me – part time clerk. She – browsing the shelves for classical LPs. You see, Marilyn was at the time married to Arthur Miller, who evidently was in the process of narrowing the intellectual gap between them. So she was trying to quickly educate herself in classical music. Goody’s, with the largest selection of classical recordings in the city, was the logical place to start.
What’s the next state beyond pandemonium? Chaos? Mayhem? Bedlam? Perhaps it was all of the above when she came into the store. Virtually the entire staff (all men of course in those days) surrounded her like iron filings to a magnet. She looked so vulnerable and embarrassed when some of the men shoved a copy of her nude calendar in her face and demanded an autograph.
This scene was repeated several times during the next few months. Once, she came in and asked for “The Art of the Fugue”. The male staff, both adolescents (like me) and the others who regressed to adolescence, collapsed in hysterics at the silly sexual play on words.
Probably to avoid another mini-riot, she called in her next order and asked that it be delivered to the Waldorf Towers where she was staying. This required that management select someone to deliver the records.
Can you imagine the petitioning, supplication and outright begging that went on to perform this assignment, especially among my age cohorts at the store? In retrospect, I think I was selected on the basis that I looked the least threatening. But to make sure, they sent Bobby Levin (son of the general manager) along with me as a chaperone (he was a little older, maybe 17 or 18).
We barely could contain ourselves as we walked the package over to the Waldorf. The fantasies cannot be described in this PG-13 publication but whatever you can imagine, we imagined and more.
We got to the Waldorf, and the Concierge took the package and said, “Thank you, boys”. The looks on our faces must have said it all, disappointment far greater than when the Dodgers lost the pennant to the Giants in ’51. And that’s saying something. But guaranteeing his entrance into the heavenly sphere, the Concierge asked “Do you wanna take it up to her?” Again, there was no need to speak; our expressions said, “are you kidding, yes!!” (I guess security was not the issue it would be today).
Up to the 16th floor, ring the bell, and oh my God, Marilyn opens the door in (as God is my witness) a flimsy nightgown. In hindsight, I guess Darwin was right. If my racing heart survived that moment, I would survive at least until my current advanced age.
She smiles at us and apologizes in that signature throaty voice, “Sorry boys, but I’m on the phone long distance. Thanks.” She takes the package, closes the door and we stand there hyperventilating.
I wish I could recount what we were feeling walking back to the store. But it was like coming out of anesthesia, you don’t know quite where you are. I also felt very light, like my feet were barely touching the ground.
We tried not to embellish too too much when we got back to the store and responded to dozens of “what happened” queries.
So, there you have it. Did the title exaggerate? True, these encounters were only moments, but they have indeed lasted all my life.