Thursday, 13 February 2014 11:22

A Meeting with Marilyn

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It was my first paying acting gig: a whopping fifty bucks, which seemed to me at the time about five-hundred. But then again, as an actor working in St. Louis, fifty bucks is no small fee, as I think now about all the gigs I’ve done since for absolutely nothing.

I felt like hot stuff. I was a paid actor. I arrived at the gig with a bunch of other music students and thespians I knew from my college that had responded to ad like me. A retiring physician from the local Medical Centre was to be honored at a gala, and we were hired to be his “screaming fans” as he was escorted into the building. When the actors arrived, we were informed of our duties: scream your heads off, guys



Immediately, we “screaming fans” realized our job wasn’t going to be as cushy as the “stars” who’d pull in by limousine. It was freezing cold out on the sidewalk in front of the entrance to the Medical Centre, and we’d arrived a good hour before the celebrated physician and his posse were to arrive. In the meantime, we took turns ducking inside to feel our feet again and borrowed warmth by huddling together next to the “red carpet” and jumping up and down so we wouldn’t turn into popsicles.


Finally, the grand moment came and we were “on.” The limos arrived bearing the sexy and suave: Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and of course, the celebrated physician we were told to scream the loudest for. 

We screamed. We clicked pictures of them all with disposable cameras and screamed some more. I think some of us (myself included) screamed because screaming made us warmer, so we gave it our all.


Then it was over. We stood at the entrance of the cold building attacked by icy winds that could only come from the Antarctic while the rest of them went inside to bask in glory. Our job was over.


And this is how it happened, going inside to find the man in charge to pick up the anticipated check I’d suffered for. The foyer was crammed with physicians and doctors, whos-whos, and of course the “celebrities” hobnobbing with them all in full character with colourful cocktails. I panicked. I couldn’t remember where I was supposed to go, and all my fellow screamers were suddenly nowhere to be seen. 


And then like a beacon of light, there she was. Blinking through watery eyes and a runny nose as I went from cold to warm, I saw her. It was Marilyn.


The biggest sex-symbol of the fifties, and I knew all her movies. I also knew of her struggles in life. That she was troubled yet kind, and a lot smarter than most people knew. Someone who was always surrounded, but seemed in need of a friend.


I didn’t really care about not being able to attend the party everyone seemed to be enjoying, or if Marilyn was probably getting paid twice the amount than us screaming fans. But I do remember explaining my situation to her through chattering teeth while she wiped my face and give me a tissue. She gently directed me to the right place in her sweet, childlike voice that men could never resist and gave me a hug, and through the haze of water in my eyes she could’ve been the real deal. I don’t know, maybe she was. I kind of like to think so.


I finally got my check and my mom picked me up with the car heater blasting. I went out and ate a huge pasta meal and promptly got a cold later that night.


I never found out who Marilyn was and perhaps I never will. Maybe I bumped into her since and didn’t know it. But whoever she was, or is, I wonder if she remembers our meeting. I hope that, while everyone else around us danced and laughed, she realizes how thoughtful she was to take the time to give a lowly fan a helping hand.