As imaginary girlfriends go, the one I probably had most trouble with was Marilyn Monroe. She just wouldn’t leave me alone. It’s a tricky situation – it’s very hard to tell a woman that she’s imaginary without making it sound like a rejection. So you have to tread carefully – it’s not you it’s me – literally.
Like most guys my age, Monroe was the Hollywood legend – a woman whose suicide sealed her in the tomb of the eternally beautiful. That said, I was never her biggest fan. I thought she was great, yeah – she was sexy and funny, and Some Like it Hot is one of my favourite films – but she never really captured me in that obsessive way that screen legends sometimes can. But then when I was in my early twenties I attended an auction that was raising money for the Arvon Foundation. The auction had been organized by a friend of mine, and was a sale of showbiz memorabilia. Michael Jackson had donated a sequinned trilby, Robby Krieger had donated a guitar from The Doors, and the Marilyn Monroe Estate had donated a green dress that had belonged to the star. The dress was far from sexy – I remember it looking rather plain and shapeless – but it was Marilyn’s and it was up for sale. Now, I was there with my girlfriend at the time, and even though she looked nothing like Marilyn Monroe, one of the press photographers who was covering the auction thought it would be a great idea to photograph her wearing the dress – which she agreed to do. They took her to one side, photographed her in the dress, and all was good. The auction was a success and the day ended well.
I didn’t really think much about it again until a few weeks later when I recounted the story to a friend of mine, Tony, who most definitely was a Marilyn Monroe fan.
He sprung to his feet. ‘You’re sleeping with a girl who’s been in Marilyn’s dress!’ he said. ‘That’s fucking incredible!’
‘Er…yeah. Is it?’ I wasn’t really sure. I thought that maybe you need to be a true fan to feel that way.
However, as I slept with my girlfriend that night I did find it a little bit strange. The image of her in that dress kept popping into my head – and I wasn’t sure that I entirely liked it. She’s been in Marilyn’s dress. Is this turning me on? My God, I think it might be. It was a weird evening for me, and I decided to block out the Marilyn image as best I could from then on.
Unfortunately, Tony’s appetite had been whetted now. A few months later he returned from New York with a large, flat white box under his arm.
‘You’re not going to believe what I got!’ he said. ‘The greatest piece of Monroe memorabilia ever!’
I eyed him curiously as he placed the box on the floor in front of me.
‘That scene form the Seven Year Itch?’ he said. ‘When she’s standing over the air vent and the dress blows up around her waist?’
I couldn’t believe it. ‘You got the dress?’
‘I got the air vent!’
He opened the box and produced a black steel grill. I stared in disbelief at him.
‘How much did you pay for that?’ I said.
‘Doesn’t matter,’ he replied.
‘It’s a fucking vent!’
‘I know, I know, but wait.’
He slowly raised the vent above our heads and peered up through the gaps in the steel.
‘Ah….’ he said. ‘Just imagine.’
I stared up though the vent – and I have to say it wasn’t the proudest moment of my life. This poor woman – even as a ghost she can’t avoid stalkers. It’s terrible.
So I’m done with her. I’m sorry, Marilyn. I know it’s going to come as a bit of a shock, but it’s over. What? No, there’s no one else. It’s not about that, honestly. I don’t care what Cleopatra says, she’s a lying little bitch. I’ll see you later.