Wednesday, January 16, 2008

marilyn monroe as a thing

I decided recently that Marilyn Monroe is one of my all-time favorite blondes.

I know, I know. It seems like a no-brainer. She scored the #9 spot on Forbes' Top Earning Dead Celebrities List in 2007, after all--anyone that lucrative clearly strikes the fancy of many. (She's the only woman on there, too.) But the more I learn about Marilyn, her tragic childhood, her difficult life in the spotlight, and her sad death by her own hand, the more I feel fascinated by her.

In light of this fascination, I decided, on a whim, to purchase these coasters with her image on them from Posh on Tremont Street a few weeks ago. The Mathematician and I were killing time waiting for a table at Aquitaine one Sunday, so we wandered in to look around. Posh is one of those stores that sells expensive nothing: novelties, silly cards, board games with names like "Dog-opoly". "Oooh, they have coasters with Marilyn on them!!!" I exclaimed when I saw the display. "Let's get them!" I guess you could say I got caught up in the moment. $40 and 20 minutes later, there I was eating brunch at Aquitaine, happy as a clam with two boxes full of Marilyn Monroe coasters be my side.

The thing is, part of the reason I bought the coasters because we needed them. I grew up in a coaster house, and have since been trained to use one under all beverages glasses (except those with stems, like wine or martini glasses.) And since I bought them, I've used my Marilyn coasters every day. But last night, while getting up to grab something from the kitchen, I put my glass down on Marilyn's face and it made me feel sad: there was Marilyn's enigmatic smile staring up at me. And there was my pint glass full of l'eau, on top of it. Water swished back and forth in the bottom of the clear glass as the liquid settled; her face swayed back and forth, too, suspended and submarine.

It made me feel sad to commodify Marilyn so because I believe her status as a living, breathing commodity is what drove her nuts. Feeling less a person than a thing, contrived and controlled by other people all the time--it must have been terrible. And I think it's a feeling to which many women can relate. Or at least, I can.

I love those coasters, but now they kind of make me sad.

So, where am I going to put my drinks?

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