Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Hollywood True Story: Miss Jean Louis

The Hollywood True Story: Miss Jean Louis

October 1961
I don’t remember the exact day I met him. I remember the frost in the air as winter tickled its teasing fingers in and out of the days and nights and pulling my scarf farther up my neck to cover my mouth as I gazed upon the children still playing in Central Park. The sun was beginning to set and parents were shouting for their little ones to come so they could leave. I back stepped onto the path and nearly fell as someone brushed against me. His murmured apologies as he steadied me before backing away and walking faster caught me off guard, but more so was the sense of wonderment I felt at being touched by someone who seemed so untouchable. The presidential election was close to fruition and this man, this heart-throb, was the leading candidate, a man admired by most and chosen to win.
I knew I had to have him—in some way, shape, or form. I knew I had to know him. You see, many underestimate my stubborn nature and extreme passion. When something or someone stumbles across my path and they make me feel something other—a deeper connection of sorts—I know, deep down in my bones, they are not ones to get away. And he wasn’t one I could just leave to a simple stroke of the arm and steadying of the back.
Before my brain could really process the repercussions, I found myself running after him and snagging his coat with the tips of my fingers. He turned around and I tilted my head to the side while my eyes burned a path from his hairline to his jaw. He was a magnificent being. His face strong, stoic, though his eyes told a different story. They were warm, inviting, and something about the way he viewed me cemented my decision in knowing this man. He was one of a kind.
Our conversation blossomed and we went to dinner that same night. He told me about his ambitions for the future of America while I remained mesmerized by his every word. If there was one word I could wrap around this man to bundle his whole persona up in a tidy bow, it would be charisma. He had it in the bucket loads and it wasn’t long before I decided we needed to know each other on another, more cellular, level. He was engrossing and had me squirming in my seat with each breath behind every word he spoke. The words didn’t matter at that point. I had to have him.

November 1961
                  Brushing my hands down my skirt, I paced the small space of my unique New York studio apartment. He was in D.C. awaiting the announcement of his probable election and induction as the thirty-fifth president of the United States. While he had already spent time within the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, I was a mess. I wanted this for him. I wanted his dreams to come true, possibly more than he wanted it, though I couldn’t be sure. His beautiful face flashed on the screen in black and white and then they spanned to his wife. I was still unsure how I felt about him being married, but he assured me their marriage was a business deal of sorts. With our ever-emerging acceptance of relationships, marriage wasn’t as sacred anymore, so I chose to believe him. And I feel I chose right for that time of my life. What we had wasn’t perfect, by any means, but it felt right, and that was all that mattered to me.
                  The announcer came to the stage with the vote numbers intact just as my service cut out. I cursed the world while adjusting my antennas, to no avail. I was left to live in suspense for the remainder of the evening, awaiting a phone call. I sat up for hours, pacing back and forth, eyeing my phone as if I could will the call to come, but it never did. That should have been my first sign.
                  I woke to breath tickling my neck and a warm body laying against my back. Rolling over, I stared up into deep green-grey eyes and every ounce of anxiety I had dissolved with the heat that accompanied his gaze. It had been five days since the election, but before I could utter the question most prevalent in my mind, he closed the space between us, his soft lips pressing against mine. My brain became fuzzy, lost in the sensations that were him. Just him.
                  The next morning, he told me to call him Mr. President. And I did, gladly.

May 1962
                  The dew of spring was making itself known on the blades of grass and flowers blooming once again. My relationship with John had grown exponentially, and while he was gone often due to the demand of being in office, he visited just as often. Our relationship was flourishing and I couldn’t remember a time when I was happier than in those moments. Of course, doubt started to set in at times, but I quickly brushed it away. He phoned almost every night and spoke often of his daily struggles and concerns. He took my opinion and really made me feel like I mattered in his voice as a whole upon the United States. He was a sharer, and a giver. He really was so perfect. That should have been my second sign, but I was blissful and in love.
                  His birthday was coming up within the next week and I had something planned after the fundraising event he was holding at Madison Square Gardens. Since he was going to be in town, we had the weekend to ourselves and I planned to spend every waking moment with him, and then some in the non-waking hours.
                  The night of the fundraising event, I was nervous, but not because I was na├»ve. When he invited me to the event, he told me appearances must be kept, and I understood what he was referring to. The first lady was a fine woman, one who was looked up to on most accounts, and in the eyes of America, she and her husband were very in love. I knew the score, and had met her on numerous occasions in the past. She knew who I was to her husband and we remained cordial as acquaintances. It allowed some ease to the nerves, but something else felt amiss. I had a terrible feeling in my gut. I had been trying to ignore the sensation throughout the past few days, but the knots continued to tighten and I couldn’t figure out why.
                  I mingled for a while at the event before finding my seat. I was across the aisle from John, my seat almost next to his one table over. The crowd for the evening was exquisite and everyone was pleased as punch at being invited to such an honorable affair.
                  As the night wore on, my unease didn’t settle in the slightest and I found myself having one sip of champagne too many. As the dinner nearly drew to a close, one I was very welcoming of, an actress took to the microphone. She was gorgeous, more becoming than many ladies in the room. Her face was familiar and I recalled seeing a film of hers, but that was all. Her voice was small, but husky and sexy at the same time as she spoke his name into the amplifier. My hackles rose as I spun to look toward John, but he seemed just as perplexed at her wanting to make a speech. I continued to watch the exchange between the two of them as she gave her thanks to a great man and president. I couldn’t say I disagreed with her, but I was still so confused. Why did she feel the need to take the stage in the first place? And how did she know John on a level personal enough for her feel so brazen?
                  I chalked my worry up to the alcohol and pushed my questions away. I didn’t have time to feel the jealousy she brought out within me and I didn’t want to ruin my plans for later. The evening came to an end without any more odd occurrences and I was excited to share my surprise—a little “Happy Birthday” song to my president in the privacy of my apartment.

June 1962
                  The tabloids were running amok with false accusations and I couldn’t fathom how my private session with John could have been found out, let alone made into such a mockery of a fundraising event that went off without a hitch. The constant headlines of John having an affair with Ms. Monroe was absurd, on top of claiming she sang the exact rendition of “Happy Birthday” during the event I had shared with my love in the privacy of my home. I was baffled at the audacity, and so angry. The claims made against him had him backing away from our relationship and the rejection hurt. I certainly hadn’t sold any information to the tabloids and the accusations should have been another warning sign, but I was too upset. Why would I want to ruin what he and I shared? I had no interest in ruining his reputation, I only wanted him, and our love to stand a chance.
                  The nights grew colder with how distant he had become. His visits shallowed to one weekend a month and his calls were two nights a week. He was running constant damage control and it seemed all the fingers were pointing toward me. I felt lonely, and hollow. My emotions were on a whirlwind between hurt, sadness, confusion, and anger, and I felt myself retreating into a dark corner of my mind. It felt like we were ending, like everything special about our love was being paraded around to the public with a different name attached the headlines, but I was lost as to how.
Unfortunately, I was also stuck. I couldn’t necessarily come out to the public about the relationship I had with John—he was fielding enough anger and hate-fueled responses to an affair that never was—and I didn’t want to. What we had was sacred and I didn’t want to ruin our strong bond with more lies and ridicule. I wanted to savor every ounce of time we spend together as he seemed to grow more and more distant to keep his integrity and reputation intact. He didn’t deserve the gossip. He was a good man with strong morals and hearing the public speak so tersely of him made my heart ache and only added to the canyon seemingly separating us.  
December 1962
                  Life went on as days turned into weeks turned into months. John and I got better. We found a sturdier ground and the misfortunes brought upon us seemed to wade into the distance. We were better. Our relationship became more normal and we, as a couple, began to flourish, but by this time, president or not, I was still carrying a heavy weight on my shoulders. He had an image to upkeep, and he was married. It was becoming harder and harder to reconcile to that fact, and that it wouldn’t change. In the end, I would never be his and that’s what started weighing the heaviest. We had been “together” for over a year, yet we were going nowhere. It felt like everything we had, every emotion we felt, meant nothing, and the burden of our secret was starting to become unbearable, but I forged on. I couldn’t not. He meant the world to me and imagining a life without him became difficult. I was his—plain and simple. And he was mine, no matter the circumstance.
June 1963
                  The tabloids were relentless and so many women started speaking out. I had no idea whether I should have believed them, but something was starting to smell fishy where John was concerned. One, he had started becoming so back and forth with things he said and did. He was once so reliable and always there. He made me feel cared for in a way I had never imagined, but then all that stopped and I just started feeling like a resting place for the night. We still shared weekends together when he could get away, but between his job and interference, I felt seventh rate, and I hated the feeling.
                  In February, I had pretty much declared us over. I couldn’t handle any of it anymore and felt like I had lost a piece of myself in the process, which welcomed my second point. As soon as I backed away, he became more persistent and interested. Our one weekend every couple months became two a month and all the phone calls he said he would make, he did. Unfortunately, I was relying on him too much and realized the fault in my ways. I could enjoy him in many physical manners, but he had become unreliable and me wanting distance hadn’t changed what I already knew. He started calling at minimum four times a week and I found myself laughing at how much his ways had changed when I backed away. This only cemented my endeavor to get away. It was a sign I should have already picked up on.
                  I had become cold to him, but not relationships as a whole. I had just found myself and my worth, and honestly, he wasn’t worthy, but I still loved him. One can change everything but the heart, and at the end of the day, my heart was taken by all the attention he decided to give after I made the move. It made me feel even more empowered. I didn’t let the tabloids get to me and took back myself. Though, I was still curious. And all his answers proved innocent. Of course. I had started rolling my eyes at his act of innocence. I was over being that girl who only saw through rose-colored glassed. He could tell me what he would, he could tell me he loved me a thousand times over, but where was the change? It didn’t exist, and I thrived on change. I thrived on growing, and from what I could tell, he was only growing desperate. So why couldn’t I hate him?
I didn’t think I ever would hate him really, but I knew it was my time to say goodbye to him and his life. I was better than him, better than everything we had become. It was good while it lasted, though. I will always have love for him, and I can’t say we didn’t have a great run. Only, just a few short weeks later, we found ourselves together again, in my bed, enjoying what we shared best. And this time, the tabloids found us. My name wasn’t the one spread far and wide, though. It was Marilyn again. Perhaps I looked like her, I’m not sure, but I found myself laughing at the mess he had to clean up at someone else’s expense. It’s a shame now, with what happened to her, and I feel bad about never coming forward with any of it. In fact, it’s a shame that that was the last I time I saw John before he passed away in a horrible accident.
The worst part was that I felt dignified in this media outrage. It felt like the final closure I needed to move on from John. There were many things that happened after that moment, but that’s a story for another time. In many ways, I still feel justified in my actions, but in many others, I feel terrible seeing as I’m still here, still conquering everything this world has to offer, while their lives had ended so soon—too soon. Regardless, I can’t take back my decisions. We all make choices, and I don’t regret mine.

Until next time…
XOXO, Jean Louis