As a kid, when you get along better with adults, you learn at a young age that the world is bigger than you probably think. (Thank God.) Also, you learn that (most) people your age are idiots. When you’re a kid, I mean. When you’re a kid.
And NOW I’ll tell you about how I learned about suicide.
I was in kindergarten and all I wanted to do was meet Marilyn Monroe. Only to tell her how great I thought she was and that I knew all her songs by heart and that no one in school understood me. Aren’t school kids so dumb, Ms. Monroe? She’d wear that see-through sparkly dress from Some Like It Hot and we’d hang out, one day. I’d never mention my favorite movies with kids at school just ‘cause I couldn’t afford to be any weirder. Even the Armenian kids in weird-Armenian day school thought I was weird and that didn’t help the old self-image. Marilyn Monroe would understand.
I learned a lot of things on the bus. I saw a person naked; homework got thrown out the window; and was called ‘potato’ a lot in Turkish. It wasn’t cute. The guy who called me that was big and scary and I’d get scared of buses until he got suspended (for something else.) Then there was her. She was just MEAN. She’d boss everyone around and say things like, “Well, OBVIOUSLY, Anoush!” And that made me feel weird. Then there was him. He’d talk about Married With Children episodes he’d (be allowed to) watch and say things like “Do sex” a lot instead of “have sex” and I wanted to tell him that that was linguistically incorrect, but I was a polite kid. Tangent: My favorite getting-back moment on the bus was when she said the new girl was a lesbo. I was the only one who didn’t laugh and they said “Do you know what a lesbo is, Anoush?” “It’s a woman who likes having sex with women more than men. Do YOU know what a lesbo is?” I felt like I was surrounded by people who assumed they knew more than everyone else. Who had no concept that there are things out there much bigger than them. And if they DID have any idea, they didn’t even know to maybe…errr I don’t know, NOT LAUGH about it.
I was the last one to get dropped off and D was the stop before me. We lived in the same town, got along really well; and had a good fifteen minutes of peace together at the end of the busride. The subject of movies came up and I felt like the setting was safe enough to talk Some Like it Hot, and if she thought I was weird, she was quiet and wouldn’t tell anyone. I told her the whole plot. Quickly, of course but was detailed about it. She laughed a lot. She actually seemed interested. I never thought Some Like it Hot, D, and I could ever be in the same room together. Til I said, “Wouldn’t it be great to meet her?”
But you can’t meet her. – Why not. – Cause she’s dead. – No, she’s not. – Yeah she is. Ask my Dad. – When did she die, then? – Before we were born.
(I was sad but embarrassed more because this seemed like common knowledge I just wasn’t aware of. Earth is flat; Armenians think it’s funny to namecall in Turkish; and Marilyn Monroe’s dead.
How, then? Did someone kill her? – She killed herself. She also did bad stuff. (Huh?)
The bus stopped and D stepped out and waved g’bye from her front lawn. I kinda waved sorta.
First my grandfather, now Marilyn Monroe. My face was paralyzed. My Dad opened the front door and I had a million questions for him.
My dad never pronounced her name correctly. It was always Marlon MAHN-ro. I found out Marlon MAHN-ro was never happy and Marlon MAHN-ro wasn’t always smiling like she did in movies. “You know how WE are sad?” (Yes.) “Marlon MAHN-ro was a lot sadder.” Then he said, “And no one helped her.”
I should’ve invited her over and cheered her up, I thought. Ah, right, I wasn’t born yet. It was ALWAYS me not-being-born-yet. It happened a lot with stuff.
Years later, in second grade we had a dress-as-someone-you-admire-and-do-a-report assignment, and the librarian asked my mom if she was SURE she’d want her daughter doing a report on Marilyn Monroe. Ahh, the old patronize. Ehhh, depression-hopelessness-death whatev-SEXISBAD!) What an idiot. She would’ve gotten along real well with the schoolbus kids.