Maybe Another Time

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I was sweating out the summer of 1960 in a tenement in New York City’s Greenwich Village when a college friend offered me his family’s apartment for the month of August. It was a luxurious spread with a terrace at 2 Sutton Place, one of the city’s grander addresses. On my way to the elevator the morning after installing myself in my elegant digs, I glanced at the name tag on my neighbor’s door. “M. Monroe,” it read, in raised black ink in a businesslike type.

It couldn’t be, I thought. I asked the building’s doorman, and he confirmed that my neighbor was indeed Marilyn Monroe.

“Do you ever see her?” I asked.

“Not enough.”

After I had been in the apartment a week, I decided to celebrate my month of high life by having a few friends over for a barbecue on the terrace. I had just put a steak on the grill when I told my guests that Marilyn Monroe lived next door. One promptly piped up, “Well then, why don’t you trot over and ask her to join us?” Surrounded as I was by good friends on an elegant terrace in the mellow dusk of an August night, I suddenly thought that inviting Marilyn Monroe over seemed a plausible thing to do.

I turned the care of the steak over to my guests and made my way to Miss Monroe’s door. Ten seconds after I had pressed the buzzer, it swung open.

She was wearing an ankle-length terry cloth robe belted snugly at the waist and slipper scuffs of the same material. Her hair stood out a bit from her head; probably she had been brushing it. It gave off an aura of shampoo and of course was very blond. Her mouth was flawlessly lipsticked bright red, just like on the posters. Her blue eyes peered into mine, calmly inquiring, and her lips pursed into a bemused half-smile.

“I’m your neighbor for the month of August,” I blurted. “I’m having a few friends over for a barbecue, and, I, uh—”

“Was just wondering...,” Marilyn Monroe supplied for me.

“If you would like to—”

“Join us!” She finished, smiling. “It’s very nice of you to think of me, but I’m already late for something else. Thank you for the invitation. Maybe another time. Good night.” Before she gently swung her door closed, she offered a dazzling smile.

My expression was enough to convince my guests that I had indeed had a conversation with Marilyn Monroe.

“She said, ‘Maybe another time,’” I told them. They greeted this with howls.

But she had said it.