Wrestling Mariel Hemingway
By Rodger Jacobs
I would like to say right out the gate and for the permanent record that I am not attracted to other women. I have been married with varying degrees of happiness for ten years. My husband is a wonderful man and a profoundly successful real estate developer who is gifted with astonishing precognitive capabilities that have always kept him one step ahead of the curve.
I love my husband dearly and he never fails to demonstrate his devotion to me. But the Mariel Hemingway issue is starting to put a severe strain on our marriage.
It started long before I married Steve, when I was sixteen to be precise. I spent a lot of time at the movies when I was young. Growing up in Anaheim I had a wide choice of movie theaters to choose from. There was a multiplex in the mall in Garden Grove not too far from the Crystal Cathedral and just down the street from our house was a pretty decent ninety-nine cent theater that played a lot of family movies like those old films from Sunn-Schick Classics, was it? You know, the Grizzly Adams movies and the “Chariots of the Gods” and Nostradamus kind of stuff. Every now and then, though, the ninety-nine center would play a decent double feature. That’s where I saw “Manhattan” and “Lipstick” on a double bill and my dreams have never been the same since.
When I say “dreams” I don’t mean wishes and aspirations but literally dreams, the variety that come to you in sleep. Mariel Hemingway was in both movies I saw that fateful day. In fact, it was “Lipstick” – which was quite a horrid movie, really – that made her a star. It was Mariel’s debut feature and she played the sister of her real-life sister, Margaux Hemingway, may she rest in peace. What was ironic was the fact that “Lipstick” was supposed to be a star vehicle for Margaux but things worked out the other way around. And as far as “Manhattan” is concerned, what can I say? It’s a modern-day classic, or so the critics say, and in the darkness of the theater that afternoon I was astonished at the range this beautiful creature displayed in two uniquely different films.
I didn’t tell Steve about the dreams until we were well into our second year of marriage. At first he laughed it off as a silly recurring dream but when he realized the serious intensity of the nocturnal wanderings of my mind he opted for some rather unique therapy. This was back in the day when the Hollywood Tropicana was still up and running, though just barely. The club was on Western Avenue in Hollywood between Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevard. The night that Steve and I went to the Tropicana they had only recently lost their liquor license due to one violation or another. The cover was ten dollars with a two soft drink minimum.
The main attraction at the Tropicana then – as always – was the oil and mud wrestling. The dancers first come out and do a tasteful strip with costumes and then the customers who want to get in on the action bid for the girl and the winner of the bid gets to wrestle with the dancer.
None of the dancers at the Tropicana that night even vaguely resembled the six foot tall, leggy blonde that Mariel Hemingway is but Steve said that wasn’t the point of the exercise. He placed the high bid – sixty dollars – on a very pretty Thai girl with long, jet-black hair, legs like a powerful race horse, and curvaceous hips. Her name was Maru. Close enough to Mariel, huh?
“Are you doing this for your old man?” Maru asked as she led me up a flight of dark stairs to the second floor where the showers and dressing rooms were.
“No, it’s for personal reasons,” I confessed.
“You like girls?” Maru asked with an arched eyebrow.
“Absolutely not,” I shot back.
She handed me a pair of tight shorts and an oversized Hollywood Tropicana T-shirt to change into and while I was doing so I told her about the recurring dream I had since sixteen, the dream about wrestling Mariel Hemingway that invaded my sleep at least once a week without fail.
Maru said nothing in reply. I suppose in her line of work she had heard stranger stories.
When we took to the stage the men surrounding us began hooting and hollering like a bunch of raving chimpanzees. Even though the club no longer sold alcohol it was clear that most of the patrons were liquored up before they got there.
The experiment was a failure. First of all, Maru knew her stuff. She had me pinned inside of a minute and I must confess that I didn’t like it. I was flat on my back with my legs splayed and her long black hair in my face. Her breath was hot on my neck and that was just downright annoying.
Steve and I didn’t talk all the way home that night and we never mentioned the Tropicana incident again.
One night about six months ago the meaning of the dream was finally revealed to me. Mariel Hemingway was on Larry King Live on CNN – of course I have Mariel programmed into my TIVO so I know whenever she’s going to be on TV. Mariel was talking about her life-long battle with depression. At one point someone on the panel used the phrase “wrestling with depression.”
“That’s it,” I said, grabbing Steve’s forearm so tight I left a bruise that didn’t go away for a week. “Wrestling with depression.”
Steve looked at me like I had just stepped off the surface of Mars but for me everything suddenly fell into place. Mariel mentioned to Larry King that she had her depression under control now and I understood why. I knew what those weekly visitations in my sleep, what those limb entanglements with Mariel Hemingway, actually meant.
I am Mariel Hemingway’s depression.
© 2004-05, Rodger Jacobs
All Rights Reserved