Image from Sunset Boulevard 1950 (last scene)Starring Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond.
I missed my calling I was the consummate actress, in concealing that all was not well, I did it so well it became a way of life.
The daily mantra of “I’m fine” echoed in my ears, but seemingly believed by many, it’s a kind of coping mechanism fooling people, a lame excuse but the best I can come up with.
I was great at getting others to open up and talk about themselves, it was part of my job too, however I used it to quiet the white noise in my head, otherwise I might just have to deal with that.
Whenever asked the question”how are you”? the answer always the same “I’m fine” and gave my widest smile to prove it, now I think it probably looked like a rictus grin, but hey I couldn’t let my mask slip, I was giving a performance.
it’s amazes me still how I managed to function, as when at home I would cry for hours or even stranger lose several hours, thinking I was just sitting for 10 minutes and finding it was 4-5 hours later, that used to scare me, mainly because I couldn’t even remember what I was thinking about.
I was so exhausted all the time, but come morning, I’d dress put my face on, my mask over that and face the day, it’s a wonder I didn’t buckle under then, the weight of pretence was so great. I often wonder now if I looked slightly bonkers to others, all that makeup trying to hide puffy red eyes, lipstick bleeding onto my teeth, the chain-smoking the endless chatter and nervous laughter.
I remember the night my poor asst mgr found me curled up on the office floor sobbing, I’d been going through a tough time at work, well I was being bullied, by my boss, what with everything else bubbling away and him in my face all the time I had a crisis as the councillor called it, anyway my asst mgr bless her managed to get me into a chair and brought me a large brandy I made some excuses and got her out of the office.
With a superhuman effort I got myself together and was able to finish the shift, the next day my asst, asked if all was ok and of course the reply was “I’m fine” she looked doubtful, but didn’t really pursue it, she told me later, that she’d been concerned for a while, but didn’t know how to approach me and I always said “I was fine” and my behaviour sometimes was erratic as she succinctly put it.
Fast forward when the second massive crash came I’d barely time to learn my lines, there was no hiding place, the mask was in place, but I was no longer in control of the script as it were, the rest has already been recorded in previous blogs.
In the last scene of Sunset Boulevard, Norma now having completely lost it and killed her lover, the police were there, she stood at the top of the stairs watching all the activity, cleared her voice wafted down the stairs and said:
“Mr De Mille I’m ready for my close up”