Wanted to Take Norma Jean to See 'The Outlaw'
My Mom Didn't Like Norma Jean
It really wasn't anything personal — she just didn't like anyone whom she perceived to be drawing my attention away from her. At 33, she'd already been through four failed marriages, and I don't know how many other unsuccessful relationships.
I was her only child, and as time passed she became more and more dependent on my being there for her.
Not only had she become unnervingly hyper-dependent, she had always been very domineering — and of late had been increasingly trying to control every aspect of my life. That's why I never brought Norma home to meet her — and also why I was always on the lookout for the first available opportunity to move away from my mom and be out on my own. Quitting high school had just been the first step in that direction.
Anyway, she kept asking me to bring Norma around — and my refusal to do so didn't do anything to alleviate her fears of losing me altogether. She knew what Norma looked like because of a couple of photos I had. One was a studio portrait, but the other was a snapshot of her standing on her front porch. From the latter photo my mom could readily see that Norma Jean, even though conservatively dressed, was very full-figured for a lass of just 14.
"What — is she a little overweight?" asked my mom rather sarcastically.
"Are you kidding?" I responded. "She couldn't be more perfectly proportioned.
"Well, she'll probably put on weight as she gets older. What's her mother like — a little on the dumpy side?"
"What are you talking about?" I said, "She has a better figure than you do."
Well, that was the wrong thing to say.
The cupboard doors never stopped slamming and the pots and pans never stopped banging around our apartment for the rest of that day. And I'm sure my mom polished off at least one extra pack of cigarettes before the day ended.
Getting back to Norma Jean, I did kiss her every chance I got, although it never seemed often enough. I even got to where we would see a movie at some place other than the Campus Theater, just so that I could take her home in a taxi, and try to get in a little smooching on the way back.
But once a girl lets you kiss her, and then kisses you back, you really don't want to stop there. But that's where Norma made it stop. Although at times I thought I would surely die from the frustration I felt at Norma Jean's determination to remain a nice girl, I truly believe being a teenager and keeping your hormones under control was a lot easier in those days.
Sure, pinup bathing beauties were used to advertise everything from toothpaste to motor oil in those days, just as they are today, but the bathing suits weren't string bikinis that left practically nothing to the imagination.
Nor did we see condoms casually displayed next to the shampoo and shaving cream in our local grocery stores. One had to discreetly ask a pharmacist for a package of these — or, at least, so I was told.
And we didn't get bombarded from every direction with movies and television and magazines and pop songs that suggested that "everybody was doing it." Certainly girls like Norma Jean weren't doing it. She was the kind of girl you'd have to marry before there would be any doing of it. But that was okay. I knew I wanted to marry her from the first time she smiled at me. But what does one do in the meantime? Kissing goodnight on the front porch is nice — but it's awfully hard to stop there.
Come to think of it, I guess being a love-struck teenager was just as hard then as it is now.
For instance, you couldn't get her off your mind by taking yourself to an R-rated movie or by picking up a show-all girlie magazine like you can today (not to mention what's available on the Internet). Movies in those days usually made only subtle references to sex — and persons involved in illicit affairs would invariably be made to pay for their sinful ways before the film was over.
Anyway, about the only thing left for a guy to do was to take the proverbial cold shower.
The Outlaw — Outlawed by the Catholic Church
But there was always the hope that if a movie did come along that was a little more suggestive than the others, maybe she'd go see it with you and, hopefully, get just as excited as you would. So when "The Outlaw" finally got released after being banned for a couple of years because of Jane Russell's scandalous romp in the hay with Billy the Kid and her subsequent joining him in bed to keep him from "dying of the chills" (not to mention her wearing that form-fitting low-cut blouse) I couldn't wait to invite Norma to go see it with me.
That's when I found out about the Catholic "blacklist."
It seems they published a periodic list of all the movies and plays you shouldn't see, the books you shouldn't read, and I don't know what else. Well, guess which film was right up at the top of their movies not to be seen list. So I assumed there was also no way I'd ever get her to go with me to one of those "art" theaters downtown where they showed French and Italian movies, some of which were even known to show a bare bosom on occasion.
But, much to my delighted surprise, she said yes when I asked her to go to see Ken Murray's Blackouts.
I had only recently discovered you didn't have to be at least 18 to get in — I had heard it was strictly an "adults only" stage show.
In any case, I can only surmise that the church blacklisters must have somehow accidentally overlooked it, because the show — although it was primarily a comedy variety revue — was laced with plenty of material that should have put it near the top of one of their lists.