When I posted a link to this blog on my facebook page, the first response was, “You so reek Meryl Streep fan!” It came from my niece, Jeni, and was accompanied by a little smiley-face with tongue sticking out. :P
My answer was basically, "It's my name, too!" I also said something about 'not-so-much reek as tongue-in-cheek.'
I am not comfortable with this.
It is true I do love Meryl. Some might add words like “obsessed,” “deranged,” “deluded,” “scary.”
I have spent a large chunk of my life watching Meryl on the screen. After much thought and years of therapy, I have come to believe that part of whatever it is I love about her is simply a reflection of me. How narcissistic is that, right? Yes, but also no. As I mentioned in my first blog post, there are characters roaming around my head; she is one of them. (Stay tuned on that idea. There will be more, I promise.) She and I are interested in similar things and she so often explores them on screen with an effect that keeps me thinking, and identifying. “Yes, I see. This is the way it was intended.” Sometimes not so much.
My first ‘meeting’ with Meryl came when I was probably ten or so. I was squatted on the floor of our patchwork-carpeted basement where we kept the TV. I spent many hours - days practically - in that basement. Growing up with eight sisters had its pluses and not-so-pluses. One was a lot of alone time and my imagination went wild. Meryl is connected to this spot in the basement and the patchwork carpet. There, my mother and I watched her squint from the screen as a very bright set of headlights flooded her car’s rear-view. I remember noticing the tensed jaw on my mother's face. I do not remember realizing that Meryl’s character would be dead soon after.
Meryl has become such a part of my life and thinking, that I thought it would be fun to open a vaudeville dinner theatre. I would call the place “Life on Merrell Street.” Even today I think it’s a fabulous idea. Its central theme would be ‘where celebrity and everyday mortals meet.’ More specifically, where Merrell and Meryl meet. There would be photos plastering the walls, some mine, some from other photographers. Maybe some from two of my nieces, Jeni and Ariel. Both are brimming with talent and visual sense.
I would bring in dishes from chefs I’ve come to know and love. One is my former partner, Adam. Another is his brother, Matthew.
People would sit and enjoy delicious food while watching the theatre part of it. This would consist of stand-up comedy, sketches, musical numbers, and possibly even one-act plays. Who knows, maybe something even grander would develop. In my fantasy of the perfect execution, Meryl herself would make an appearance, likely while I was dressed-up and delivering some satire-laden version of her. “I had a farm in Bushwick, at the foot of Clinton Hill!” looking longingly into the distance from another end of the Brooklyn Bridge. She would come storming onto the stage. “What is going on here, boys?!” and grab a microphone, voice booming.
The truth is this theatre will probably never materialize, but the fantasy is real; at least to me. That fame and world-renown could somehow more fully validate my existence and eradicate any shady marks from my past, present, or future, is a powerful notion.
“We love you, Merrell. Oh how we love you!” It looks pathetic. What can I say?
The truth is we all have something inside we wish to express. All of us want to be recognized and loved; thought worthy of love and welcome in the world. This, I believe, is not unique to me. And the fact that Meryl Streep is still such a powerful celebrity at her advancing age not only refutes the idea that women have no role after forty, but also tells me there are a hell of a lot of people who identify with her work aside from me.
There will be more to come on all of this. After all, I did name the blog as a nod to my vaudeville theatre. This is also where Merrell and Meryl meet.
One thing to remember, though, is this - I wasn’t accurate when I said to Jeni, “It’s my name, too!” In truth, it’s not my name, too. It’s just my name. Merrell.
All the rest is fantasy; lovely as it may be.