August, 1951. Jack takes a break from Congress in Washington, D.C. to judge the first Miss Muscle Beach Contest in Venice Beach, California. After much deliberation, the judges choose a gal with Greta Garbo legs.
Jack surveys the line of beauties to decide which ones to collect phone numbers (what the hell, why not all of them?). He walks over to the newspaper stand and starts reading about the Korean Conflict when he bumps into Marilyn.
‘Excuse me,’ he says as he lingers for a while.
‘That’s quite all right,’ she answers in a breathy voice. She continues her conversation with a man in horn-rimmed glasses. She’s a vision in a frilly two piece polka-dotted bathing suit.
Marilyn and the man both look at Jack who is standing there pretending to read trying not to look awkward.
‘It was nice meeting you, Mr. Bradbury,’ she says as she turns to Jack. They walk along the sandy shore and palm trees.
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to cut your conversation short,’ he says in his Boston accent.
‘It’s okay, I had been talking to him for a while now. In fact, I was on my way to the Miss Muscle Beach Contest but he was so interesting. He’s a science fiction writer and I study literature at UCLA. By the way, you don’t sound like you’re from around here. On vacation?’
He doesn’t answer right away. He’s in a daze from her voice. Then he snaps himself back. ‘Yes. I’m a congressman.’
‘A congressman? Oh my. Do I call you sir?’
‘Nah. Just Jack. Wanna swim?’
The water is cool against the Los Angeles heat. It feels good against the wrenching back pain he got from saving men’s lives on the PT-109 in the war. Marilyn jumps up and down laughing in the waves. She glistens like a mermaid, she belongs in the water.
He thinks about his father pressuring him to marry. He’s 34 years old and needs to run for the senate if he’s going to run for president. He can’t do that as a single man.
This was his older brother’s job but he died in the war. Jack was supposed to do what he wants like sun on the beach, swim with lovely blondes and judge beauty contests. He wasn’t supposed to settle down and run for president.
Dad will never accept Marilyn. Besides, she’ll never want to be a boring senator’s wife in Washington. Jack can’t see her going to tea, stuffing those boobs into a suit jacket as she chats with other senator wives. Imagine her trying to talk to Mother about sending the kids to boarding school. Not in this lifetime.