And They Call It Puppy Love
August 23rd is my 9-year wedding anniversary! Thank you very much. I know it’s a tad inappropriate to use this as a springboard opportunity to reflect on my past loves. But you should know, before Mark there were other loves in my life. Many, many. Shocking but true. Yes, my imaginary boyfriends. I just now tried to count them all and it came out to about 63. But since people prefer countdown lists to be even-steven and tidy, I’ve condensed this to a solid list of 10. And I’ve put them in order of heartache occurrence.
Wait! You there of the opposite persuasion – don’t go! First, I have this picture to offer up. Now, please stick with me to the end. I promise you’ve never heard a teen idol story like #10. (Get it, “10”?)
1.) Age 5: Shaun Cassidy. My friend Katie and I whipped-up this weeklong crush after watching The Hardy Boys. Later, our favorite swing set chant became: “Shaun Cassidy, yum-yum! Shaun Cassidy, yum-yum!” (Repeat.) The yum-yum part was our clever twist on his last name because we believed “Cassidy” and “casserole” were interchangeable. As in, “Yes, Mommy, I’d love some more Tuna Noodle Cassidy.” Just an example. I can assure you I would’ve never eaten any form of casserole back then.
3.) Age 6: Ricky Schroder. (TV’s Silver Spoons.) Adorable and rich. The TV-Ricky, that is. He had a racecar bed and a duck phone that quacked. Adorable! These possessions did not work as well for upping the sex appeal of his TV dad. Who instead came off carnival-creepy while riding a life-sized model train through their living room.
2.) Age 7: Michael Jackson. My first interracial crush.* Once the Thriller album hit stores, my friend Jodi and I were goners. We must’ve watched her beta tape of The Making of Thriller a couple dozen times. I’d like to note two glaring oddities on that video. First, Michael Jackson giggling while being tickled by director John Landis (see it here). Second, a woman waiting in line to see Michael Jackson saying she likes him because, “He’s so down to earth.”
(*If you must know, my first interracial crush was actually Age 6: DeBarge, thanks to my YMCA aerobics instructor’s fever for his “Rhythm of the Night” song. But I’d prefer to pretend him away after finding this recent mugshot online.)
4.) Age 8: Ralph Macchio. I’m convinced that Ralph time-traveled forward from 1964 after voicing Rudolph on my favorite claymation Christmas movie. Ralph and Rudolph: “She thinks I’m cuuuuute!” Play the audio of the Rudolph movie timed with The Karate Kid movie and it aligns perfectly. Mr. Miyagi even says his “sand the floor” bit exactly when the Burl Ives Snowman starts singing “Silver and Gold.” But you have to start it precisely when the MGM lion roars the third time or you’ll blow it.
5.) Age 9: John Cusack. You might be thinking, the movie Say Anything? Better Off Dead? No, The Journey of Natty Gann. Get this. Disney depression-era movie about a girl who rides the rails to find her dad. John plays “Crazy Drifter Guy.” A banged-up fedora never looked so good.
6.) Age 10: Michael Schoeffling. Um, who? Oh, yes, Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles. I’ve scoured my mental rolodex of teen movies hunks and I don’t believe there was ever one cuter-looking or cuter-named. Jake Ryan. Say it a few times and you’ll see what I mean.
7.) Age 12: Giovanni Ribisi. (TV’s My Two Dads.) Every girl I knew who watched that show was so like, “Oh, Chad Allen!” And I was so like, “Huh-uh. Vonni Ribisi.” And they were so like, “No way.” And I was all like, “Yeah.” And they were all, “Huh-uh.” And I was so like, “What. Ever.”
9.) Age 13: Davy Jones. If he’s good enough for Marcia Brady, he’s good enough for me. When The Monkees hit syndication on Nick at Nite and that sexy accent graced my innocent ears, I swear to you, my Yankee heart began pumping British blood.
10.) Age 14: The Nelson Twins. (AKA Ricky Nelson’s sons. AKA Matthew and Gunnar. AKA two-hit, long-haired wonders.) Matthew had bangs and Gunnar didn’t. That’s how my friend Kelley and I could tell them apart. That and Matthew had this little crinkle-dimple thing over his left eyebrow when he squinted and Gunnar got the same thing when he wrinkled up his forehead. But only under the right corner of his lip and only when he laughed. Oh, wow, did that just sound as crazy to you as it did to me? Yes, it did.
True story. I met them seven years ago! I got to drive them around after they flew in to perform for a fundraiser I was helping organize. Despite that they looked sort of like funhouse mirror reflections of their former selves, I got completely freaked out scared out of my mind ready to pass out on the ground when I saw them not because they were my former teen idols in the flesh right there in front of me but more because I’ve never hung around anyone famous before okay not really famous just sort of famous okay borderline famous and so I started talking really fast about I don’t even know what I was saying and half the time they weren’t even listening but just nodding along and smiling uncomfortably because I was being so completely weird and asking inane questions about their hotel and their short hair and why they cut it all off hahaha and oh crap that was a big mistake because Gunnar got all defensive and asked me to tell him well why did I cut off my hair and I said I don’t know and he said exactly and I wanted to say no no honestly I wasn’t trying to insult him but I was just really freaked out of my mind and then thank goodness it was all smoothed over later and he was really nice to me and asked about Cornhusker football and runza sandwiches hahaha except then when I posed for a picture and leaned in next to him he made some crack about how I shouldn’t worry because hahahaha that thing I felt pushing into me was just his cell phone in his pocket hahahahahahahaha…or was it?
And that was the exact moment when I returned to earth. And swore off teen idols forever.
Do you have your own century-old Tiger Beat confessions to make? Spill it. In case my brother doesn’t volunteer this one. Diane from The Price is Right.