What’s more embarrassing than reminiscing about old flames? Reminiscing about old crushes. Enough time has passed that I’m willing to reveal a few of my own adolescent infatuations. Are you ready to feel the love?
The first crush I remember having was on Jimmy from H.R. Pufnstuf. Mind you, I can barely remember a thing about the show, other than Jimmy and his stunning bowl cut. (From what I now know, bowls were a mainstay of the Pufnstuf world.)
A few years later, I really went gaga for Shaun Cassidy. And why wouldn’t I? He could sing (at least to my 7-year-old ears), he could act, and he was a total fox. I couldn’t get my own hair to feather so perfectly. Tragically, Shaun broke my heart (along with the hearts of millions of other girls, I’m sure) when he got married in 1979.
And here’s where it gets weird. In the aftermath of my heartbreak over Shaun’s nuptials, I started watching a cartoon called Battle of the Planets, which featured five teenagers with superhuman powers who policed the universe in a spaceship. I was immediately hooked, especially on Mark, the team’s commander. I obsessed over Mark in solitude; no one at school watched the show, and it didn’t air very long on our local TV station, WPIX. But it turns out I wasn’t alone; I recently Googled “Battle of the Planets” and found a legion of admirers. If only the Internet had been available when I was in third grade. (Then again, maybe I was better off.)
Honestly, I think there would have been something wrong with me if I hadn’t ended up with a crush on someone from the movie The Outsiders. I liked Ponyboy Curtis in particular because he was not just a “greaser,” as society had unjustly labeled him—he was a sensitive greaser. It also helped that he was played by C. Thomas Howell, 1980s über-babe.
Oh, these three. Jake from Sixteen Candles, Blane from Pretty in Pink, and Andrew from The Breakfast Club pretty much ruined my teenage years. After seeing these movies, I became convinced that it was only a matter of time before the cutest, most popular boy in high school fell madly in love with me. I spent a lot of time waiting for that to happen. Thanks a LOT, John Hughes. (And RIP. I still love your movies, even if your romances are far-fetched.)
When I was in college, my housemates and I were obsessed with the show thirtysomething, and I, in particular, had a thing for angst-ridden advertising exec Michael Steadman. Of course, I didn’t realize that thirtysomething was pretty much an airbrushed fantasy of adulthood. I didn’t understand what it meant to be an adult until I was well on my way to “fortysomething,” and I had to learn most of that the hard way. I’m still not sure if I’m doing it right—though I don’t seem to have as much angst as Michael, so I guess that’s “something.”
The 1990s recall certain special memories for me. Graduate school. Grungy clothes, music, and bad haircuts—and my unbridled crush on FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder from The X-Files. Of course, he was never Fox Mulder to me; he was always Mulder, as he was to everyone on the show, especially his partner, Scully. Mulder was handsome and brilliant and funny, he was driven to expose the Truth, and he would die for Scully. In fact, I think he did die for her in one episode, and was eventually reanimated.
The X-Files ended in 2002, the same year I married my husband. Mere coincidence or pararomantic phenomenon? As Mulder might say, I Want to Believe. Since then, I’ve had my crushes (Daniel Craig as James Bond, Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights, and Raylan Givens from Justified are just a few), but they’ve been nowhere near as ardent. Maybe it’s because I’m too old for such flights of fancy. Maybe I’m just too jaded. Or maybe now that I’ve found real Love, everything else just seems so…two-dimensional.