There’s something so sweet about the first time you enter fandom.
In the yellow bedroom at the bottom of the stairs, my two sisters and I fulfilled our tween passions with double-page spreads from Teen Bop and other magazines. Kirk Cameron featured heavily on our walls. I doubt he was the only one, but he’s the image I can still see in my mind, smiling nerdily back at me.
To say I was a young 7th grader is an understatement. Age-wise, young. Emotionally? Even younger.
I was interested in specific boys in a very vague, undefined way. If any showed interest to me, I was confused. The boy in 5th or 6th grade who told me he wanted to go out? I’m so embarrassed to admit my response...
I told him to drop dead.
I have no defense of this comment, except that I didn’t know how to handle it. You know, the serious pressure of maybe walking around the playground with someone during lunch.
So, Kirk Cameron in all his Growing Pains glory was the ideal crush. Unthreatening, goofy, good kid with very reasonable weekly conflicts. And a good smile. Always been a sucker for that.
Then I started watching Beverly Hills 90210. I wasn’t allowed to watch it, of course — Saturday morning cartoons and The Cosby Show were pretty much the only TV I could watch. But my friend Sarah would tape it for me, on VHS, and bring the tapes over for me to devour surreptitiously while my mom taught her piano lessons.
In such a heightened, sneaky setting, is it any wonder I fell hard and fast for Dylan McKay? I mean, I know, fictional character. So, Luke Perry.
Sideburns. Squinty, troubled eyes. Cheekbones. Needing... who knows what. Definitely a girlfriend to make him whole.
I could be that girl.
Do you remember prom night?
Not your real one, who cares about that — 90210 prom night.
You know, Dylan and Brenda’s big night. You know you do. I won’t say anymore.
I wrote in my journal about Luke Perry.
I can’t reveal anymore than that. Let’s just say I gave waaaay too much thought to how our meet-up would go and the very real potential we had for a relationship.
I’ve had crushes since, of course, including the ill-advised love for Michael Stipe of REM, even though he has never been interested in anyone with ladyparts. (No worry — he clearly just hadn’t met me yet.)
There’s something so sweet about the first time you enter fandom. Kirk Cameron may not star in my kind of movies these days, but he’ll always be my first.
As for Mr. Perry, that’s a less innocent attraction.
I’m not looking, but I have to say I still get a bit squishy when I see him. That first wave of awakening is something that sticks around, even decades later.