TV Boyfriends: maybe the strictness of my Catholic grade schooling had something to do with my obsession.

061911MSMO042I was sitting outside the principal’s office of my tiny Catholic grade school yet again. Sister Bernadette just couldn’t get her habit around the fact I was in love. She deemed it inappropriate to write “I (heart) Shaun Cassidy!” all over my white pleather Jordache purse with a pink felt pen. I had written the same thing on my Pee-Chee folder, but that time in purple.

What really Frenched her toast was the forbidden Teen Beat magazine found in my desk. But I had to keep it in there — I just had to. I took a picture of myself and pasted it next to Shaun’s face. I told her he wrote “Hey Deanie” for me after he secretly attended my piano recital where I performed a crisp version of “Da Doo Ron Ron.”

Shaun was dreamy on TV, but in my upstairs bedroom, I was his front row audience. We had a super hush-hush friendship: Shaun, his Adam’s apple, and little old fourth-grade me. I wore out the grooves on his vinyl disks. I studied the liner notes of all his albums and even inked in my name as acknowledgment for his inspiration.

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The sexier of the two Hardy Boys was pasted inside my closet wall. Not a poster, but an Elmer’s School Paste collage. Every picture, paragraph, and sentence on Shaun I could find was affixed to that chunk of cardboard. Whenever he was on a glossy page, the headline would scream SHAUN!imagesP2HO43LL

I made him birthday presents and sent them to the address I found in 16 Magazine. I wrote him letters and included my name, address, and telephone number but didn’t need to send a photo since I was certain his closet wall held an anthology of me!
Yes, I had intact mental faculties, and no, I didn’t live in the middle of nowhere without a mall or something better to do. But maybe the strictness of my Catholic grade schooling had something to do with my obsession.

Did I want to marry him? Totally no way! I didn’t even want to date him, mind you. Remember when Victoria Principal got all that hate-mail for dating Andy Gibb?

But soon after The Hardy Boys went off the air, I found my attention flowing naturally to another cutie patootie, Jimmy McNichol. Sister Bernadette planned to nip this new crush directly in the bud. The first time she saw me write my first name with his last name it was one week of eraser banging for me.

What was her problem, anyhoo?

Jimmy was an unsung, under-noticed teen heartthrob and TV boyfriend of my generation. I’m talking about the boys who graced the covers of Teen Beat during the Carter administration. My first sight of Jimmy was him sitting quite poised in an overstuffed chair on The Mike Douglas Show.

He was darling. And he preferred to be called “James.”

What did me in was his flowy brown hair. I liked the movement it made when he was discussing important issues with Mr. Douglas, such as his most prized possession, his ’71 customized Chevy van. And the full disclosure that (gasp!) he wore Musk.

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Back to his shaggy boy “do,” I was a fan of medium-length tresses on men. I was forever Peter Criss when we played Kiss in the lunchroom, and on the playground when playing Charlie’s Angels, I unquestionably was Farrah.

As the schoolboys played War on the blacktop, we progressive gals got to be Angels. We were smart, sassy in our plaid skirts, and somehow had hidden approval to beat up on the boys. When I think about Pickle McNichol and the rest of my grade school crushes, I feel that familiar gooey emotion akin to Bonnie Bell Lip Gloss and Jean Nate Bath Splash.

I get so excited I immediately crave a Candy Stix Cigarette with the famous red tip.

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