Ode to Childhood Crushes

I was talking with my gal pals W and S recently about an entry I’d found in an old notebook of mine. It was a daily journal from either fourth or fifth grade that I’d write in every morning and turn in to my teacher to grade. The specific entry we were chatting about was one I’d made during the year of Titanic’s first release. Though I had long maintained a hatred for the greasy scoundrel cast as the lead, my tune changed as soon as I saw the movie.
“I can never let anyone know about my love for Leo, especially W and M. They will make fun of me and try to steal him from me!”
Aside from realizing I most likely scared the shit out of my teacher with mass delusions of grandeur, it was priceless re-reading. W and I recalled more of our fangirl insanity, and with the help of an earlier chat with my mom, I realized that despite the craziness of ridiculous celeb crushes, they are definitive moments in our girlhoods. Looking back, these stupid, little infatuations were and are way more than that.
Yes, I think these crushes make all wee gals certifiably mental, and yes, I think we and the generations before us had much better crush material to squeeze on, and yes, even though I think these things are true doesn’t make it less of a right of passage for these new chicks. It does make it more hilarious, but isn’t that the whole point? To laugh at yourself? To look back and say “God damn, what was I thinking?!”
My first crush was Han Solo, swiftly followed by David Bowie in his turn as Jareth the Goblin King. My mom’s first crushes were Jesus and Honest Abe. As different as they are in nature, it all came full circle when my mom discovered the reason I had dubbed the church where I attended pre-school the “Han Solo Church” was because of a cement Jesus partially coming out of the brick building, akin to Han’s stint in carbonite.
Though my first crushes were a little odd but admittedly amazing to recall, I soon hopped on the fresh-faced boy bandwagon. My girlfriends and I all loved the same boys, but with equal fervor and passion. Maybe too much fervor and passion.
W was heartbroken when her up-the-street neighbor stole and destroyed her prized Taylor Hanson photo. I had a full diary dedicated to him and a plethora of his BOP pull-out posters on my wall. We sang along with his brotherly band’s CDs until the day of a yard sale a couple years later when I pawned every one of them.
We worshipped her top-scale poster of JTT as if it were some god before we even knew what idolatry was. I saw The Lion King in the movie theatre as many times as I could muster and dreaded the moment Simba hit puberty and lost my crush as his voice over. I coveted my Simba doll because I believed somehow that he was an extension of JTT. I couldn’t bare to be away from it, an observation my mom used to her advantage when I was a little asshole.
My older cousin aided my unending, multiple year, maybe-still-hanging-around love affair with Justin Timberlake. She made me a book full of hard-to-find photos of Mr. Smooth himself, a nickname I probably shouldn’t have known he possessed. I was one of the millions of girls that made their sophomore album break the record for best-selling in the first week. Words can’t describe my devastation when the live show I was set to see got rescheduled to a time that made it impossible for me to attend. It was like I was sure if I could just get him to see me, JT would sweep me off of my feet and love me for who I was for all eternity.
Healthy, right?
Over the years, many other crushes came and went for me, but one day I dropped the tweens for Ewan McGregor, and that was a big metaphor for what was around the corner: boy to man, fantasy to reality, immature to (mostly) mature. Simply put, I evolved. Now I can simultaneously admit how outlandish celeb crushes are and how much better my real-life man is, even if John Mayer did look me in the eyes that one time.
Part of them will always be alive in me because they shaped me, even if I can’t quite figure out how. Part of me will always love them.
Back in college, I downloaded two of the Hanson CDs I’d chucked in childhood. I still swoon when Solo says “I know.” Oh, and I’m most definitely going to see Titanic in 3D, even if I hate the latter so much I want to scream.
P.S. I love you, Simon Pegg.


  1. I loved reading this. I remember having a crush on Han Solo, too, but I think that was about it. Due to a combination of youthful arrogance and a father who remained faithfully in love with the 60s for years, I very seldom heard any contemporary music growing up. I heard a lot of The Doors, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, more Doors, ZZ Top, still more Doors, Moody Blues, Kingston Trio, and then some Jim Morrison reciting poetry. He may or may not totally be my dad's idol.

    I guess that's why I didn't have more celebrity crushes when I was young? Maybe? I don't know. Or possibly I was just too weird and immature. I had zero interest until the very end of 9th grade, although I did have a strange thing where I thought I could communicate with other people using telepathy. I still kind of have that, but it's part of the fun that is borderline, so I'm very shruggy about it. More of a crazy thing than a youthful thing.

    At any rate, I heartily enjoyed your story. You sound like you were awesome even when little. 😉

  2. I will share JTT and his hot little Simba voice with you. 😉
    Also Magnum P.I, Kevin Arnold from the Wonder Years and Aladdin were on this list for me. Yes, I loved a cartoon boy. This is a fabulous post!

  3. It's probably an extremely good trait that you weren't boy crazy 'til later in life! I had a mixture of modern music and “oldies” growing up, so it spawned the weird mixture of crushes on boys and men like Robert Plant. So weird, I was.

  4. After Jesus and Honest Abe came a few television crushes – Captain Kangaroo first – but that was side by side with Jesus and Honest Abe. Then – Richard Long in Bourbon Street Beat, Roger Smith in 77 Sunset Strip, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart in all those “old” movies on the tube. And then – in 1962 when Dr. No came out, I caught my first glimpse of Sean Connery. Even though in 1964 I wanted to be Hayley Mills in the movie The Moon-Spinners so Peter McEnery could be my boyfriend, that was brief . . . and those James Bond movies kept coming out. I was a goner.

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