The giant eyes. The stylish red scarf. The upturned collar. The fancy gloves and the fast car. The fact that he was a demon on wheels who would be chasin' after someone. I wanted that someone to be me.
My first crush was on Speed Racer. It didn't matter to me that he was technically a cartoon character. The fact that his lips were merely two-dimensional didn't bother me a bit. Kissing was gross and boys still had cooties, but something about Speed made my knobby 5-year-old knees go weak and my little heart pitter-patter beneath my Garanimals. Speed was my first love. Distant. Unobtainable. Probably gay. Seemed right to me.
Then love became...exciting and new. And I went overboard for Gopher on "The Love Boat." Look at that image. Put some floppy ears and waxy black nose on that guy, a 1-800 number for the Humane Society below his bow tie, and you'd be sending in a donation before reading the rest of this paragraph. Gopher was everybody's buddy, but no one's lover. The sad and dejected one. The one that needed someone to take care of him. At 10 years-old, I was pretty sure that someone should be me.
Or Billy Idol's. Or Michael Jackson's. Or River Phoenix's. My crushes started to multiply in numbers and before long, my gerbil wheel was so full and active that I barely had room left in my brain for simple self-care. Teeth brushing seemed nearly impossible as it required multiple steps that were not about planning the wedding of me and Adam Ant. Or Matt Dillon.
Before long, my crushes extended to real live people sitting one or two desks over from the classroom. How could I be expected to learn to balance a checkbook with Geoff Merker and his starchy white shirt two rows over? Or Tim Kelly and his converse hi-tops in the next pod? I couldn't possibly concentrate on French with Neal Caine parlez-ing Francias in my ear or with Keith Florez's pinkie bumping into mine in the middle of a science lab. The world was electrified by boys and they were everywhere.
She gets us, they think. She really gets us.