My mom had David Cassidy. Friends had Rick Springfield, New Edition, New Kids on the Block and Michael J. Fox. My sister and I lovingly adored Hanson, ‘NSYNC and, occasionally, Devon Sawa and Jonathan Taylor Thomas (oh yes, J.T.T.!). And now, in yet another chapter of “teenage rites of passage,” my 12-year-old cousin has Zac Efron, the Jonas Brothers and “High School Musical.” It’s hard to believe we’ve already gotten to that teen-crush stage, but I’m happy we’re able to share some of that heart-pining misery!
Now, I’m 23 years old — not exactly beyond the realm of school-girl crushes. And I still have a few! Start up a friendly chat about John Mayer, James Franco or James McAvoy and I’m right there with my latest spate of celebrity gossip. Either I really dig boys with “J” names in general or I’m never beyond the realm of ogling a cute guy.
Do we ever really get beyond the realm of ogling a cute guy?
And even though Hanson has been out of the limelight for ten years or so, my sister and I have religiously followed their careers, marriages, children and various other activities since I was 11 — and she was 8. Eight years old! That’s not something you easily part with.
And my mom reminded me in 1997, as she reminds me now, that these fads come and go — all young women need someone to screech and squeal and discuss at slumber parties and walks around the mall. Take the Beatles as Exhibit A. Does anyone really get over their first-time-discovery love of the Beatles? It’s pretty much impossible.
It might be easier as we get older to discount these fantasies as silly, the harmless emotional wanderings of an adolescent girl who hasn’t realized that boys in “real” life will, eventually, stop playing coy and aloof long enough to acknowledge how beautiful they are. And girls will stop acting giggly and silly long enough to actually return their phone calls. We do stop playing these games, but it takes a while.
And even when we do, it’s hard to let go of these first crushes. In some ways, Taylor Hanson feels like my first love! I know that sounds ridiculous and would probably make my boyfriend feel . . . squishy inside. I actually got in a fight with a boyfriend once over the fact that if given the chance, I would “leave him” for Taylor. And apparently I didn’t argue quickly enough that No, of course not, sweetie, I would never! Probably because it was so ridiculous, it didn’t occur to me that he was genuinely waiting for a rebuttal. So I laughed. We fought. It ended. Not because of Taylor, of course, but because of . . . the idea of something more.
I read an article years ago that basically said these cyclical teenage girl obsessions keep coming back — time and time again — because young ladies need a place to channel their energy, and they’re not quite emotionally ready for a real “boyfriend” yet. Falling “in love” with a celebrity is much, much easier — they can’t really hurt you, disappoint you, cheat on you or leave you. Sure, they can date someone in their own separate lives, but you’re free to continue your daydreaming in math class as though his actress girlfriend doesn’t exist. Now I’m not sure I’d take it that far, but I would definitely venture to say 12-year-old girls need somewhere to channel their effervescent enthusiasm — and a boyfriend is not the way to go quite yet.
So all hail “High School Musical,” Zac Efron and the cute boy band singers and curly-topped actors of the world! Kate and I will be up early tomorrow to take our cousin to see the movie. And hey, I just might sit there and ogle Zac myself! And Taylor Hanson, if it doesn’t quite work out with your beautiful wife and children . . . you know where to blog me!