Kids in middle school always asked me what celebrity I had a crush on, and I never knew how exactly to tell them, “I don’t really have a crush on anyone I don’t know” without sounding like I didn’t understand that celebrities were “hot”. This was, I believe, post-Cindy Crawford and climbing into Peak Jennifer Aniston, which I think was what everyone liked only because movies and TV, respectably, told them to.
In retrospect, I was always bad at figuring out who to worship and why. When my friend asked me to collect basketball cards with him, he collected Grant Hill and Jason Kidd rookie cards and I collected J.R. Rider cards because I thought that winning the slam dunk contest meant you were the best basketball player. When I started playing guitar, I thought John Petrucci (Dream Theater) was the best because he played the most notes. I think I eventually settled on Eliza Dushku as my celebrity crush, even though I had very little invested in her besides her role in Bring It On and I think I just picked someone who seemed the most confident and the most likely to turn me down on a date. This criteria would soon lead to all kinds of tiny heartbreaks in middle school.
In my young years, I picked idols who were the furthest thing away from me as possible. I loved what was magic and unattainable, what was spectacular and out of reach for someone growing up surrounded by aggressive moderation. It was stereotypically British in a way — just sort of reinforcing my station in life as someone who will never dunk, and never be able to play the guitar solos that I really wanted to, and never get the cheerleader. Had someone given me a comic book at this very specific point of my life, I would have been obsessed.
I’m glad I can’t remember the first time when I was younger, the first time I had to temper expectations. I don’t know how old I was, but I can’t imagine being a parent and hearing your kid conk his head on the first of many ceilings in his/her life.
Of course you got older and you get to know yourself incrementally better each year. I started to love things that were like me — that started to fit into whatever mold I was pressing, and reflect my life around me. I got into playing and listening to jazz because I was bored with the notes on the page and I wanted to make something of my own. I quit playing basketball because I could not drive to the left-hand side of the hoop and also I was afraid of getting hurt. I liked girls who were nice to me. Maybe this isn’t tempering expectations, which isn’t so bad. Maybe I wish I could better recall the moments when the things I loved started to reflect the person I was becoming because the connection was born out of reality, not fantasy.
Just trying to figure out why I don’t relate to comic books.