What if I told you that a leading man has died? Would you roll your eyes at the mere mention of it, “like, Who”?
It might have you wondering on the grand scale of the Kennedy’s or of war heroics. The speaker for a generation. The Lone Ranger, perhaps. Do you already know that spot in your heart I’m talking about, just by announcing that someone important is missing from the Earth?
Everybody’s got secret places like this. Whether or not they’re meaningful depends on your definition of meaning, and this will ultimately decide if you’re going to care before discarding this one as curly-telephone cord-teenage-nonsense. Something is going on, right now, and you happen to be invited.
Even in elementary school, I knew I behaved a little differently and that it set me apart. When the girls sang school bus songs, I’d peek over the brown seat from the rear and wonder how they’d all gotten to bond before I boarded and how they knew these weird chants. When we sat in the cafeteria with our lunch trays my fellow students substituted every other bite with a word on which New Kid On The Block was the cutest. (I was usually scarfing down the pizza and thinking about the next recess possibilities outside.) Out of the loop, not interested in any fad besides the Skip It! and happy to be in my own little world, I watched my friends emulating their older sisters. I was utterly clueless in the ways of Cool while I was growing up.
I knew that the entire concept of cooties settled uncomfortably with me because it never seemed a natural part for my life, no matter how much more popular it became. It was easier for me to establish bonds with the males in my school than it seemed for the girls, to, and I never really did walk with a group of females with the same ease as when I could be in the company of boys.
I remember being at the hospital’s gift shop with money in my pocket. Bored, I browsed all of the magazines and found one of those teen-pinup collections of musicians and actors. As unlike-me as it was to pay that stuff any mind, I eyed it with determination to find out what all of those starry-eyed deals were. What was so gorgeous, about people and why were they desired so damn much? So I bought the thing and can still picture the gray carpet and the sight of my arms turning those pages in a waiting room. It felt a lot like when someone watches a sports game and wants to select their favorite team; I quickly observed that some of the most interesting material centered around the publication’s favored star, Jonathan Brandis.
He had to have been around 16 years old when I found out about him. Clean-cut, blue-eyed and always posing in wholesome, innocent posters, it was only a matter of weeks before I could spout off his favorite movie (Terminator 2) and all the other things he was interested in. I put the magazine’s pinups on my walls to the point where I was removing puppy and kitty images, making room for Mr. Brandis. If I was going to have a crush, it was to be an impressive one.
When it came down to it, Jonathan had the most to show in shrines, calendars, and every single teen magazine cover. He reigned over the glossy pull-outs with a modest dominance that makes today’s favor for Harry Potter look like spam in comparison. Accomplished enough in image alone to live on the millions of photo shoots and feature articles, not even my mother could argue against the fact that Jonathan Brandis was sirloin.
On the 12th of this November, Jonathan Brandis was found dead at 27 and suicide has been suggested.
Now you have to go back with me and walk in reverse for a few years. Put the graduation hat back on the head, out from the assembly hall and backwards from the football bleachers. Go back to a point where you couldn’t quite imagine remaining in school for years yet, and stop right at the place where you believed that perfect pictures lasted forever and everything was possible. Stop right there, run over to my house really quick, and follow my voice down the hall to the North East end. Walk right into the room. You can’t miss that pink carpet or the girl clutching the stuffed animal. That’s me.
She knew all companies in the years following, but the only guy who’d make it up on the wall was Jonathan. The world would suggest that she become suspicious and never really trust a person fully – if she went against this warning it would be proven good advice the hard way. But at this little point in time, before all of that, the walls are papered with the model of a young man who symbolized the ultimate ideal for access to her heart. Safe in snapshots and captured in iconic glory, his smile was a little longer on one side than the other. I just broke the news to the fan inside, that her Jonathan has died.
Now she’s sitting here, looking at the guy grinning beside my old, ruffled canopy and everywhere else. Her piles of magazines are vanishing from inside the dresser drawers as you read, silent handfulls at a time. In an amplified ending that will not allow her to dwell, an oscillating fan peels her posters from the corners and this time she is not reaching up to press the tape back to the wall. Realizing just how good she has had it in memory, there are tears in her eyes because she knows that the guy in her pictures is not smiling, anymore.