My birthday is approaching. I won’t tell you which one I’m on, but I’m over 40. As I do every year when my birthday nears, I began to reminisce. This year’s musings were about the teen idols of my youth.
When I was a young teen, Leif Garrett, Shaun Cassidy, and the Bay City Rollers, among others, were plastered all over teen magazines. We, the screaming teeny bop girls, were all absolutely, completely and totally in love with these boys and men; and we were absolutely, positively sure that they loved us. Well, they would love us if they could only meet us.
We all had the same fantasy, I think. That our favorite teen idol would meet us: He’d run into us at the convenience store, the back door of the hotel, the front door of the hotel, somewhere, anywhere. And when his eyes met ours, he would instantly be as smitten with us as we were with him.
The engagement would be short, and hidden so that the other screaming teeny bop girls couldn’t mess anything up before we got married. When we did get married, there would be a surprise announcement. Those other screaming teeny bop girls would be incredibly disappointed and insanely jealous. Our wedding would be huge, bigger than Princess Di’s for sure. The whole world would watch and think how beautiful we looked together.
We and our teen idol would live happily ever after. We’d have a bunch of shiny, blond, curly haired kids, we’d never grow old, and we’d never have to worry about anything, particularly money since he’d made oodles of it as a teen idol. Such were our teenage fantasies.
Then we grew up, dated and met men who married us for real rather than in our fantasies, had babies (some blond, some curly, most not), and while our lives may not be perfect, all in all, I think most of us would say our lives turned out pretty darned good.
Unfortunately, the same is generally not true for those teen idols we fantasized about. If you do an Internet search to find out what’s gone on with those teen idols, you find drug abuse, alcoholism, broken marriages, jail sentences, child pornography, and bankruptcy. After checking up on my favorite teen idol, I found he had fared no better than his peers when it came to navigating the excesses of fame or the fall from the spotlight.
I can’t help thinking how sad the fates of most teen idols. They didn’t care (we thought), that we had pimples or were gangly or hadn’t developed breasts yet. We knew they’d still love us even if we weren’t part of the “in” crowd. We knew that their love for us was complete and unconditional and that they understood us, even when our parents didn’t. While most of them may not have realized it, they helped millions of us through the roughest part of our teen years.
When I blow out the candles on this year’s birthday cake, I’ll make a wish that my teen idol fares a little better in his senior years than he did in the middle part of his life; that his fortunes turn around and that his life is happier and more tranquil. You know, the way it would have been had he married me!