Crushes – then and now

Did you have a BIG CRUSH when you were a youngling? Pictures of movie and pop stars and sporting heroes on your walls? People you worshipped and adored, safe in your faraway devotion, knowing everyone else you knew had similar crushes. It was okay when we were young, but what about as we age, can you still have crushes? Well, why not actually? In these dreary times and when the world crushes down on you, shouldn’t you have someone to dream of, someone gorgeous to take you away from the mire and misery, someone who might inspire you to do better; be better?

Childhood crushes. It was Bowie and Queen, specifically Freddie Mercury who adorned my bedroom walls. Bowie was resplendent in his Aladdin Sane garb; Freddie lounging in a revealing cat-suit in a picture taken from Jackie magazine. I loved their music, adored their outfits, was faithful to them all my life, even when the pictures came down, I still bought their albums and could not understand my friends’ devotion to Davids Essex & Cassidy. I felt mature and sophisticated in my devotions.

I was also besotted by Mark Spitz: he of the seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympics. I had pictures of him almost naked in his speedos and medals on the wall until my evil brother defaced them bringing down upon his head my mother’s extreme ire in response to my floods of tears. Spitz was darkly handsome, beautifully buff and a testament to determination and drive. His father had expected six gold medals, but at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, where Spitz was beaten by Aussie Mike Wenden in the 100m & 200m freestyle, thus crushing his dreams. But four years later Spitz prevailed, with a world record in all seven events. So he had it all: handsome, super fit and something of an over-achiever. The best sort of boy to be on a girl’s wall. In fact, a huge contrast to my effete creative musicians cheek by jowl there on my lavendar walls.

Then, closer to home was Andrew H. Six foot plus tall, mop of tawny hair, six years older than me, pink wet suit, gorgeous yachts, who moved with the stealth of a big cat. I had a crush on this man for six years, all through school, alongside several boyfriends. I worshipped from two yards away, desperate for each new sailing season to catch a glimpse, maybe get close enough: only managing about six inane words in six years. He’s a brain surgeon now, still sailing, still winning. I hope he never knew… By the time I’d got to uni fortunately I was over him.

Lifelong Crushes. I have loved Richard Gere all my life: from the first moment in An Officer and A Gentleman he was my main movie star man. Not really that tall, and slightly squinty eyes, but he was edgy and his smile was sort of sly and evil, full of sensual promise. He played a range of roles and did get his kit off a lot in his early movies: remember American Gigolo? He’s aged so well too, smile better than ever.

Other life-long movie star crushes: Robert Redford, since Butch Cassidy and especially as Jay Gatsby in that pink suit; Kevin Costner, even Waterworld and 3000 Miles to Graceland; Jeremy Irons, only gets better with age, but his voice was wonderful in Brideshead Revisited even if he was a little ‘wet’ then.

Two women need a mention here: Bette Midler, because I looked like her once and always loved her music and her bawdiness; and Grace Jones who gave androgyny a whole new meaning. How could you love Bowie and not love Grace? I just loved Slave to the Rhythm, that is one of the Music vid clips. She’s still going too. Outrageous and confident women, you have to love them.

Now Crushes. Now, as a less than impressionable older style person I still have crushes. Bill Nighy is my number one these days and, according to the papers, I am very much not on my own. I found him in Still Crazy and have been devoted ever since. I even keep some of the articles about him in the papers.  I fell in love with Jimmy Page during research about the early days of rock n roll, but the Jimmy of the seventies, not so much now. My God, wasn’t he just the most beautiful man? Had I been into Zeppelin as a youngster he’d had been up there on the walls next to Dave and Fred. I came to David Gilmour in the same way. Wasn’t he lovely when he was young? It seems a bit sad to find them now and fall in love with the past, but what the heck, we never get close to our crushes anyway, so does it matter?

Keep the flame burning, I say. It’s nice to think about why you find some people so utterly compelling, what you were doing when you were young and infatuated, why some people still do it for you. I’m listening to Grace as I type and feeling fine.  Nice to have a little fantasy in your life, a little magic from the gods of film, song and water.

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