When I was a tween, one of my most serious hobbies was collecting BOP and Tiger Beat magazines. My friends and I would go to the drug store and sit in the magazine aisle, leaf through these bubblegum rags, and agonize over our purchases. My weekly allowance would only support my habit up to a point, so I had to be careful if I wanted to get my money’s worth. Sometimes the magazines had only so-so heartthrobs on the cover, but if there was a magazine with a full-size pullout poster of Jonathan Taylor Thomas (JTT!!!), well, obviously that was money well spent.
Some of my friends were already starting to go on dates around this time, even though most of us hadn’t even started our periods. I was shy and socially awkward around most people, and even more so around boys. I had no interest in them and didn’t anticipate ever wanting to have anything to do with them. I mean...I had books, I had my friends, I had my bike, honestly, what else did I need?
Maybe I wasn’t maturing as quickly as my friends, I don’t know, but I didn’t see the appeal of dating. Frankly, what little dating information I’d been able to gather (mostly from old episodes of Saved by the Bell) terrified me. My friends and I often discussed the perfect age to start dating. Most of my friends insisted that, at 12, we were the perfect age to date all we wanted, and you wouldn’t believe the heavy silence that fell when I suggested that maybe 18 was a better age.
I had no real interest in any of the boys in my life but was obsessed with collecting glossy pictures of my favorite teen actors. My room was plastered with the posters and pages I’d torn from teen magazines. I taped them on my bedroom walls like wallpaper. I lived in my head and my head was full of these Hollywood pretty boys. It was easier to pretend that if I should ever meet one of these actors, they’d fall deeply in love with me, and I’d never need to go through the painful dating process. I weaved intricate fantasies around these meetings, based on information gleaned from all the generic magazine articles I’d read about them. JTT liked ice cream. I liked ice cream! Joshua Jackson liked animals! I LOVED animals! Andrew Keegan liked to hike and, well, I liked to walk? Oh the fun we’d have, JTT, Andrew, Josh (yeah, I call him Josh) and I, eating our double-decker ice cream cones while we hiked through the woods and tried to catch wild animals WITH OUR BARE HANDS.
Obviously, these fantasies never became reality, and I (sort of) overcame my fear of boys and dipped my toe into the dating scene. I still spend most of my time in my head, but I eventually outgrew these magazine heartthrobs. Although, if I didn't think Joe would mind, I might still plaster the walls of our house with pictures of Joshua Jackson.