Toad in the Hole

May 30, 2006

The Wayback Machine: Crush

Pica's post yesterday reminds me that I had a big childhood crush on Ted Williams. I can hear the radio guy -- Dad's radio, or someone's TV turned up enough to hear from outdoors, on a summer day with the smell of just-mown grass and a sprinkler spray hitting the sidewalk, or, almost, that peculiar scent you get from just-rained-on concrete only in summer, so I rarely get a whiff of it here. The announder's saying, "SWING'namiss, Strike One." The crowd's going, "Rhubarbrhubarbmmmnmnmnmnmnmahhhhhhh" in the background. There was a little bank in the lawn in front of the house, three steps up from the sidewalk, that was the perfect height and angle to lie on and watch clouds or, in fall, migrating birds high overhead. I suppose they were blackbirds, but since I didn't have binocs or a clue then, I can't say for sure. When a really big flock streamed over we'd (I guess by "we" I mean the girls) holler, "That's MY wedding!" First one to holler got dibs on, on, on whatever we were getting dibs on with that, who knows?

I bet the rest of the bunch didn't have three dogs and a pair of golden eagles, hah.

I wonder if they still go over there in such numbers. I do remember a flock of geese once; we knew they were geese at least. Probably Canadas.

Ted Williams was probably my most respectable childhood crush, and the longest-lasting. Well, for values of "respectable" that include or overlook having your head sawn off and frozen. At various ages, starting with maybe three, I had TV crushes on Liberace, Moe Howard of the Three Stooges (I think I identified with him), Hoppy Cassidy, The Cisco Kid (or maybe it was his horse; I definitely had a crush on Fury), and the Fleischer Brothers' version of Popeye.

Of course I was young and chronically confused, and TV was a bit different for me then. I can remember thinking that Walter Cronkite and Walt Disney were the same guy, just less formal on weekends. Must've been the moustache. Those weren't too common in the early- to mid-Fifties.

Posted at May 30, 2006 05:42 PM


Wait: Moe Howard?


Ted, though: there's a respectable crush.

Posted by: Pica at May 31, 2006 02:52 PM

At least you had crushes on "real" people. Though my older sister dug Sandy Koufax, I was always disappointed that celebrities were not as attractive as I expected them to be based on my close reading of fairy tales. Sports figures. Royalty. Closeted gay performers. Bah. (Well, except for Richard Chamberlain, eventually.) For me, beginning as soon as I was aware of gender and for way, way too many years afterward, the only crush-worthy individuals on my radar were cartoon characters. I think my first was a cheesy Hanna Barbera creation called Robin Hood in Outer Space. Then there was Walt Disney's interpretation of Peter Pan. I was so enamored of him I actually wanted to be him, and when I played pretending games by myself in my room I would alternate between being him and being in love with him. I guess I was just a twisted little narcissist who liked two-dimensional guys in tunics, tights, and poinky feathered hats.

Though eventually I learned to sublimate my attraction to cartoon men only to suffer undying love for live action TV characters (e.g., John Gage, Captain Apollo) -- but not the actors who played them, never the actors who played them (well, except for Richard Chamberlain, but even still) -- the irony of my having grown up to resemble a fat, middle-aged Tinkerbell who has perhaps seen her own struggles with the crocodile who so bedeviled Captain Hook has not escaped me.

Posted by: Sara at May 31, 2006 04:04 PM

Oh, and in case you hadn't guessed, I totally get the whole Fury thing. Not so much Popeye, though I respected him for sharing my love of spinach. His pipe-smoking and tattoo kind of turned me off though. I liked my cartoon men pretty, and feathered.

Posted by: Sara at May 31, 2006 04:43 PM

Of course Moe Howard. I was the oldest kid, and a girl besides. I _Identified_ with him. "All right, you clowns, get moving!"

When I got old enough to, say, figure out that Walt and Walter weren't really the same guy (though you gotta wonder some days) and ijnspite of my grammy's speaking habits, all dogs weren't "he" and all cats weren't "she," I kinda made the progression -- though I can't recall who I crushed on for some years in there -- to the likes of Nick Adams (Johnny Yuma, The Rebel) and Tommy Frank, the older kid up the block who resembled Adams a bit and died when his MG flipped during off-duty hours somewhere near Hampton Roads, Virginia. And JEB Stuart. (He was cavalry, see.) And David Janssen, The Fugitive.

And my favorite Beatle was George.

It probably means something along the same axis that my favorite person of the Trinity was the Holy Ghost, but hey.

Posted by: Ron at June 1, 2006 12:01 AM