I was eight when I learned that Rick Springfield slept in the nude at B&B Hobby Shop in Mt. Vernon, Illinois.
Every Sunday after church, my family would stop at B&B Hobby, next to the Granada Theater in downtown Mt. Vernon, at a time in history when small-town downtowns everywhere were still thriving.
The store was so much deeper than it was wide—in my memory, there were sections and sections toward the back of the store, very dark, high shelves so teeming they were close to toppling. Back there, the paths in the linoleum weren’t nearly as worn. Head shop? Porn section? Just a little girl’s imagination? I never, never went all the way back.
Dad looked at the selection of pipes and tobacco. “The better it smells, the worse it tastes,” he always said about pipe tobacco.
My brother looked at balsa wood dowels and possibly-huffable glue and model paint. Among his other creations was a working guillotine that he threatened to use on my Ken doll.
Mom and I looked at magazines, right in the front of the store, next to one of the big floor-to-ceiling pane-glass windows. I was absolutely focused on Tiger Beat and Teen Beat and 16 Magazine. (I was 8 or 9 when I read 16, 13 or 14 when I read Seventeen, and then at 17, began reading Andy Warhol’s Interview.)
Once we’d loaded up the counter with that week’s purchases, which always included the St. Louis Post Dispatch, we piled in the car and headed toward Opdyke, about a 20 minute drive.
I always read on the way home. I always got a headache. But I could never wait.
So of course, what I did was read “Why Rick Springfield Sleeps in the Nude” at B&B Hobby Shop when I was 8. Because I read it there, because it was SO TITILLATING, when I think of Rick Springfield, yes, I think of General Hospital, yes I think of “Jesse’s Girl,” but mostly, I think of that headline on the cover of Tiger Beat and I am SMACK RIGHT THERE in B&B Hobby. With a little bit of a sick car-headache to go with it.
And why did he sleep in the nude? As I remember it, he told a story about waking up when he was a boy with both legs somehow in one leg of his pajamas, and being terrified that he’d somehow lost a leg, and ever after slept in the nude.
One wonders now at the probability of any single part of the story being true (very low) and also the probability that the editors were making a joke about a different sort of leg getting stuck in his pajamas (very high).
Oh! Those early 70s! What a time. It was also Donny Osmond I was nuts for (I had an Osmond’s lunch box I wish I’d kept, like this one)
In what I now understand as the beginning of the end of my pre-pubescent teeny-bopper phase, there was once an article on Shaun Cassidy, where he was asked what kind of music he listened to. I only remember one band from his list, Led Zeppelin, but I came away understanding he was the same age as my brother and listened to the same kind of music. My brother hated what I listened to. I used to torture him by singing, “Make the world go away,” in my best Marie Osmond impersonation.
I wasn’t done being a teeny-bopper, but a layer of sweetness had been stripped away. In its place, a dawning awareness of the chasm that yawned between what I thought I knew and what was true.
Being a teeny-bopper fan was hard work then. You had to wait for magazines to come out, you had to pay to belong to fan clubs, and you had to watch TV pretty much all the time just in case someone showed up somewhere.
Now? Pshaw. Easy as pie. Set up a Google alert and you learn more than you even really want to.
And thus we encounter the middle-aged teeny-bopper phase. I don’t put the posters on my wall any more, but I still get that little frisson, “new picture!” or “new detail!” or “new movie!”
On Monday’s show, Katie Couric asks Bradley Cooper about his dating life, and mentions how the media seems absolutely obsessed. He does a nice collapse on the couch, and then comments that he partly finds it pretty interesting and partly finds it pretty disheartening.
There’s also a video of him on Howard Stern’s show, from 2011, when Stern is not just praising Renee Zellweger (who was Cooper’s girlfriend at the time), but Stern is also trying to figure out if he’d had a shot of sleeping with her one time back when, when they were having their hair done in adjacent chairs…. The look on Cooper’s face is hard to interpret, except that there’s nothing in it that is saying, “I’m enjoying this part of the conversation, Howard, please say more.” If you track the timeline of media coverage of his love life, Cooper & Zellweger broke up just days after that show.
[Finding out Bradley Cooper is a huge fan of Howard Stern is somewhere on the same emotional planet as finding out Shaun Cassidy liked Led Zeppelin. Interesting.]
I’m not as nice as Katie Couric (seems to be) and not as crude as Howard Stern (seems to be).
I wish I were so different from either of them that I could interview someone like Bradley Cooper and not bring up dating at all.
Ultimately, in the pie chart of “What I Find Interesting About Bradley Cooper” (tune in tomorrow for the full chart!), “Whom He’s Dating” is a mighty-slim sliver.
But I wish it weren’t a part of the pie at all.