TEEN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (11)
May 2, 2023
One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of heartthrobs from our adolescences). Series edited by Heather Quinlan.
I entered my tweens in the flyover farmlands of southeast Ontario. Long story. I was a city kid, a weird kid, but a pretty sociable kid, so I entertained consensus opinion about the Bay City Rollers — catnip for the Scottish-Canadian lassies of Glengarry County — when issues of Tiger Beat were passed seat to seat on the school bus. But they were not for me. Nor, when I found myself in Comstock, Michigan, as a middle-schooler (long story, cont.), did Leif Garrett or Peter Frampton quite scratch the itch. Cute? Heck, yeah! Aspirational boyfriend material? Sure, I guess! Harmless yet dancing on the edge of danger? Half boy, half man? Check and check. But heartthrobs, importantly, are communal mirrors. This is the boy you love, because all the girls you know love this boy, and you are one of them. I liked the girls, shared their lip gloss, but I wasn’t one of them.
I was already an American rambler by the time I returned to my hometown of Cambridge, Massachusetts, for high school, so naturally I became interested in Woody Guthrie. I found his apocryphal autobiography at the Book Case on Church Street and devoured it. Now there’s a heartthrob: rebellious, righteous, complicated, a dreamer and a rogue. Long dead, unfortunately. And so, while my hip new cohort was crushing on Sting and Tom Petty, I took up with his son Arlo. I beheld Arlo’s black ringlets, hooded eyes, and kewpie-doll lips, and he beheld me and my imaginary girl gang of drifters. The things that make me cringe now — his smug corn pone, to say nothing of his untenable Brooklyn twang — struck me differently then, because the scenes I’d blown through were country scenes, where the counterculture went native and talking hippie blues made sense. I believe Arlo first came on my radar when his “Motorcycle Song” (the I-don’t-want-a-pickle one) was sung at the funeral of beloved Comstock biker Elmer Cole, who met his maker on Sprinkle Road late at night and high on whatever.
Arlo was my heartthrob because he was a cute boy and a narratively coherent mirror. But the recent history he reflected back was mine alone and impossible to explain. And so he was a secret heartthrob, and my adoration of him nurtured an inner life. I went alone to see Alice’s Restaurant at the Exeter Street Theatre; I would not have dreamed of inviting a friend. There was a free shuttle bus that ran between the Radcliffe Quad, a few blocks from my house, and the main Harvard Campus, making a stop on Cambridge Street outside my high school, and one of the student drivers had Arlo’s black ringlets and pasty white skin. I would sometimes let one, two, even three shuttle buses pass waiting for his. Because of my Arlo, I missed homeroom easily dozens of times, but fuck homeroom. And later, when I heard the real Arlo had become a Hawaiian-shirt-wearing libertarian with a bad moustache, I put my hands over my ears and said la-la-la-la.
TEEN YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Heather Quinlan | Adam McGovern on ANDY GIBB | Crockett Doob on DREW BARRYMORE | Kathy Biehl on THE MONKEES | Josh Glenn on SHAUN CASSIDY | Catherine Christman on ELI WALLACH | Carlo Rotella on VALERIE BERTINELLI | Miranda Mellis on EDDIE VAN HALEN | Paul Finnegan on KIM WILDE | Heather Quinlan on MIKE PATTON | Mariane Cara on NKOTB | Mimi Lipson on ARLO GUTHRIE | Gabriela Pedranti on GUSTAVO CERATI | Michele Carlo on MICHAEL JACKSON | Ingrid Schorr on PAUL McCARTNEY | Carolyn Campbell on ROBERT REDFORD | Erin M. Routson on JOHNNY KNOXVILLE | Amy Keyishian on JIM MORRISON | Fran Pado on TONY DEFRANCO | Krista Margies Kunkle on LUKE PERRY | Lucy Sante on FRANÇOISE HARDY | Lynn Peril on DANNY BONADUCE | Jack Silbert on CHERYL TIEGS | Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons on CHRISTIAN SLATER | Cynthia Scott on LEONARD WHITING | Elizabeth Foy Larsen on OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN.
JACK KIRBY PANELS | CAPTAIN KIRK SCENES | OLD-SCHOOL HIP HOP | TYPEFACES | NEW WAVE | SQUADS | PUNK | NEO-NOIR MOVIES | COMICS | SCI-FI MOVIES | SIDEKICKS | CARTOONS | TV DEATHS | COUNTRY | PROTO-PUNK | METAL | & more enthusiasms!