I got tagged by Beth to reveal my first young crushes.
I must match Bubs' demographics, because my first crushes, at the age of 5, were the same as his-- Julie Newmar as Catwoman from Batman and Morticia from the Adams family. I'm suprised I didn't go for Goth girls later in life.
I also recall a crush on Penny Robinson from "Lost In Space," and later Maryanne from "Gilligan's Island". And I was interested in Rosalind, the African-American girlfriend of my family's white architect next-door-neighbor. She looked like a young Aretha Franklin-- very pretty and very charming. However, since she was taken, we kept it at a purely platonic level, chatting whenever we ran into one another.
Thanks to my mother, there's photographic evidence of a my first big real world crushes and loves. About 15 years ago, she came across all of my old grade school class pictures, thought to be long-lost, in a drawer and gave them to me
I went to Kindergarten at Lincoln Elementary School in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. Lincoln Park has long since gentrified, but back then it was a mix of blue collar whites and Puerto Ricans, with a handful of "urban pioneer" artists and professionals (like our next-door-neighbor). It was a really exciting time in my life. My father worked as an electrician and my mother was a cashier at a National Tea grocery store. This left my brothers and I somewhat supervised by a succession of baby-sitters, mostly nursing students from nearby Augustana Hospital, which has long-since been torn down to make way for desperately-needed yuppie townhouses. We lived in this apartment during the single greatest event of my life, the Superstorm-- Chicago's Snowstorm of '67. More on that another time.
When I started Kindergarten, at first, I would walk to school with our landlord's older son and his friends, who were jerks. As the year wore on, I started walking with a girl down the street who was a couple of years older than me. Looking back, I'm pretty sure she had a crush on me-- she would wait for me every day, even when I was trying to avoid her and walk to school with my guy friends.
When I got to school, a regular Peyton Place awaited me. I have photograhic evidence. This picture greatly amuses my wife, for reasons soon to be understood.
Mrs. Stocking, my Kindergarten teacher, was in her second year of teaching. She had the perfect name and look to be a Kindergarten teacher. She was unflappable in the midst of a very energetic and sometimes challenging class.
Every picture, as that noted philosopher, thinker and scholar Rod Stewart sang, tells a story.
My best friend at the time, Soumo, stands by my side in this picture. He was from South Korea, lived across the street from me, and spoke not a word of English. This did not keep us from happily playing together for hours every single day. He is in the middle row, fourth from the right. I am in the same row, third from the right. Billy, second from the right, was also a good friend. He was as cheerful and nice as he looks in this picture. At the far right end of the row, stood Roger, who was also a friend. He was as serious as he looks in the picture.
The guys third and fourth from the left, Timmy and Kenny, are likely in prison now. Timmy was a serious white trash thug, even then. Kenny was like that little dog in the cartoons, going "ya ya ya ya-- whatever you say Timmy." If there was trouble in the classroom, they likely had a hand in it. I knew even then that they were mean little pricks, and avoided them.
The real action going on in this picture, though, is an unrequited love triangle going on right before the camera.
You'll note that my eyes are looking down and to my right to the girl of my dreams, Rebecca, in the lower left hand corner of the picture.
You can see that she was playing her part, sitting coquettishly in a dreamy pose. This was, of course, to torment me. I was obsessed with Rebecca from the first time I laid eyes on her. I spent the entire year of Kindergarten finding excuses to be around her. On a dare, once, I even ran up and kissed her. She did not kiss back. She, of course, had no interest in me or my attention. She was mortified. Maybe even terrified. If there was a stalking law back then, she'd likely have invoked it. If she could have, she would have filed a restraining order keeping me at least 200 feet from her.
Meanwhile, Rebecca had a rival. If you look at the top row, you'll notice that the second girl from the left, Renae, is looking over at me. She was my stalker. She spent the entire year trying to be wherever I was. This often irritated me, because it interfered with my attempts to be wherever Rebecca was.
Looking back, I should have gone with Renae. Her parents were some of the first professionals-- yuppies-- to move into the neighborhood. She was smart, sweet, cute and had parents with money. Rebecca was silent, sullen and had the personality of an overboiled turnip. Of course I went for Rebecca. It wasn't until third grade that my taste in women improved, and I had my year as a "playah." More on that later.
I guess the funniest part about it all was that the woman I'd eventually spend my life with, my wife Kim, was minus six months old in March of 1967, when this little drama was unfolding.