The Thanksgiving Feast

To me, one of the greatest parts of Thanksgiving is what starts today. No, not Black Friday shopping—I refuse to participate in such madness. I made the mistake of facing the crowds at dawn once, years ago, and found myself clutching a Game Cube in a football hold, rushing toward the registers in a frantic rush to escape the feeding frenzy as quickly as possible, preferably with all of my limbs still attached.

No, today is the day we begin to consume the beautiful and succulent delicacy known as leftovers. Turkey sandwiches, soup, pot pie…and speaking of pie, we have pumpkin and sweet potato. Alas, I should stop before Ralphie from A Christmas Story sues me for copyright infringement, which brings up a story fans of this holiday classic will appreciate: our very own Bumpus Hound.

For those not familiar with A Christmas Story, first of all, stop reading and go watch the movie—right now! I’ll wait…

All right, just in case you don’t know about the Bumpus Hounds, and didn’t follow my instructions, I will give you a brief recap, though it will ruin my life-imitating-art story.

Ralphie’s family lives next door to the Bumpus family and, as Ralphie put it:

“Our hillbilly neighbors, the Bumpuses had over 785 smelly hound dogs, and they ignored every other human being on earth except my old man!”

On Christmas morning, the Bumpus Hounds come barreling into Ralphie’s kitchen, and devour the unprotected turkey, fresh from the oven and resting on the kitchen table. His mother screams; his father declares the family will be going out to eat. Cut to the Chinese restaurant and roast duck.

Which brings us to Thanksgiving, 2000. My husband and I were the proud owners of an eight month old black lab puppy named Karma (insert irony joke here). She was, of course, extremely interested in all the smells of deliciousness emanating from the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. Every time I would take the turkey from the oven and baste it, she would be right by my side, sniffing joyfully.

This, dear reader, is called foreshadowing.

Dinner went off without a hitch, the turkey and all its trimmings enjoyed by all. As is typical, I made far more food than was needed, leaving us with a bounty of leftovers to enjoy.

On that fateful Friday, we went out for a while (for what purpose, I no longer recall. Perhaps the day has been blocked out as result of the ensuing trauma we endured). We came home in happy anticipation of tasty turkey sandwiches for lunch, but instead found ourselves in what we would later describe as KARMAGEDDON.

You can see where this is going.

Karma, our precious pooch, had made a discovery. She could open the refrigerator.

AND

SHE

ATE

EVERY

SCRAP

All of the turkey—the carcass was stripped bare.

All of the stuffing.

The mashed potatoes.

The cranberries.

The sweet potatoes.

The gravy.

And the pies. Oh, the pies.

We found her lying on her side, her belly protruding in an obscenely convex manner, her groans of pain (or ecstasy? We’ll never know) greeting us at the door. It was a scene of horror and destruction: foil and storage containers strewn about as though struck by a hurricane, the refrigerator door swung open wide, its bare shelves taunting us, the dog in a heap on the kitchen floor, having eaten herself into a stupor, unable to even escape to the next room. The smell of Thanksgiving was in the air, but the contents of Thanksgiving were in her belly.

I’m pretty sure the dog recovered before we did.

It was with great sadness that we had to have our dear old Karma Doggy put down this year, unexpectedly.

I thought of you every time I basted the turkey, old girl. Thanks for the memories.

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Real Genius

Sorry for my absence. I’ve been knee-deep (at least) in rewrites and beta reading/critiquing. And, you know, the whole raising a kid thing. But he’s happily distracted by an electronic device at the moment (hey, it’s an e-reader for kids! He’s learning something-don’t judge me!), so I thought I’d drop some knowledge.

Becoming a parent does something to you. Well, it does many things to you, but I’m going to focus on one today: the “My kid is a genius, so I must record for the world and all of humanity his every accomplishment” thing.

We all do it, and our friends all smile and say things like “Wow! Look at that. That’s really impressive. Yup. That finger painting does look just like it’s from Monet’s Water Lilies series.” The friends who are also parents then lavish us with stories and pictures of their own kids, and we marvel at the infinitesimal odds of us both having child prodigies. The ones without kids nod and smile politely, their eyes glazed, just waiting to get home so they can lament their crazy friends. We know this, and laugh at their naïveté—I mean, they just don’t get it—but they get the last laugh by staying up late watching R rated movies and sleeping in until 9AM.

Touché.

We exist in a blissful ignorance, a bubble of parenthood that makes us forget what it’s like not to have kids. We become immersed in a world of amazement, every first a tiny miracle to our mom and dad brains, and we worry that if we miss something, we might forget. The time flies by with amazing speed, the firsts going by in a blur, so we do what we can to catch them and keep them. And we NEED to share. Because no other child has ever done such amazing things!

We really are doing this for the greater good. Our photos, videos and Facebook updates (“Wohoo! He pooped in the potty!”) are history in the making. I mean, what if he’s The President someday, and I didn’t capture the moment, highlighting his early flashes of brilliance, foreshadowing his future as the leader of the free world? I clearly owe it to AMERICA to take this picture:

I mean, he’s not even four yet, and he’s writing words.

Okay, he may have some spacing issues, but writing BOAT is pretty impressive.

Well, BOA

T.

What do you suppose he’s telling us? Our economy is adrift in uncertain waters, in danger of running aground? We need find a safe harbor in order to weather the storm, or face the prospect of a global economy collapsing under its own weight?

That’s probably it. He’s boiled down the Greek debt crisis into a single word, a beautiful metaphor.

Told you he’s a genius.

Stop the World, I Want to Get Off.

Warning: Using humor to get to something serious. Controversial, even.

I’ve already shared my thoughts on the “Christmas Season” starting the moment your kid gets out of their costume and begins to sort candy on Halloween night. To sum up: not a fan. You can see that whole thing go down here:

Anyhow, while little man and I were out running errands this morning, we stopped at a certain well-known chain pharmacy to pick up some of the GOOD cold medicine (you know, the kind that requires your driver’s license, credit references, and a blood sample?). My husband has been stuck with the same cold for over a month, and it’s high time it moves along.

As parents with young children know, a stop like this is never brief. Stores like this are crammed with a plethora of items in need of serious inspection and inquiry. “What’s this, mommy? Oooh, and what’s this?” We inevitably made our way into designated and mandated “holiday” section. Which brought THIS to my attention:

Umm…

Attention world: You don’t get to complain about marriage equality threatening the very fabric of our society. It has always been wrong of you to do so. Ridiculous. Cruel. But now? It’s over. I don’t want to hear one more stupid, homophobic word. Not when we, as a society, have not only accepted but celebrate the “reality” stars of the world. They represent the very worst of human nature, the shallowest end of the gene pool, the vapid, the stupid. And we turn them into Christmas Ornaments. The ornaments are funny, hilarious, even, but in an “I cannot believe this is happening,” kind of way.

Then again, maybe the marriage defense crusaders are onto something with DOMA. Maybe it just needs a little tweaking, because, let’s face it, you’re going after the wrong group. People who love each other, not for gain, not for fame or attention, but for love, and want the same rights as anyone else? They’re not the problem. Not ever.

How many gay and lesbian celebrity relationships do you see crashing and burning in reality show/Hollywood style? Name one, I dare you. Okay, there was that one time when Anne Heche went a little…yeah. Aside from her? Anyone come to mind? I’m drawing a blank, myself.

How about we forbid the Kardashians from marrying? And pretty much anyone else TMZ follows around, their tongues lolling out of their mouths like cartoon characters, looking for the next “big” moment. And Newt Gingrich, while we’re at it. Anthony Weiner, too (I don’t want to sound partisan. They both suck.). And Representative Joe Walsh- can you honestly name a bigger threat to the sanctity of marriage and family than that guy? How about we defend marriage from them?

What a wonderful world it would be.

Influences (from OUTER SPACE!)

As most of you know, today is Veteran’s Day (or Remembrance Day, depending on where you live). As I am not up for a heavy post, I thought I’d reflect on one aspect of a veteran dear to my heart, my dad. He served in the U.S. Air Force, and today’s post is dedicated to him. I miss you, dad!

I mentioned in a recent blog post the magical day when my parents (chiefly my dad) broke down and purchased a VCR. It was the mid-80s, and the flourishing market of home video was bringing an array of choices to our living rooms. Gone were the days of having to either a) see a movie in the theater, or b) wait for it to be aired on television. Living out in the boonies with a handful of snowy channels pulled in through our roof antenna, our TV movie choices were even more limited. No HBO (Honey, BeastMaster’s On!) for us. We were stuck watching edited for television movies on network TV. Remember the badly dubbed voiceovers that never quite matched the tone, covering the “indecent” language? I still recall my favorite edit, from the beloved Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. “Cameron is so tight, that if you stuck a lump of coal-IN HIS FIST-in two weeks, you’d have a diamond.” That’s benefit #1 of VCR ownership right there. Blank tapes, so you could record your favorite movies off air. Bonus points if you mastered the skill of pausing and resuming recording during commercials. I was a recording ninja.

With this advent of home movies courtesy of the VCR, my dad took full advantage of the opportunity to broaden my film horizons. And with the emergence of the $1.99 movies (to buy, not rent. What a bargain!), my dad was able to bring home such classics Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy, Attack of the Crab Monsters, It! The Terror From Beyond Space, The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) and A Bucket of Blood; serials like Flash Gordon, Radar Men From the Moon and perhaps my all-time favorite, Captain Video: Master of the Stratosphere.

As you can see from this small sampling (seriously, he had dozens and dozens of tapes) I was never at a loss for classic cinema. It’s not every thirteen year old girl who will sit for hours on end, watching B-movies from the 50s and 60s (and earlier) with her dad. Call it an odd way to bond, but for us, it worked. Perhaps it was made better, our boding sessions heightened, by my mom occasionally peeking in on us, rolling her eyes before leaving us to watch Earth Struggle For Its Very Survival! I guess she just wasn’t a fan of high-concept art.

I’ve looked up some of the tag lines and am glad to see they brilliantly portray the thrills, the chills, the promise of excitement each piece of cinematic genius offered movie-goers.

Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy: Weirdos! We DARE you to see it!

Attack of the Crab Monsters: From the depths of the sea…a tidal wave of terror!

It! The Terror From Beyond Space: It Breathes. It Hunts…It KILLS!!

They just don’t make ‘em the way they used to. It’s too bad.

The Perp Walk

Since today is cold, windy, and generally crummy (ahh, the joys of November in the Upper Midwest), and I feel like talking about adoption, I think I should touch on the lighter side of the process. There’s a lighter side, you ask? Why yes, there is. There are things that, while happening, were thisclose to sending us off for a mental health evaluation, but with the benefit of time, we can look back upon and laugh. Hopefully. So enjoy a few laughs at our expense as our tale of woe unfolds…

Adoption involves paperwork. A lot of paperwork. In Wisconsin, we are blessed with an even greater pile to work our way through, as Wisconsin requires you to have a licensed foster home in order to house your child from placement until the adoption has been finalized. Where are the fire extinguishers located? Has your water been tested? Sign this affidavit that you will have licensed daycare for your child, should daycare be needed. Take a car seat safety course, a SIDS awareness class, background checks, driving record checks, provide copies of your homeowner, auto and health insurance policies, fill out this criminal records search form…well, you get the idea.

In 2006, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act was passed (in my opinion, much needed legislation), which added one more bit of paperwork/bureaucracy to the adoption process. You see, prior to this law, all the background checks were done on a local and state level, thus, someone who had a record in another state could fall through the cracks. This law required a FBI background check (fingerprints through the database) for potential adoptive parents. No problem, right?

Wrong.

You see, in September of 2007 when we began our adoption process (on a RUSH RUSH RUSH because our son was due in January), I learned a little fact that would come back to haunt me. Wisconsin had requested, and been granted, and extension in enacting the Adam Walsh Act. Meaning? The state would not begin conducting the federal background checks for adoptions until 2008. Well, guess what? We were adopting out of state, where they required the check.

You can see where this is going. You’re a savvy reader, and I have utmost faith in your reasoning and forward thinking nature.

Apparently, we were the FIRST and ONLY couple this EVER happened to. Calls to our adoption agency (across the border in Minnesota, where they didn’t have this problem), local agencies, the Wisconsin Adoption Information Center (oh, the irony) and even our local field office of the FBI were all met with baffled “Umm’s” “Aaahh’s” and “Gee, I really don’t know, can I get back to you’s” (Still waiting for the call back, by the way). After a day of pounding my head against the wall (okay, I took scheduled breaks, but still…) I finally used the magical Google, and found the FBI forms online. Even found the address for rush processing. I printed out the forms and after a call to our local sheriff’s department, my husband and I went in to get our prints taken.

Problem solved, right?

Oh, no, dear reader. No, no.

At the county jail—fun!—my husband already pat-searched and on his way back to get his prints taken, the voice of GOD crackles through the officer’s walkie-talkie. And by God, I mean, the head honcho, whom I had just spoken to on the phone not an hour earlier.

“Wait, what are they doing here?” he demands.

“They need to be fingerprinted for an adoption,” says the officer.

Oh, boy. My officer has stopped the pat-search mid-pat, my husband and his officer frozen at the big, scary metal door. This can’t be good.

“What do you mean?” head honcho asks. You can hear the head scratching through the walkie-talkie. I swear. Some gears grinding, too.

“They’re adopting a baby,” the first officer says, slowly, like that will help.

“I just talked to him on the phone.” I say, a little too much irritation in my voice as I point to the radio on his shoulder.

“She says she just talked to you on the phone.”

Silence.

“Hang on, I’m coming down.”

Oh, great.

After several agonizing minutes, watching the comings and goings at the county jail, down comes A Very Irritated Man. The Voice.

“So, what is it you need?” he asks.

I stare at him for a moment, my mouth agape. My gaze falls to the cardstock fingerprint forms in my hand. I sigh, look over at my husband who gives a helpful eye roll, and finally return my attention to Mr. Very Irritated.

“We need our fingerprints taken. For an adoption. See?” I hold up the forms. “I printed these out. You said to come in.”

“I can’t just give fingerprints out to anyone,” he insists, shaking his head.

“But they’re my fingers. Attached to my hands. I’m not asking you for his fingerprints,” I say as I point to a nearby (presumed) miscreant. “I mean, it’s just ink, right? What’s to stop us from going to Office Max, getting an ink pad, and going to town on the thing?”

Oops. Too far, Michelle. Too far.

“No,” he says. Firm. Resolute. “I can’t do this without some sort of authorization.” He shakes his head like he’s dealing with children. “You have an attorney, right?”

“Uh, yeah, we do. Two of them, actually. One here, and one where we’re adopting. Out of state.” I hear the words coming out of my mouth, but still can’t believe them. Am I imagining this whole thing? Is this really what has come to pass?

“Well, pick one and have them get in touch with me.” And with that, he turns and walks away.

“Sorry,” the other officers say, quietly, as we leave.

We don’t speak as we make our way back to our car, too stunned for words.

“Did that just happen?” my husband asks as he buckles his seatbelt and starts the car.

“Yeah, I think it did.”

As we drive past the first gas station on our way home, he observes, “If we go rob that place, they’d fingerprint us without a problem.”

Yes, yes they would.

Can You Keep a Secret?

I’m going to let you in on a secret. But, uh, you can’t tell anyone, okay? It’s pretty bad, and I don’t want word getting out, so let’s keep this between you and me. Deal?

I have to confess. I just have to.

It’s been weighing on my conscience for too long.

Okay, deep breath.

You ready?

I…I let my preschooler…wow, this is difficult.

I…I let him watch old episodes of Sesame Street.

Whew. There, I said it.

What? What’s the big deal, you ask?

“These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.”        

So warns “Bob” the cartoon character, a nebulous blob with a hat who introduces the episodes on the DVD collection, Sesame Street: Old School.

I’ve had these DVDs (volume one) for several years now. In fact, my husband bought it for me before our son was even born. What can I say? I’m a big fan. Now that the kiddo is almost four, I figured it was high time I busted out these precious episodes for his viewing pleasure.

I had never watched the introduction before, but he wanted to watch the cartoon at the beginning, so I relented. Hearing the warning, a chill ran through me. My blood went cold. Should I turn this off? Will it leave my son an emotionally scarred mess? Will he ever recover?

The seemingly harmless introduction began, and so began the horror. What is this? Children roller skating with NO HELMETS? And…wait. What is Cookie Monster doing?? That is NOT a responsible way to consume snacks. Not at all.  He’s wolfing down those cookies with reckless abandon. Doesn’t he realize how many empty calories he’s consumed?

And, OH DEAR GOD, that little girl is whittling! Somebody get that pocket knife away from her before she cuts off a finger! Or goes on a stabbing spree!

Oh, the humanity.

And now my son is counting…in SPANISH.

What have I done?

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

First of all, let me say this: I love Christmas. L-O-V-E love it. I love the decorations, the baking, buying the perfect gifts (in my pajamas. Thanks, Amazon!), getting together with family…well, you get the idea. I say this to give you some perspective as my tale of woe—or rage…tomato, tomahto—unfolds.

This morning found us in another visit to the Big Box Evil Retailer, once again trailing through the toy department so my son could check out everysingletoy—you know, in case the selection has changed since Thursday. The cinnamon was back, assailing my nostrils and putting me in a teensy bit of a mood, when a moment of silence fell upon my little shopper. In this moment, I was able to actually hear what was going on around us, and the assault on my ears became noticeable.

And had a name. Andy Williams.

That’s right. Christmas carols.

As he crooned his way through Silver Bells, his syrupy voice dripping with pure holiday goodness, my eye began to twitch. “It’s November seventh,” I said in a low growl.

“Look at this! It’s Batman!” shouted Little Shopper, unaware that mommy was ramping up for a good freak-out.

“Wow, that’s really cool.” I managed, pushing Mr. Williams out of my brain. “That sure has a lot of pieces.”

“Look at his CAR!”

“That’s the Batmobile, buddy.”

“COOL!”

Silver bells, silver bells…

Little Shopper moved on to Cars 2, his eyes locked on a giant, talking Mater.

…it’s Christmas time in the city.

“What is happening with this world?” I demanded. Little Shopper didn’t answer. Or even notice I was talking.  It was all about Mater for him. “It is NOT Christmas time in the city. Thanksgiving is still two and a half weeks away and it’s FIFTY DEGREES OUT!”

I turned to Little Shopper. “You know, when I was your age,” That’s right. I said THAT. “When I was your age, Thanksgiving was its own holiday, and Christmas didn’t start until AFTER it was DONE. You know what that meant? Christmas was SPECIAL. It wasn’t RUINED by being dragged out so long that everyone was SICK OF IT by the time it was here. We didn’t watch Christmas movies in JULY. We didn’t have DVD players, or even VCRs. We watched the Christmas movies when they came on TV at CHRISTMAS TIME. ONCE. And it was SPECIAL.”

“Mater TALKS, mommy!”

Yes, yes he does.

Merry Christmas.

On Joy and Sadness

I’ve gotten some really great feedback on my post about adoption, so in the spirit of National Adoption Month, I will continue with another entry about our experience. Translation—getting serious again. I have changed the names of those involved out of respect for their privacy.

We were uniquely blessed when our adoption came about. We were contacted by an old family friend who had just learned their teenage daughter was pregnant, after hearing just days before through another mutual friend that my husband and I were about to re-start (that’s a story for another time) the adoption process. We were lucky to start off not as strangers, but as old friends separated by time.

Having not seen them for years, we got in touch that night on the phone, and in my elated state of disbelief at our great fortune, I was brought back to earth by my first glimpse of the reality of adoption, one that you don’t hear much about. One that, in my opinion, is critically important we as adoptive families keep in mind: our joy comes at the expense of others. Where we gain, they lose in equal measure.

Speaking with Karen that night, I heard the pain of a worried mother, listened to the strained tone of her voice, aware of the struggle they were already facing. They had just been to the women’s clinic, and had learned that Jenny was five months pregnant. Imagine, if you can, the weight of that kind of information. Your daughter, not yet old enough to drive a car, was going to give birth in mere months. Their lives were in turmoil, turned upside down by the news. As I spoke to her, I tried to rein in my excitement and reassure her that we were already absolutely committed to this baby, and would do everything in our power to help ease their minds. I volunteered to fly down to meet Jenny, and told her I would call our adoption agency first thing in the morning to get the ball rolling and put our adoption study on a “rush.”

As the months rolled by, my first visit turned into a birth plan. I was invited by the family to come down before the birth and stay with them until the baby was born, and would even get to be in the delivery room. I knew this was a risk, but it was just as much a risk for them. What if I fall in love, and they change their minds? How will I do this, with my husband at home in Wisconsin, 600 miles away? Could my heart take it if they wound up changing their minds? Could their hearts take it if they didn’t? What would this mean for all of us?

Two weeks before Jenny’s due date, I got on a plane, my bags filled with baby clothes, the tags still on. I couldn’t bring myself to remove them, despite Jenny’s reassurances that she would not be changing her mind. Everyone was on board, birth father included, but I was still afraid to let myself truly believe this would be a reality. As we waited for the birth, I got to know both families so well, and I could really appreciate how much love and heartache is involved in their decision. Is there a love stronger than that? Choosing to give someone else the gift of a family? Loving a child so much that you choose a life you can’t give them?

I spent a full month with Jenny’s family, living in their home, sharing in their meals, welcomed into their family. My heart was both swelling with excitement and breaking for these birth families as the days passed. The more I got to know them, the more I could see the love and selflessness it takes to do what they’ve done. It was a risk for all of us. How would this work once the baby was born? How would they be able to let us go? How would we be able to leave them?

My husband was a few hours away when our son was born, having left our house when Jenny went into labor. We would drive home together; the three of us a brand new family, once the ICPC office and both states cleared us to leave. He couldn’t get to us fast enough, eager to meet the son we hoped would be ours. Jenny’s commitment to the adoption was now being fought by the hormones in her body, the maternal instinct flowing through her veins. She still wanted the adoption to go through, and with the strength of her mother at her side, we were pretty sure this was going to actually happen.

It’s hard to describe the simultaneous joy and sadness this time brought to us. Holding our son in our arms the first time was a happiness like no other, but it was a feeling of elation tempered by the grieving process Jenny and her family were experiencing. The hospital let me room-in with our newborn boy, for which I was extraordinarily grateful, but just a few doors down his birth mother was grieving for the son she would never get to raise. She ached for him. She wept for him. Those two nights in the hospital were a delicate and sad dance, his bassinette rolling back and forth between rooms, all of us doing our best to share this beautiful boy we’d all fallen in love with, balancing our need to bond with their need to spend as much time as they could with him, time that was fleeting, slipping through their fingers like sand.

We offered to leave the room when she signed the papers that morning, her family, the social worker and an attorney all crammed into too small a room. Jenny asked us to stay, so we did, holding our breath as she signed the papers, tears slipping down our cheeks each time the attorney asked her to be sure she understood her signature was irrevocable. We hugged her and promised to be the parents this sweet little boy deserved, we told her we loved her, that we could never really put in words our gratitude, and that we would always make sure he knows how much she loves him. Our words couldn’t possibly have been enough.

A week later the time had finally come. We were heading home, eager to start our lives together. I will never in my life forget that morning. The car was loaded up with a month of my things, and far more baby gear than anyone would ever need—a true sign of first time parents. We came back in the house and watched as Jenny said goodbye, a tiny miracle lying against her chest, silent tears rolling down her cheeks as she cradled him and whispered in his ear.

Thank you. All of you. For your love, your selflessness, the wisdom beyond your years and your amazing sacrifice. We are more grateful than we can ever say, and we think of you with love every day. I wish I could find the right words to tell you how much you mean to us.

A Trip in Peabody’s WABAC Machine

I remember the magical day when my parents (my dad, more specifically) finally broke down and bought a VCR. My unending pleas to “join the 80s” were finally heard, my dad at last conceding that it in fact wasn’t cheaper to rent a VCR from Tapedek every time we wanted to watch a movie, even if they did throw in a free rental. Plus, who wanted to lug that huge plastic case around?

Having just watched The Breakfast Club on Blu-ray, I was taken back to those days, and it got me thinking about childhood crushes. We’d peruse the pages of Tiger Beat and BOP and swapping carefully torn out pages at the cafeteria lunch table.  “You have the new Jason Bateman? I’ll trade you for Chad Allen!”

I was a one-man kind of girl. I was delusionally in love with River Phoenix, my bedroom walls a shrine plastered with his image and articles about his “fave” foods, music, what he looked for in a girlfriend—you know, the kind of hard-hitting journalism Teen Beat was famous for. I watched all of his movies. Even the bad ones (A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon, anyone?). I’d spend my babysitting money on movie tickets and magazines, because I just had to know every detail about my future husband. I was thirteen, and this was serious business.

We were the junior high girls of the 80s, worshipping at the altar of River Phoenix, Michael J. Fox and Matthew Broderick, Jason Bateman and John Stamos, Kirk Cameron and Johnny Depp—the list goes on, the devotion endless. Okay, that isn’t true. The devotion pretty much went out the window around the time our fingers first grasped the car keys our parents handed us with trepidation, but I bet we all still hold a little spot in our hearts for those who adorned our walls before we could drive. Who was your crush?

If you’ll excuse me, I need to go crimp my hair and roll my jeans.