Remember your first crush? Remember how you couldn’t catch your breath, and how you worried that your heart’s pounding could be heard across the room? Remember sleepless nights, imagined kisses, sweaty palms? Remember stumbling beneath the weight of all that unrequited love? So, that’s why we call them crushes. OOOOOHHHH….
Yes, indeed. We all remember them. And try as they might, friends could never keep us from falling for a Mr Wrong, who looked, through our rosy Wayfarers, like a Mr Right. So there we were, succumbing to our crushes. Sometimes, they lived next door. Sometimes they sat behind us in Math class, or rode the same bus, or went to the same church. Sometimes, our girlhood crushes were our best friends’ older brothers. Sometimes, they were going steady with the girl everyone loved to hate (but pretended otherwise). Sometimes, they were famous. Sometimes they were cute, sometimes they were witty, and sometimes, they actually asked us out. But most of the time, they never ever knew how our hearts yearned for them. Our crushes never knew how perfect we’d be for them if they’d just stop and look, because their eyes were unfortunately cast in any direction but ours.
I suppose surviving the girlhood crush must simply be added to the ‘rites of passage’ list. Yep, just tack it on the end there, right after buying the first bra, enduring the ‘sex talk,’ suffering the miseries of the ‘monthlies,’ and simply navigating the jargon of same. And while we survive (mostly) those rites ushering us into womanhood, the burden of the crush often goes unlifted. We move on. We go out on dates, go shopping, read books, have coffee, laugh, cry, learn, grow, love. In short, we are women, so we roar! But all the while the remembered pangs of unrequited first-crush love, pushed to the dusty corners of our lives though they most assuredly are, go untreated. Until now. Because friends don’t let friends hang on to a girlhood crush! No, they simply do not. Instead, friends help exorcise the first crush demon the only way girlfriends can: by helping them even out the score a bit. By giving that girlhood crush a piece of your grown-ass woman mind. Friends, I give you the “Letter to A Crush.”
Trust me. Writing this makes everything better. Especially if you don’t send it. (Most decidedly you mustn’t send it.) Friends don’t let friends languish by hanging on to all that girlhood angst. They put a Bic in her hand and tell her to get it all off her chest…
So, here goes:
I haven’t thought of you in quite some time, but when I was eleven I thought of you with every breath — with every beat of my still tender heart. I went to sleep imagining your larger-than-average smile, and hearing your voice, singing the latest corny love song that you and your famous (and not nearly as cute brothers) had recorded. In my dreams you were smiling and singing – every grin and every note — solely for my pleasure. I could feel your devotion – I knew that if you would visit my state, my hometown, that we would fall in love. It was our destiny. I knew it! And in my dreams destiny and reality were as perfect for each other as you and I.
But reality is a cruel taskmaster, Donny, and you never did come to visit my state, much less my hometown. And since I loved you in a technologically backward time, aka the 1970s, I couldn’t even find you on YouTube. I couldn’t download and store your love songs on an ipod. I had to wait for the sound of your voice to come crackling through an AM radio station. I did manage to purchase a few 45s. I played them endlessly. I knew you were singing just for me when you cried, “And they called it puppy love / Oh, I guess they’ll never know / How a young heart really feels / And why I love her so…” Your declaration that what we shared was NOT a puppy loved helped me hang on, Donny.
I kept the flame of our love burning every day of my 5th grade year. Even when Craig Opdahl asked me to marry him, and I said ‘yes,’ I was still loving you. We got ‘married’ one wintry day on the playground, and when our friend Jeff said “you may kiss the bride” Craig grabbed my mittened hand and kissed it. My heart was pounding of course, because, well, marriage proposals and weddings have a way of making a girl a bit giddy; and frankly, I sort of liked him, you know? I LOVED you, but Craig was kinda cute… The next day when I arrived in our classroom, I found a poster of you on my desk chair, left there by my new ‘husband.’ I liked to think of it as a wedding gift. I kept sneaking peeks at you all day long, and when I got off the bus that afternoon, I ran upstairs to my room and taped your gorgeous face on my closet door. I kissed your lips (even though your giant rabbit teeth were clearly in the way) every night before I went to sleep.
Of course, Craig and I were never meant to have a marriage that lasts. He moved to another town after we finished sixth grade. I’d grown tired of him by then, but remained ‘hopelessly devoted to you.’ I wouldn’t hear the refrains of that treacly love song from the hit musical “Grease” until a few years later, but you must appreciate the sentiment. Supposedly musical yourself, you surely recognize the allusion. And let’s be honest, if I’d tried to throw in the chorus from your brother Jimmy’s dud, “Long-haired Lover from Liverpool” we’d both be a little bit embarrassed.
Junior High came. Mercifully, it passed. But before it was over I’d sustained the requisite knocks and bruises that 13 and 14 year olds delight in inflicting on one another. I’d learned that boys were oftentimes the biggest jerks on the planet (except for you, Donny), and yet, I found myself sometimes dreaming that one of them might ask me out on a date sometime. No dates materialized, and it seemed reasonable that I embrace reality.
Even though I grew a bit older and bit more realistic, I still dreamed of you, and remained one of your biggest fans. When you (and unfortunately!) your equally big-toothed sister Marie finally showed up on television for a few years, I watched you every week. Your voice deepened, your hair grew even longer. Thank goodness your teeth didn’t! Your dance moves seemed a bit cheesy – I think that maybe you and your dancing brothers and spotlight stealing sister didn’t have great choreographers – wasn’t there enough money left after all the orthodontia? You were really, awfully cute though, in an over-sized grin sort of way. But I was growing up, Donny, and you and your Osmond brothers were still cranking out corny love songs while Styx, Boston, The Doobie Brothers, Earth, Wind & Fire, and The Eagles were making music that people actually still listen to today.
I know it can feel a bit mean-spirited, but I do think honesty is always cathartic, don’t you? So I think you should know that absolutely no one listens to “Puppy Love” or “Go Away Little Girl” anymore. On the flip side, who doesn’t still get their groove on when they hear “September” or crank up the volume when “China Grove” comes on? And, though I never inhaled, “Hotel California” is some of the best dope smokin’ music ever recorded. You and your squeaky clean image just couldn’t compete with that.
I was reminded of how desperately I loved you when you tried to revive your career by playing Joseph in the stage production of essentially the same name. Apparently, you worked out before you stepped on the stage, and the women who flocked to see your rock hard abs were probably at one time the girls who flocked to buy your records, believing that you were singing just for them. I didn’t see you in “Joseph” – but not because I wouldn’t have liked to. It was just that I was busy with the rest of my life – you know, career, husband, kids, dog, house and yard – and driving to Chicago to see Donny Osmond in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” was an opportunity that passed me by. I saw you a few years ago when you had a daytime talk show (did you consider that a promotion or a last ditch effort to remain in the public eye?), and I have to admit, I was still a bit taken in by your smile, your voice, your ‘too-cute-for-words’ quality. You were, after all, my first crush. I loved you with all the passion that an eleven-year-old girl with stars in her eyes and dreams in her heart could love you. While our “puppy love” wasn’t really ‘here to stay’ (I mean, I still haven’t even met you!), you taught my heart to sing. It sings (in perfect harmony, by the way) with a man who, for over 30 years has called me his girl, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
So, Donny, thanks for the memories. Oh, and one last thing – remember when you and Marie used to sing that she was “a little bit country” and you were “a little bit rock ‘n’ roll”? Donny. You weren’t. Mick Jagger is rock ‘n’ roll. Jim Morrison is rock ‘n’ roll. Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, and Steven Tyler are rock ‘n’ roll. You, Donny, were merely pop. Sweet pop, to be sure. But soda loses its fizz, doesn’t it? Leaving you flat – just like you left your 5th grade girlfriend….
All my love,
That, my friends, felt good. Try it. You’ll see. Remember, friends don’t let friends hang on to a girlhood crush. Let ’em go, girls. Let ’em go…