A few days ago, I heard the sad news that Farrah Fawcett has cancer. It reminded me of something I wrote in the early days of Syntax of Things, something I'm going to repost here. Get better soon, Farrah.
Long before my wife Elaine or my first wife Jen, long before the numerous declarations of love I made as a high schooler or the crushes on the likes of Ashley Judd and Juliette Binoche, even before the fling I had with a sixth grader when I was in third grade, I fell in love with Farrah. It wasn't exactly the living, breathing Farrah who talked to the invisible Charlie and who tracked down dangerous criminals with her fellow Angels. It was actually this image. I was seven when I first spotted her hanging on the wall of a T-shirt shop in the Selma Mall. Of all the options available, the cars and comic book characters, I wanted nothing more, would think of nothing but having her ironed on the front of a light blue shirt, my name in dark blue letters on the back.
I no longer know what inspired this need. Was it the pearly whites casting some sort of hypnotic spell? Was it the hair? Was it the, well, obvious?
So I was seven and being given the privilege of picking out my own design because I had scored perfect S's on my first report card. Being a budding scholar did not give me the freedom of choice I had expected. It seems the one image in the entire shop that my mom refused to allow on a T-shirt was the one I coveted. No matter how much I begged, no matter that I offered to buy it with my own money, my mom refused to see beyond the implied pornography. After all, what would the other mothers think? What would my dad think? What was her seven-year-old boy thinking?
This story could end with a plot hatched by a precocious thwarted lover to convince an older cousin to buy the shirt for him. Or some fashion of rebellion in which I refused to eat my lima beans until I could wear my love on my chest. But it ends with a distant second choice, an image of Bo and Luke Duke leaning against the General Lee. Despite the jealousy of my friends, John Schneider and Tom Wopat could not ease the pain of my unrequited love.