In case you’ve been living on another planet, Richard Dean Anderson created the television character MacGyver in the ‘80s. The first thing you probably noticed about this character was his boyish smile and great hair. After that, it might dawn on you that he also had a knack for using common household items to get himself out of life-threatening dilemmas. In fact, the climax of every show involved MacGyver surviving situations like getting trapped in a room with a ticking bomb with nothing to save himself except, oh, I don’t know, dryer lint and a Bic pen.
Okay, I made up the part about the dryer lint. But the real storylines didn’t sound any more plausible. For example, once he had to destroy a laser. Thank goodness he had cigarettes and binoculars on hand!
He plugged an acid leak with chocolate. He repaired a blown fuse with a gum wrapper. He recharged a battery with wine. And when his getaway car had a broken radiator, all he had to save himself were egg whites but—wouldn’t you know it?—that’s exactly what he needed to do the job.
But back to the crush thing.
Not that I’m advocating having crushes on fictional characters or even celebrities. For one thing, these kinds of relationships can feel one-sided. This is because fictional characters and celebrities rarely return phone calls. The best you can hope for is that, after placing hundreds of phone calls to a celebrity, you might get a response in the form of a restraining order. So you can see that, for the amount of effort you have to expend in order to get any kind of response at all, you really are better off owning a fish.
Nevertheless, we’ve all done the celebrity crush thing.
And not just women. Guys have crushes, too.
Last week I attended a banquet for couples and singles in their forties and above.
At my table, eight acquaintances chatted politely about their careers, the ages of their children, the price of gas and the economy. It was all very grownup and eventually I couldn’t stand it one more minute.
I looked at the guy across from me and said very seriously, “Dave, can I ask you something?.”
He said, “Sure.”
I said, “Your answer will reveal alot about you, but please be as honest as possible. Are you ready?”
By now we had the attention of everyone at our table. Dave sat up straighter and squared his jaw.
I posed my question: “Ginger or Mary Ann?”
Turns out, among the men at our table, three’d had crushes on Mary Ann and one still carried a torch for Mrs. Howell. When the choice was between Jan and Marsha, I thought we’d have an even split until one man opted out and voted for Emma Peel of the Avengers. When someone brought up police women and the choice came down to Angie Dickenson or Sharon Gless as Chris Cagney, the boys at our table scoffed and said no contest: Angie won hands down.
By now, there wasn’t a single grownup at our table. Oh, to the casual observer I imagine we still looked like men and women approaching fifty. But I knew differently. I knew that, at least for a moment, the year was 1969 and we were all in the throes of our first adolescent crushes.
For the rest of the evening, memories and laughter flowed freely, and by the time we parted ways, there were promises to get together again, perhaps at someone’s home, maybe for dinner, maybe to watch The Wizard of Oz with the sound muted and Pink Floyd on the stereo.
We’d come a long way from casual acquaintances making grownup small talk. And, if you ask me, that’s a feat even MacGyver could appreciate.