Friday, August 17, 2012

My First Girlfriend (or I heart Phoebe Cates)

When I was six years old, I got my first girlfriend.  Everyone remembers their first, but mine was that much more special.  The reason I say this, is because she was more than just my first girlfriend.  She was also the first older woman I dated, and my first celebrity girlfriend. 

Her name was Phoebe Cates, and you may remember her for roles in films such as Bright Lights, Big City and Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  The latter I did not appreciate until I was older.  If you don’t know why I made this last comment; Stop reading now, visit Google, and search “Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High”. 

Moving along, I first fell in love with Phoebe after watching Gremlins 2: the New Batch.  For the record, Gremlins 2 is not a great movie.  On its best day, it probably isn’t even a good movie.  Looking back on it, the film probably should have gone straight to video with other classics sequels such as “The Blob 2” and “Revenge of the Nerds 4: Nerds in love”.   

This would turn out to be a pattern in my life.  Most girlfriends I’ve ever had turned out to be an actress in bad movies.  My last girlfriend was an actress too.  I won’t say her name or films she has done, but let’s just say, “Meryl Streep she is not”.  Ms. X (or "whore" as she is often referenced as) has only done two movies, one of which I wrote and directed.  Although I love movies, I’m not quite Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese or (Insert your favorite writer/director here).  The other movie she did is referred to by many (mainly me) as “Mexican Retarded Superman”.  I could go on about the monstrosity and stupidity that is “Mexican Retarded Superman”, but I will leave that for another time and a different blog. 

Back to Phoebe.  The year was 1990 and I was a chubby little kid living in my parent’s two bedroom apartment in Baltimore.  I had no direction, and my love life was even worse.  Nicole Melon just rejected me.  My teacher Ms. Sinclair’s assistant, Audrey, rejected me one day after Art class, and on top of it all, my Gold Fish, “George Bush Sr.” died.  Times were tough, and being young, I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions.  These days, if I get rejected, I just wear jogging pants, listen to a lot of Elliot Smith and sometimes grow a beard.  When I was six, there was no Elliott Smith, and a beard was out of the question.  So, at the time, eating a lot of cookies and watching movies in my Batman underoos (or jogging pants) was the best possible remedy.   

One day, after eating three packages of Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chip cookies, I like most children, young adults or even mature adults got what is known as a “sugar high”.  Hyper, I bounced off the walls, danced and sang Kiss’ “Detroit Rock City” as loud as I could.  Looking back on it, this was a probably a product of very mediocre parenting.  What parent lets their child run around house, yelling and eating cookies?

This mediocre parenting was however redeemed, when my mother sometimes referred to as Mary, brought in a copy of the Gremlins sequel.  In an attempt to calm me down, she put the old video cassette in the VCR and left it up to God to shut me up.  At first, this attempt failed. 

The movie played in the background, as I continued to be fat, loud and obnoxious.  Even worse, I switched from singing Kiss in their prime to mid 80’s Kiss (when they took off the makeup and sang mediocre pop songs such as “Lick it up” and “God gave Rock and Roll to you”).  I was in the middle of singing the bridge of “Heaven’s on Fire”, a Paul Stanley track off the Animalize album, when it happened. 

At exactly fourteen minutes and six seconds into the craptacular, Gremlins 2: the New Batch, I saw her.  Our eyes locked and I hung onto her every word.  She was an angel.  Reo Speedwagon’s “Can’t fight this feeling anymore” played in my head, as I glorified this sweet and romantic moment into a scene from a cheesy 1980’s movie.  My mother walked into the living room, surprised I was no longer bouncing off the walls, or singing 80’s hair metal.  Instead she found me standing perfectly still, entranced by this beautiful creature. 

“Are you okay?” My now concerned mother asked me.   

“Never in my life have I been better, Mother” I said, barely understandable and even less grammatically correct (but still advanced for a six year old). 

An awkward moment passed.  My childhood cat, Morris stared at my mother who looked at me.  I stared at Phoebe, as she gazed at her Gremlins’ co-star Zach Gillian with eyes of desperate longing.  It did not bother me she was looking at another, and slightly better looking man.  Phoebs was playing a character.  It wasn’t really her looking at Zach, but Kate Beringer (her character) looking at Billy Petzler (his character in the movie).  Besides, I’m pretty sure Zach was gay in “real life”; although my age and lack of knowledge of homosexuality probably made this a non-issue at the time.

That awkward moment, which seemed like seventeen years ended when I finally asked my mother “Who is that?” 

“Zach Gillian” My mother said. 

“The girl dammit!?!?!?” I yelled, interrupting the middle aged red head. 

A heated conversation ensued, as my mother grew frustrated with my young but foul, and obscene mouth.  She went on to tell me, how I shouldn’t talk that way, and more poppy cock about me being grounded when my father got home; but that didn’t matter.  The only thing that mattered, was finding out this girl’s name.  It was love at first sight, and I needed to put a name to this young, angelic face.  After several seconds of begging, my mother finally answered me. “Phoebe Cates” she said, before leaving the room in an escalated state of irritation. 

Hearing Phoebe’s name was not just the best name I’d ever heard, but the greatest noise as well.  When you’re in love, their name just sounds different.  It’s like hearing your favorite poem, a waterfall or (insert your favorite sound/noise here).  There are no other problems in the world.  It’s just you, her, your television and your beloved Batman underoos.  Other than that, there isn’t a care in the world.  So we had to be destined to live happily ever after… Or did we? 

Our relationship was like any other.  It had its ups, downs, highs and lows.    We had a tough time when I moved on to first grade, and started seeing other women.  It is tough and somewhat shameful to think about other women, when you already have someone not only nice, but beautiful back home.  Like a bad “lifetime” movie, I became complacent and bored.  I hit rock bottom when I cheated on her, with Jodi Sweeten who played Stephanie Tanner on the sitcom Full House. 

Jodi was there for me every week, once a week for eight years, but also closer to my age.  Phoebe was neither.  She was known to go off for years at time, enjoying her marriage to The Big Chill’s Kevin Kline, while I settled for seeing her in straight to video releases such as Princess Caraboo and the abysmal Drop Dead Fred.  It was like Brokeback Mountain, only I was Jake Gyllenhall, to Phoebe’s Heath Ledger.  I just couldn’t take being neglected on that damn Brokeback Mountain anymore.  I mean, I wish I could quit her, but it was tough.  So after a long period of soul searching, we parted ways.  She retired from movies, and had children with Kevin, leaving me to play the field ever since. 

I did, actually see her once.   It was 2002, when she did the low budget; indie film entitled The Anniversary Party.  Kevin was there, and they seemed happy.  I was glad for her, and I’m pretty sure, she was happy for me as well.  It’s hard to tell, with her inside the television set and all.    

I try not to think about where she is now, or how happy she might be without me.  Ultimately, I try to focus on the good times and happy thoughts we shared.  I think back on that winter day in Baltimore when we first met.  Sometimes the oddest things trigger these memories, and I feel the same emotions I did decades ago. 

Whenever I see a Gremlin walk down the street, eat a Mrs. Field’s cookie, or see Zach Gillian begging for change on a city corner, I’m reminded of her.  Sometimes when “Can’t fight this feeling anymore” comes on the radio, I cut together a montage in my head of all the good times we had, and I’m back in my parent’s apartment, wearing Batman underoos.  This is behavior, my therapist tells me is “unhealthy”, but I tend to disagree.  I like to think of it as “looking back with love and fondness”.

My friend Joe Anderson once told me to go to Google and search how many women are in the world.  According to numbers taken last year, there are exactly 3,301,112,087 women in the world.  If we are lucky, that number dwindles down to one, and we meet that person we are destined to be with.  Even now as a married man, I feel there will always be a special place in my heart for former film star, and current wife of Academy Award winner Kevin Kline, Phoebe Cates. 

She was the first woman I ever laid eyes on that didn’t reject me or give me the “cooties”.  She was also my first love, my first crush and still arguably the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.  I just hope, when I settle down with “the one”; (also known as) star of films such as Black Swan and Garden State, Natalie Portman... Phoebe isn't too jealous. 

P.S. Don't tell my wife about any of this...