Back in the mid-1980s, I belonged to the Corey Hart Fan Club. I think I was around twelve years old at the time, and his album "First Offense" had been out for a year or two. It all started when I snuck out to a nearby shopping mall in the middle of a rainstorm to buy it. It cost me $8.99. I felt rebellious and wicked, tempting myself so with the possibility of sin. When my uncle saw me on the road afterward and stopped to give me a lift home, I kept the tape hidden in my bag and did my best to act very business-as-usual.
I went through phases of desperately wishing that I were a normal girl, the kind who dreamed of weddings and children and the kind who had crushes on boys and wore cute sweaters, and this was one of those times. Most of the other females in my class seemed to be moving fluidly into glittery eyeshadow and blue mascara, while I was busy making up imaginary ancient societies out of toothpicks and artificially aged tinfoil. I thought that if I joined the Corey Hart Fan Club along with all the giggly, crushing girls who had already joined, it would act as a sign of my normalcy. My Corey Hart Fan Club letters would act as my ticket into a world from which I had largely been excluded. I would get fan club lettters addressed to me, and my mother and friends would see the envelopes and know that everything was on the up and up. I hoped that the fan club letters would be somehow transformative, that they would help make me into a real girl.
I know, how very Pinocchioan of me.
When the first letter from the Corey Hart Fan Club arrived in the mail, my mother handed me the envelope, grinning at me in that aw-you've-just-hit-puberty way. The grin made me twitch, but wasn't this what I was looking for? I took the letter down to the basement, put it on my father's desk, and stared at it. I didn't want to open it. The ways of girls were quite foreign to me, and if some form of girlness hit me, I wasn't sure what it would be like. Would I blush when I read the first lines of the letter? Would I suddenly like-like him as the other girls apparently like-liked him?
I sat and stared at that envelope until my mother called me for supper. The Corey Hart Fan Club was causing me more stress than I knew what to do with. I knew that my reaction was utterly ridiculous, but I felt that I was hanging on to some precipice from which I would surely fall if I opened that envelope. I made a deal with myself that I had to open it before supper or throw it out and never know the outcome.
My mother shouted down the stairs that supper was getting cold, so I made the leap and worked open the end of the envelope with my thumb. I pulled out the letter and unfolded it. There on the page was a colour copy of a poorly faked personal letter with Corey Hart's handwriting in turquoise ink. My heart folded into itself. Boys, at least the ones that I knew, wrote with ballpoint pens or pencils, not fat turquoise markers. This small error in judgment by those responsible for the fan club managed to destroy the current myth I had running of my finding girlhood. I could see through the strange façade of the colour photocopy and poor design, the little Xs and Os next to his signature, the promise that he would regale me with tales of life on tour in his next letters. I wondered what it was like to be those girls who had Corey Hart posters on their walls and talked about Corey Hart and did not become grossly depressed over this sort of thing. I wanted to feel giddy and cute and swoony, but all I felt was the taint of failure and hunger for Old El Paso tacos.
A few days later, I noticed the Corey Hart Fan Club letter lying on my dresser, and when it elicited no response in me whatsoever except a weird self-contained embarrassment, I was relieved. I knew that I didn't want to be like I was told girls were to be. I knew that I wasn't like what I was told girls were to be, and I kind of felt like an asshole for even trying. I took my Corey Hart fan club letter, tore it up, and tossed it in the garbage bin outside. And then, after a bit of thought, I went back to my room and took down that hideous Kirk Cameron poster from his "Growing Pains" days that I had put up two months before when I was asked if I liked any boys. My initial reaction had been What on God's green earth are you talking about? before borrowing the poster from my best friend to cover my tracks. The fact that I had coloured his eyes in with white out to make him look more evil undermined the whole pretend crush thing, anyway.
To this day, I wonder if I'm still on a Corey Hart Fan Club list somewhere.
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