Love Lessons From My Celebrity Loves
I have many good reasons to question my taste in men. Fortunately, most of those reasons are in my imagination, as my real world taste is delicious, if not the cause of occasional indigestion (or emotional diarrhea, perhaps hives, periodic convulsions and flare-ups lasting more than 4 hours – but mostly tasty and good for me.)
Recently single for the first time since long before people could swear and show boobies on TV, I’ve been analyzing (which is a gross overstatement, it’s more like judging and making fun of) my celebrity crushes in order to gain greater understanding about my take on relationships (which is really the many ways my mother’s propensity for frequent marriage may have totally screwed me.)
There are some clear trends here. They are like giant warnings on cigarette boxes and remind me that I should not inhale – much less swallow or follow – my drive to dive into the lowest common denominator.
Now, my longest relationship was with Johnny Depp. It started when he was on 21 Jump Street and I was putting jell-o in my hair to recreate the Flock of Seagulls glamour, with a hint of Thompson Twins whimsy. Johnny and I were immediately drawn to each other for reasons that were – and still are – blatantly obvious to the naked eye. I was (ahem, WAS) shallow (then.) However, it was his dark and brooding nature that provided decades of exploration. It’s not that I hung on his every hyper-intellectual and altruistic word on the cosmic nature of openness and meaning of life, (honestly, like most people, I tuned out half of what he said, only looking for opportunities to interject my own imagined fabulousness.) But his darkness needed my light, is what drew me in, and got me stuck. I knew that someday, he would look at me and smile, and I would know that I was the one person who could make him laugh, smile, relax and stop worrying so much. It was my light, MINE, that could save him. There are few things as addictive as the power of believing that you are that powerful. Indeed, It kept Johnny and I together for decades.
I don’t want you to think that I was the perfect and monogamous imaginary girlfriend in my fantasy love life. Far from it, there were dalliances. (Does anyone fantasize about chastity?) Mostly, I had flings with professional athletes. Rick Fox and I were quite the item. He didn’t have to think and brood all the time, and wasn’t afraid to offend me with anything he brought to me, no matter how big and hard it was. I never had to wonder what he was really thinking and feeling, there was no drama, (Well, there was the time when his wife, Vanessa, caught us, but we wound up being best girlfriends because, really, we’re both so awesome.) But it wasn’t enough for me, as I was still young enough to believe that I needed to change the world. And that I could.
Besides Rick, there were a handful of intellectual / athlete hybrids. Tony Hawk and I have had a thing for almost as long as Johnny and I, but it is just an “in the moment” thing, when it happens, it happens. He’s probably perfect for me, which is dull. I mean, where’s the challenge in a guy who is gorgeous, successful, buff, creative, smart and dedicated? I dunno, I see that and I see a roasted chicken breast with brussell sprouts – sure, it’s good for you, but, um, where’s the high? More importantly, who, exactly, could I blame if things went rotten with the perfect man?
I always returned to Johnny. It was perfect. I could hold on to my delusion of omnipotence while making myself both a martyr and blameless for the dark nature of our relationship. It’s the romance trifecta!
Eventually, I grew up enough to realize that I didn’t want to spend my life trying to light up the perfectly dark Johnny. We parted ways amicably and in love, but resigned to the disfunctionality of it all. (He is, of course, still terribly in love with me, and I love him too, but…..)
This is when Hugh Jackman and I fell hopelessly in love. He was the first man since Tony who had it all – creativity, fitness, success, abs, brains etc… But I had reached the age where I realized that sense of humor is perhaps the most important thing. (This would lead me down some ironically dark paths in the future. I’ll just say Larry David and leave it at that, for now.) Hugh had been courting me for sometime, and we’d been having quite the hot fling – the natural skill that he brought to our cosplay adventures were, well…. Those razor claws bring new meaning to the thin line between pleasure and pain! But when I saw him sing and dance on Broadway, in hot pink ruffles, I fell in love. I knew that this was someone with whom I could laugh in the face of life’s tendencies towards painful irony. He was funny, able to embrace joy, and didn’t take himself or his image too seriously. Hugh was, in many ways, the perfect example of the maturity with which I had come to look at relationships. He didn’t need me to save him, he didn’t need to leash me in with promises or potential, he let me be as big and wonderful as I could be. We were perfect.
Which is why it sucked when I slipped into my old ways and realized there was no one to blame but myself. First, it was Hugh Laurie. I fell for that brooding doctor with all the jello-slicked, reckless slippiness that had first led me to plumb the depths of my fair Depp. It was his darkness. He needed me like Hugh Senior (who I had to start calling Wolfie when I took up with Hugh 2,) just didn’t. Wolfie was fine without me, but Hugh 2? Hugh 2 had a wounded little boy inside of him who needed saving. I was just the woman to do it. Every aloof non-response he uttered to my sensitive questions was just an invitation in deeper, to a magic kingdom only I could access, if I just found the right key it would be bliss.
I would have thought that my fall off the wagon to Hugh 2 was as bad as it could get, then, however, I met Larry David. Larry was like a drug for me. All the darkness and contemplation of the greatest loves of my life, but with humor! And, his ability to make fun of himself (and everyone around him) seemed like the kind of direct honesty of the jocks. Indeed, I saw it as a virtue, “At least you always know where you stand! People just aren’t honest enough in these PC days.” This is where irony wields her un-sexy razor claws. The more I realized that his humor and honesty was just an unmitigated pile of judgment, anger, self-hatred and fear, the more I realized that he needed me to save him. My friends would try to tell me that Larry was just an asshole, but I wouldn’t hear it. “He’s really sweet inside, you just don’t know him. ” I knew him. That’s how I knew I was special.
“Want more kool-aid, little girl? Funny thing about kool-aid, you know that it’s made my Chinese children and they breathe in so much of it that they become infertile, it may be a plot to curb population. Also, my mother never let us have kool-aid, she couldn’t be bothered, we were just a hassle.” Oh Larry, he used to say stuff like that all the time….. I loved him like his mother never could.
My friends, at this point, were wondering if this was the proverbial “rock bottom.” I mean, it can’t get worse than Larry David. Then I met David Sedaris.
David was perfect for me. He had it ALL. And, as an added bonus, he was gay and lived in Europe. That, right there, is the ultimate unattainable man AND project, all in one. Indeed, if I could shine my love-light brightly enough into his rat’s nest of a soul, I could save him and prove myself the ultimate heroine fighting for the power of love and purity against the forces of cynicism and impossibility.
It was time for an intervention.
I remember it well. Sitting on the couch, watching David on The Daily Show, (John and I, of course, have also been madly in love for years, but it’s like the Tony Hawk thing, enduringly pointless in a wonderful way.) As I pined for him, his whiny childlike voice dove into my soul delivering not unrequited love, but clarity. It was, at that moment, unavoidable. The truth, that I was looking to be the perfect mother that I never had to a long string of pathetic men who could at once validate me and leave me blameless, was obvious. I was hooked. Mainlining emotionally stunted men as a way to numb my own pain and avoid any responsibility for my own relationships.
I will always be grateful to David, though we can never see each other again, it’s too painful and too potent. (I do, sometimes, listen to Santa Land Diaries in the car, but it’s not like I can really do anything just with the sound of his voice. I think of it like an allergy shot, being around it, but not reacting to it makes me stronger, right?)
Anyway, I’m in recovery now. A few randoms have caught my eye. Matthew Morrison, but let’s face it, he’s just a young Hugh Senior. But I think I’m looking for normal now. Stable, dependable, with old-fashioned values. Doesn’t need me, just wants me, and can let me be me. Like the perfect father, in a way. But not THAT way, jeesh.
What about Bob Saget? He seems nice.