Here's another brief installment from the book I'm writing about growing up in LA in the 60s. It's 1963/4. I'm in Junior High in the San Fernando Valley. I have a huge crush on classmate Ann Jillian (who already was a child star).
That entire freshman year I was on a cloud. We even went bowling once!
From time to time she would be away for a month or so filming an episode of WAGON TRAIN or the television classic – SAMMY, THE WAY OUT SEAL for the Sunday night DISNEYLAND program. Those were always long months and I never allowed myself to consider that she probably wasn’t missing me (and if she thought of me at all it was when she had to dance with the seal) but she always returned and things went right back to normal.
But one time she didn’t come back.
Her parents enrolled her in St. Mel’s, a Catholic school. I was devastated. Persuading my parents that St. Mel’s wasn’t that Catholic and I should transfer didn’t really fly. Life was suddenly very empty. I’d come home everyday and just go to my room and draw dark comic books. I don’t remember who the superhero was. I just remember the arch villain was always the Pope.
In time the pain for Ann began to fade. And the Dodgers sweeping the Yankees in the ’63 World Series didn’t hurt. I tried to keep in touch but it was hard. She was always going off to film a BEN CASEY or TWILIGHT ZONE episode (So in addition to Ringo, I now had to worry about hunks like Vince Edwards and Rod Serling stealing her away.) We eventually drifted apart but reconnected about thirty years ago and have remained friends ever since. My schoolboy crush has been replaced by enormous admiration for all she’s accomplished and the inspiration she has selflessly given to others.
Anyway, I was determined to learn something from this experience. I would never make that same mistake – I would never again give my heart to someone I knew would never return my affections.
My next crush was my teacher.
Miss. Perlman was probably 25. It’s hard to tell with older women. I was 13. She taught Public Speaking. Yes, there was the slight age difference but on the plus side there was no religious conflicts and I never had to worry she’d go off for a month to film a GILLIGAN’S ISLAND episode. But she was engaged and I found that to be a hurdle I couldn’t quite clear by dazzling her with my speech on federal embargos.
So I would just gaze up at her in class, fantasizing about us both being naked, doing things I had only heard about, she calling out “Ohh Kennnny!” and me calling back “Ohhh Miss Perlmannnn!”
Still, I thank her for at least diverting my attention from Ann and serving as a nice transitional infatuation until my hormones were ready to move on. And she once told me to tuck in my shirt. So she had to be looking at my crotch.