Just spoke out loud about One Direction for the first time and oh my god you guys: WAND ERECTION.
Here is the reason I was talking about One Direction: I witnessed some Very Important Moment in a girl’s life in the checkout line at Publix and was explaining it to Joe on the drive home.
The girl was I guess in the eleven-to-thirteen range and the first time I saw her in the store she was plopped in front of the newsstand, reading through either a Simpsons comic or some magazine with a Simpsons comic; I didn’t even realize that was a thing so who knows what it was. Anyway I walked by and my brain just registered “awesome kid who would sit on the grimy-ass floor of a Publix reading a Simpsons comic—ding ding ding, we have a winner” and moved on.
But then when Joe and I were paying for our groceries, she and her mom pulled up in line behind us and she was helping her mom unload their stuff onto the conveyor belt but first she very carefully and proudly set a stack of magazines onto the counter. Teenybopper magazines! I couldn’t tell what they all were but the top one was definitely like a 100% One Direction special edition something or other. She was just beaming.
Also I was beaming, because over the weekend I was in Tennessee visiting my parents and I definitely still have the very few teenybopper magazines I ever bought, all bought at that age—Bop and Tiger Beat and then I think one generic OMG HANSON one—and I had seen them in a stack in my old bedroom and thought about digging through them but did not, but did remember how happy they had once made me. So they were in my brain still when I was watching this girl, maybe kind of creepily actually.
She was just so happy.
But then—then—she saw the rack of Archie comics above the checkout and it briefly turned into a low-grade Sophie’s Choice situation. She was clearly pumped about a new Archie but her mom was all shaking her head like, no, you have enough magazines here already. The girl was wracked with—well, whatever you are wracked with when you are eleven-to-thirteen and faced with this kind of decision.
And this kind of thing is horrible, I know. It’s like this is maybe the one chance you’ll ever have to get any of these things, right here right now, and you want them all, but you can’t get them all, and you didn’t even know but there is a hole in your heart and it’s growing bigger by the moment every moment you don’t have these things and your life will pretty much be ruined if you can’t have them. You like—really like—so few things at that age, are so besot by shit all day long from your friends and your not-friends and your teachers and your parents and everything else, that when there is something shimmering and glorious right in front of you—thirty glossy pages of beautiful boys and their beautiful skin and beautiful hair all more perfect and beautiful than your own, or cartoon teenagers who have been teenagers forever, or whatever—when these things are clear and tangible and happymaking in front of you and you cannot get them, cannot have them, just because your mom says no, or whoever says no—that is just the worst thing. It’s crippling. You’re not a baby, you’re not a kid—you know all the steps a person has to go through to obtain things like that. Those means are clear to you but not accessible by you. So there you are standing at the Publix checkout with all the things you want most in the world in that moment right at your fingertips and your mom is saying no, no, you have enough. She says that and a darkness flickers across your face but you don’t cry or whine—you’re like, practically an adult, so all that happens is some tiny corner of your soul just dies and crumbles and is blown away by the great ceasless howling wind of adolescent desire. You are resigned to your fate. You figure you will die alone, unloved and with your greasy unperfect hair and skin, and it won’t necessarily be because of this but it probably will be.
At least until your mom says, “OK, you can get it, but get rid of one of those three. Put back that top one.” And you light up and begin to bounce, your legs two chubby springs, and you pull down the Archie with one hand and swipe the top one with the other, quick as some tiny blackjack dealer, and you hop down the asile to refile it on the newsstand, and your mother is resigned and heavy-faced all the while, even when you stop to wrap your arms around her and murmur into her side, “Thank you, Mommy.”
And the girl—the lady—in line in front of you, who you never noticed, cannot stop grinning like a weirdo, because she knows how it is. She knows it is summer and school is rolling away into the sunset like so much highway asphalt in the rearview mirror of your mind and three whole months are spread out in front of you, glistening and hopeful, and you have these beautiful boys that you love, and their songs, and also these magazines—two whole magazines!—full of so many things you can learn about them, and pictures, so you can study the gentle cuts of their jaws and their highlights and skinny arms, turning the pages over and over and over again. And for when you want to feel like a little kid again you have Archie. You will always have Archie. You will one day grow old but Archie never will. But for now you are not old, you are very very young, and you love your Mommy, and you cannot wait to be home.
And in the car that lady you never even noticed will explain about all this to her husband and then realize that the name of this band you love sounds like some kind of dirty Harry Potter joke, but she will still be so happy for you.