Bulls, Beatles and Back to the Future: My adolescent loves

I was driving home from work yesterday when the perfectly coiffed, bobble-headed pre-teen heartthrob otherwise known as Justin Bieber came on the radio. After my knee-jerk (or elbow-jerk) reaction to change the station, I got to thinking – if the 13-year-old me was living in 2010, who would my celebrity crush be?

Zac Efron?


Robert Pattinson?

Little Bieber?

Is having weird flat-ironed hair a requirement for teen heartthrobs these days?

I guess it’s an improvement from Justin Timberlake’s brillo pad Bozo wig in the late nineties.

To be honest, the 13-year-old me had some slightly unconventional celebrity crushes. Sure, I held my Jordan Knight New Kids on the Block trading cards especially close to my heart, and I managed to convince myself that I was probably J.C. Chasez’s “type” and all we had to do was meet and it would be love at first sight.

But neither Jordan nor J.C. with their smooth dance moves and disturbing falsettos could hold a candle to the main celebrity crushes of my twisted adolescent life. I like to refer to them as The Big Three.

#1 – B.J. Armstrong

Ok people who didn’t live in Chicago in the nineties – I can hear you muttering “B.J. who?” under your breath. Allow me to introduce you to the cutest professional basketball player to ever hit the hardwood. At least as of the year 1999 – that was probably the last time I watched an NBA game.

From 1993-1996, the level of obsession I had with NBA basketball and the Chicago Bulls could best be described as fanatical (and worst described as unhealthy). And if you’re wondering why I stopped being so obsessed in 1996 right in the middle of their Repeat Three-peat, I’ll just say this: high school. Friends and a social life replaced my TV and basketball hoop on weekend nights. Thank God.

Anyway, B.J. Armstrong was the Bulls’ point guard in the early nineties and he managed to dribble his way into my heart with his cute smile and baby face. Every night, I slept underneath my B.J. Armstrong poster across the room from my B.J. Armstrong pennant. I think I might have cried when the Bulls released him in the 1995 Expansion Draft and he was snatched up by the Raptors. Since alcohol was not an option at that point, I drowned my sorrows in Nutty Bars.

#2 – Paul McCartney

When all the other girls in high school were swooning at the sight of the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC on MTV (ok fine, I liked those groups too), I was watching A Hard Day’s Night and adding to my ever-increasing collection of Beatles CDs. My B.J. Armstrong poster was replaced by this poster of the Fab Four.

Paul was my dream man. Musically talented with a cute baby face (noticing a pattern here?). He wanted to hold my hand. And I would have given anything to oblige.

The weird thing is that in real time, Paul McCartney was actually a wrinkly (yet still charming) old man. This Paul did not interest me – I was all about the mop-top Paul in tight pants on the Ed Sullivan Show. Also, I really liked the long-haired hippie Paul and the way he sang “Smiles awaa-aa-aa-aake you when you rise” in Golden Slumbers. Who am I kidding, I still love the guy.

#3 – Michael J. Fox

It all started with Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties. “Alex Keaton, he’s so cute!” (If you get that reference, give yourself a point. This point has no value and cannot be redeemed for cash. Just know that I like you.)

On most Sunday nights in the 80s, you could find me at my grandparents’ house watching Family Ties. I remember being disappointed whenever I heard the production credit, Sit Ubu, sit. Good dog!– that meant the show was over.

Alex was an intelligent, outspoken Republican who was hilariously uptight, a cheapskate, and super cute. Sounds eerily similar to my husband, come to think of it…

And we can’t forget about Back to the Future. I loved Marty McFly even more than Alex. I think that movie began my love of puffy vests. And Huey Lewis. Both of those things remind me of Michael J. Fox. I think he’s my density. (You can’t get enough of my obscure references, can you??)

Ok, my lunch break was over 5 minutes ago. Time to extract myself from this haze of adolescent heartthrob love.

Who were your random celebrity crushes? Let me know so I can stop feeling so weird about the B.J. Armstrong one…

In the meantime, I’m going to work on making normal hair cool again so my kids don’t end up idolizing boy bands who make Chia Pets out of their hair or something crazy like that.

Adventures in Chi-town

Even though it’s been almost five years since I moved from Chicago to St. Louis, I still feel like I sort of half live there. My family and a vast majority of my friends are still there, so between weddings, holidays, family events, and big parties that we just don’t want to miss, Will and I probably make the 4.5 hour trek up I-55 at least every other month. I could probably drive that route in my sleep at this point, and come to think of it, I think I literally have – I do it so much I even dream about it.

Last weekend was our latest Chi-town adventure. Normally when we go up there, we try to pack as many people and events as we can into a 48-hour period, and this weekend was no exception. Below is the play-by-play for your reading pleasure.


8:30 am – 4:30 pm: Work. Blah.

4:30 pm: Pick up Gatsby at home. He immediately jumps into his crate when I tell him we are going to go see Riley, my parents’ dog and his homosexual love interest. More on this later.

5 pm: Arrive in downtown STL to pick Will up from work. Start texting him incessantly when he still hasn’t come down after 20 minutes of me waiting at the curb. Give him my best You Have Displeased Me look when he finally gets to the car.

5:20 pm – 10 pm: Drive. Drive. Drive. Cornfield mirage of something resembling civilization. Blink. Drive more.

10 pm: Arrive at my parents’ house in Wheaton. Let Gatsby out of his crate so he can explode from the car like a solo piece of canine confetti.

10:05 pm: Watch Gatsby latch himself onto Riley’s rear end like he’s hugging a redwood tree. Vigorous humping ensues. Riley tries to escape, but Gatsby is a quick one, even on two legs. I feel like I’m watching a sick furry conga line.

10:30 pm: Chat with parents while trying to keep the humping to a minimum.

12 am: Bed.


10:30 am: Go with my mom to meet my cute (and very pregnant) friend Stacey and her mom for breakfast at Egglectic. I try to fit in good breakfast food during all of my Chicago trips as I feel St. Louis is very lacking in that department for some reason.

12:30 pm: Return to my parents’ house to find Gatsby humping Riley. Give Riley an extra scratch behind the ears for being such a trooper and not biting my dog in half.

1 pm: My sister and MK and Vicki (two of my mom’s longtime friends) come over so we can plan our trip to Charleston, SC in a few weeks. We are going to visit MK’s daughter Becca, and I CANNOT WAIT. Palm trees? Yes, please.

3 pm: Head to the West Loop to meet up with a bunch of our college friends. Bar food and beer. Good times.

7pm: BULLS GAME!! I had not been to one of these since high school. Since we were such a big group (there were over 25 of us), we got a special shout out on the jumbo-tron (IWU 2004!) and free posters of some guy named Derrick Rose. Score!

7:30 pm: Take this picture. I am the only one who looks like an ass. Go figure.

8 pm: At this point, I am probably on my 4th beer. My memory of the rest of the night goes something like this: Luv-a-Bulls are wearing sequins and pleather. I find this amusing. Will is wearing his coat everywhere because he’s afraid someone will steal it. Also amusing. Emily puts her gum on the side of her cup while she’s drinking. This is so college. Guess what? I find it amusing. The game is over. I miss B.J. Armstrong. Hey, we’re at a bar! Pineapple hurricane $5 special? Don’t mind if I do! This bar stool is getting increasingly precarious. Time to leave. Stop at El Famous Burrito? Don’t mind if I do! Shouldn’t it be El Burrito Famoso? Huh. Chit chat with Megan and Amit about creepy rural Missouri meth addicts. Aaaaaaannnnnnd SLEEP.


9 am: Wake up. Shockingly, with no hang-over. This is turning out to be a GREAT weekend.

10 am: My parents pick us up at Megan’s condo and we head to North Ave. Beach to watch my brother-in-law Mark dive into ice cold Lake Michigan wearing nothing but a swimsuit and Indian headdress. Mark is odd, but even this behavior is abnormal for him. It’s called the Polar Plunge and it’s for charity.

11:30 am: 3rd Coast for brunch. This is my very favorite hidden gem of a restaurant in the Gold Coast. I’m only sharing it with you because you are nice enough to read my blog, but don’t tell too many people about it. If I have to wait to be seated the next time I go there, I know who to blame…

2 pm: Stop back in Wheaton to pick up Gatsby. His romantic weekend with Riley is over. He looks depressed.

3 pm: Drive back to St. Louis for what seems like THE REST OF MY LIFE. These drives home are always the worst.

8 pm: Home! Oscars! Great end to a great weekend!