If you've ever written to a teenybopper crush—or merely covered your walls with posters that you kissed goodnight—know this: You are not alone. Last week, Newsweek.com published "Hopelessly Devoted"—Alicia Coffman's description of her tween love life in fan letters—and asked readers to submit their own stories of celebrity puppy love. Excerpts from our mailbag:
Crushed by My Crush:
By Roxanne Van Doren
"Bobby [Sherman] was unbelievably cool in the late sixties. It was a great time to be a pre-pubescent teen. My idol maximus had big googly brown eyes and adorable dimples nestled inside chipmunk cheeks just perfect for a quick pinch. If I ever got close enough. He wore hip-hugging pants, chokers, wild flowery shirts and he had a chair shaped like a hand where he sat in the palm. Okay, maybe that wasn't his chair but it was on the cover of his album 'Forever, Bobby,' and I was certain from this and the other fun shots of him he was definitely the kind of guy who could be my groovy boyfriend, make that husband (I always aimed high) if he just held out for 9 or 10 years.
"He didn't. I still remember the day I picked up my latest copy of Tiger Beat from my mailbox. Oh yes, I was a longtime subscriber to that and 16 (bless my mom for understanding the need to feed my devotion). I opened the latest issue and whizzed past the far-too-many David Cassidy articles—phfffft—and read the story that my Mr. Perfect, my man, had quietly and suddenly married. My crush had crushed me. How could he do this to me? He didn't call. He didn't write. Who is this hussy he married? What do you mean they're expecting a baby? He just got married. How does that happen? Yup. I was very young but I remember handling the news with all the maturity an 8-year-old could muster. I didn't sob. I didn't kick down doors. I just did what most young girls do when their idol moves on; I did too."
'N Sync ... but Out of Cash:
By Amy Lenz
"I was obsessed with 'N Sync and I'm sure if they were still a group, I would still be obsessed with them. It all started in July of 1998 when they had a concert special on the Disney channel. I saw it once and was hooked; I wanted to know everything about these five guys.
"Through the years, their music became my entire life. I went to everything they had, concerts, charity events, plays, the wax museum; I even went to see Lance Bass get inducted into the Mississippi hall of fame. I recorded every time they were on TV, even if it was a commercial. I own every single CD, including any European CDs that they may have done. I have dolls, buttons, bobble heads, shirts, programs, gum, candy; if they were on it, I have it.
"My love for 'N Sync stretched way past my means of living at the time. I was a nanny and went over [on] my credit card a lot and could not afford it with just the one job. I had to get a second job just to pay off my credit card. It was all worth it, though; I have so many great memories of all the trips I went on and all the adventures I took because of them."
By Bridget Ginn
"Elijah Wood (insert longing sigh here). Even now when I hear his name, I am flooded with all the memories of my childhood celebrity crush. Don't get me wrong, I still love him; he's extremely talented. Emotions just run so much stronger when you're 12 years old. I saw 'The Adventures of Huck Finn' one Saturday night on television, and from then on, I was hooked. I began subscribing to as many fan magazines as I possibly could. That way, I would always be informed of a new movie coming out that Elijah was in. I can still remember how exciting it was when my mom took me to see 'Flipper' in the theater. An exact quote from my journal from May 18, 1996, reads, 'I just have that feeling that Elijah and I were meant to be together. I just have to be patient.'
"Young love is a powerful emotion; so powerful that I held a screaming tirade at my brother one afternoon years ago when I thought he was deliberately trying to ruin my Elijah posters hanging in my room. You see, they were starting to fade ... Later that night I realized I had yelled at my brother for no reason. Of course a poster is going to fade when you kiss it goodnight every night for months!
"During the years of my crush, like so many other avid fans, I decided to write Elijah a fan letter. A few weeks after the first letter was sent, I received an autographed black-and-white photo of Elijah. At first I was so ecstatic, but then the thoughts began to kick in of, 'Did he really sign this, or was it just pre-printed?' I was determined to find out. I searched through my stack of magazines until I found a picture of him that I thought was suitable for mailing. I cut it out and sent it with a new letter carefully writing on the back of the cut-out, 'Could you please sign this picture and send it back to me?' Would you believe I got it back? The exact photo I had mailed in was signed 'Keep smiling, Elijah Wood' written in gold ink."
Nobody Got Hurt
By B.E. Ashe
"My friend Nancy and I used to play [Bobby Sherman TV series] 'Here Come the Brides' at recess. We would make up story lines and act them out, sometimes getting into fights about who got to be with Jeremy (Bobby Sherman's character) and who would give the prissy little Candy (his girlfriend) what for. I'm chuckling out loud right now thinking about it. And of course Jeremy was such a sympathetic character with his painful shyness and his stuttering. The oldest brother, Jason, frightened me a bit. He was too strong and capable. But Jeremy was like me, a little bit of an outcast, shy, socially backward, often the brunt of jokes. Sitting here now, I don't remember if the character actually was that way in the series or not, but that is how I remember it. I related and I wanted to help, to be a part of it. So did Nancy, I think. Interestingly, the story line I remember most is someone, usually Jeremy, was hurt and we took care of that person. Both Nancy and I went on to become RNs.
"We couldn't really see all of this as fifth- and sixth-graders but I see it now clearly. That's the attraction of these young men to the younger girls. They're safe. They can try out more grown-up feelings on someone and know that they won't be hurt. Thank you, Bobby Sherman, for giving me a smile to say goodnight to every night and providing me with a fantasy world. And thank you, Tiger Beat, for realizing what was in the hearts of young girls. And thank you, Mom, for not having a fit about all of the scotch tape on the walls of my room."
Like Losing a Friend
By Karen Anderson
"In elementary school and junior high, I had terrible crushes on Jon and Joey from New Kids on the Block, but sadly I got no response when I worked up the courage to send a fan letter to Joey with a little beaded ring I made him to match his eyes. My stomach flipped every day for months when I'd rush to the mailbox after school each day to see if I'd gotten the reply I just knew would come. It never did, and the sight of an empty mailbox made my heart sink a little.
"In high school, when I was at my grunge-inspired dreariest, I wrote to Gavin Rossdale of Bush and told him much their music meant to me and how it got me through each day, how I skipped my junior prom to go see them live, and how one of their songs was the first thing I learned to play on guitar. I was sure he'd be touched by my bared soul but if he was, he neglected to let me know.
"My attention then turned to Jonathan Brandis from SeaQuest, and I again worked up the courage to send a letter to him through his fan club. Much to my screeching delight I got a reply in the self-addressed stamped envelope I included. I got a photocopied (but handwritten!) letter and a small autographed picture. I was beyond elated. My Jonathan Brandis crushed faded as I got older and he was doing fewer TV shows, but I always thought of him fondly. In 2003, I was at work when I read online that he had committed suicide. I was shocked and saddened; even though I never met him, I knew so much about him and it really felt like a childhood friend had died. I found solace in a Web board when I couldn't stop thinking of how troubled he must've been, especially when so many people in the world had loved him and still did. I still feel a little tug of sadness when I see the SeaQuest DVDs at the store or [when] one of his movies reruns on TV. He'll always have a special place in my heart; he will always be the only one who 'wrote' me back."
By Alison Birmingham
"When I was 15, I was at my neighbor's house watching MTV. She was bummed out because she would be turning 30 on Friday the 13th. She said she was going to be over the hill and out of luck. I asked her what she wanted for her birthday, and she pointed to the TV and exclaimed "That!" On the screen was Sting huskily crooning "Every Breath You Take."
So, ever eager to please, I sat down and wrote a letter to the address on the back of my "Synchronicity" record jacket explaining my friend's request. I reasoned that I knew getting the actual Sting was a lot to expect, but perhaps a phone call would be great. I did get a signed photo (I think it may have been stamped) from his publicist who said she would forward my letter to Sting. My neighbor never knew if he called because she went out for her birthday. This was before caller ID and message machines!"
by Emily Giles
"I know exactly how the writer, Alicia Coffman, felt about never getting an answer back.
My teen idol crush growing up was Macaulay Culkin. Just like Alicia, I would write letters to him all the time and never get one back. My dad would tease me when we would drive past a limo and say 'Hey, maybe that's Caulay McCulkin's (he never said his name correctly and still doesn't to this day) limo.' I would correct him ('It's Macaulay Culkin, Dad!') and then push my face into the window in hopes that it was Macaulay and he would see me looking and roll down the window.
"My last letter to Macaulay included a picture of me and my phone number. I remember telling him, 'Maybe you haven't wrote back because you just don't have the time, so here is my phone number, call me sometime!'
"He never called and I never wrote again."
Sounds of Silence
By Maria Jaramillo-Bean
"I wrote my first letter to Paul [Simon] with fear and trepidation. I wrote it over and over until I knew I had chosen every word perfectly. My hand shook when I put it in the mailbox. I knew that once I sent it, I could never take it back. I feared rejection terribly. After about two weeks, I began a vigil for the mail that drove my mom crazy.
"One wonderful day, when I had started to grow weary of my vigil, it showed up. It came on cream-colored paper with Paul's name embossed on the back of the envelope. My hand shook, my heart raced, I thought I was on my way to a personal relationship with the man I loved.
"The letter was typewritten (not Xeroxed!!) by Paul's assistant at the time, one Ian E. Hoblyn. He told me that Paul 'appreciated my kind sentiments' and regretted that he couldn't write me himself because he received so many letters and his schedule was so busy, but he wanted me to know that he was glad to hear from me. Ian signed it in ink himself. I could picture Paul personally dictating that letter to his assistant, wanting me to know that he cared for me.
"I had never been so happy, to date. I spent the last part of the summer writing Paul a song, a poem of my love for him, how he had changed my life and how I understood him. Once more, the fear and trepidation and harassment of the long-suffering mailman.
"After several weeks, again, when I was giving up all hope, I got it. Except this time it was a 7-by-11 manila envelope, in it a black-and-white glossy headshot of Paul, with another letter from Ian, again telling me how much Paul had 'appreciated my kind sentiments' and how sorry he was that his schedule didn't allow him to write back himself. And again, it was typewritten, with Ian's personal signature. It was the exact same letter Ian had written to me earlier, but he had the kindness to include that picture. I cried over that picture, and I never wrote Paul again.
"I don't remember now exactly what I wrote. But I still treasure the letters I received in return. I'm almost positive that Paul never saw my letters—I guess I'll never know for sure. I do know this for sure: Paul Simon had a very kind, sensitive assistant. Thank you, Ian E. Hoblyn, wherever you are, you who took the time to write the letters that made a young girl's life so much happier."