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Crushes on Strangers

The Talk Show Host

The Talk Show Host
Credit: Ángel Raúl Ravelo Rodríguez

Back in college, I had a honking crush on this guy who hosted a syndicated talk show.

He was a small, skinny guy—dark hair, nice smile, wore those black jeans and mock turtlenecks we all put our faith in during the mid-’90s. I’m not even sure what drew me to him in the first place, except his interviews with celebrities were disarming and hilariously self-deprecating. I taped his show every night.

“Who is this guy again?” a friend would say, flopping down in a beanbag chair as I shushed everyone in the apartment and flicked on the TV at 10 p.m.

“This is my future husband,” I explained. That was the power he had over me—not just that I was attracted to him, but that I felt understood by him, comforted by him.

It’s weird to contemplate what draws you to certain celebrities. It isn’t merely their attractiveness, or else we’d all be crushed out on Brad Pitt (has anyone ever had a crush on Brad Pitt?). Instead, I think they must speak to some familiar love—a high school boyfriend who made you laugh so hard you blew Coke out your nose, the sad-eyed boy with twirly hair who sat in the back row of algebra and whispered sly sarcasms in your ear. Your Dad, your brother, the people whose characteristics form the blueprint of the men you fall in love with.

Six months after I discovered this guy’s show, it was cancelled. I felt weirdly bereft. What would happen now? Would I ever see him again?

My college roommate Tara likes to remind me of all this whenever we get together. She says, “You were so right about Jon Stewart.”

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TMN Contributing Writer Sarah Hepola is the Life editor at Salon. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Nerve, and on NPR. She lives in Texas with a sweet orange cat who is not fat, he’s just big-boned. If you just read her story about Joseph Gordon-Levitt, she’d like to point that it is fiction. More by Sarah Hepola

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