When Batman & Robin came out, I was young enough to think it was good, which also means I was of the age to think Alicia Silverstone nailed the role of Batgirl. Meaning—you’ve probably guessed it—I was absolutely and immutably in love with Alicia Silverstone.
Sure, it was a little one sided, but we were in love.
I convinced my mom to take me to our local Safeway to buy a white posterboard. A blank canvas I could put up in my room as a declaration for the way I felt about my new girl. Then, when everyone else watched TV that night, I snuck into my sister’s room and stole her Teen Vogue—or Cosmo Girl, or Teen-Whatever-Magazine-Had-Alicia-Silverstone-On-The-Cover. My thought process was sometimes you have to be a little bad to show how much you cared about someone.
Excess Baggage had just come out and Alicia Silverstone talked about her career. But if we’re being honest—and that’s exactly what we’re doing here—my preteen brain didn’t think to read the interview. The only thing that dawned on me to do was pull out my scissors and begin cutting out the glossy photographs of her. I loved the way she made me feel, and that started with how she looked.
My eyes made contact with hers and I knew she got it. She understood all of it. She got me on a base, human level. She understood exactly how I felt, and like a reflection, I knew how she felt too.
I should have bought a smaller posterboard. There was a lot of white space between the four photos I had thieved. The sparse collage never made it onto my wall because I was too embarrassed to have taken an entire afternoon to make it.
This is one of the first times I encountered the truth that love shouldn’t have to be an embarrassment. Even then, the posterboard sat, leaning against my wall. It felt less like a real relationship and more like idol worship. That’s not a successful recipe for love.
She didn’t know I existed, and I’d made a shrine of her. I didn’t even bother to read the goddamn interview. Looking back on it, this is what I should have been most embarrassed about. That’s really the lesson I should have taken away from all this.
Naturally, we broke up.
I didn’t know anything about Alicia Silverstone except for what she looked like, and she didn’t know anything about me, including what I looked like.
This was not the love I dreamed about late into the night.
Sure, she was my first love—or lust, without the sexual stuff. That’s undeniable. And at this point, I realize celebrity crushes are silly. I do, I know this now. But in the throes of it, I also know it feels a whole hell of a lot like the real thing.
Joseph Edwin Haeger is the author of the experimental memoir, Learn to Swim (University of Hell Press, 2015). His writing has appeared at Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Drunk Monkeys, HAD, and others. As a litmus test, he likes to tell people his favorite movie is Face/Off, but a part of him is afraid that it’s true. He lives in the PNW.