I went to a family reunion yesterday, and had a lot of fun. It was great to see so many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins again.
One of my cousins is a remarkable man who has already accomplished much in his life. He has served his hometown by filling a variety of vacated positions over the years; some were mailman, substitute teacher, volunteer at the senior citizen’s center, and DMV tag agent. He has been elected the town’s mayor multiple times, and he saved the city’s newspaper by running it for a few years until another stepped up to continue his work. Recently, he has returned to college to obtain a degree in nursing so he can continue to serve others in this capacity. My cousin is humble about his accomplishments, down-to-earth, funny, and kind.
I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him at length about a topic that has been on my mind frequently this year, and about which he has extensive knowledge: fandom. From about the age of five years old, my cousin has been a devoted fan of Dolly Parton. He has all her songs, lots of memorabilia, and he even started a local fan club for her in his younger years. He’s made trips to Dollywood, communicated with her, and seen her perform live. His passion for her has never waned, though he is calmer about it now than he was in his youth.
My cousin has always been a passionate person, unlike me. Growing up, I never understood his admiration and exuberance for Dolly Parton … a person he’d never met. It didn’t make sense to me. While I did enjoy watching entertainers, I never felt the need to know everything about them, want to go see them perform live, or think about them on a regular basis. The closest I ever got to this feeling was how I regarded our grandfather, whom I admired greatly.
This year, however, I developed an unexpected passion for one celebrity in particular. I’m fascinated by this person, and I don’t understand why. It actually bothers me that I cannot explain my newfound passion to myself using any logical terms. Why am I obsessing over a total stranger? (I won’t mention his name here, though, lest anyone decides to share this post with him. I have friends who would find that funny. You know who you are!) I’ve enjoyed watching other celebrities in the past, but never with this level of focus or interest. Sure, he’s talented, attractive, and kind. Does that really warrant this level of interest though?
A friend suggested I list the reasons why I like this celebrity, so my focus on him makes more sense (to myself and to others). Here’s the list I wrote:
- I love magicians, and he is one.
- I love reading his writings.
- He’s an avid reader.
- He plays the piano, and I’ve always wanted to learn piano.
- Like me, he enjoys classical music and science fiction.
- He makes weird jokes that no one gets. I do that.
- Like most of the men in my family, he’s tall, has dark hair, and loves to make others smile.
- He has a phenomenal voice, measured and resonant. (I have a thing for voices.)
Basically, he’s a handsome nerd, which is the best compliment I could ever give to a guy.*
I’ve talked to friends about these new feelings, and several have advised me that I have a “celebrity crush,” and it’s a totally normal experience to have. However, the term “crush” implies an intense desire to be with someone else, usually in a sexual way, which isn’t what I am feeling. I think fandom is a more appropriate term for this feeling. I think about this celebrity often, and those thoughts make me happy. I do worry that I think about this person too much, though, and I’ve wondered if this is healthy. Who better to ask for advice on this issue than my cousin?
His advice was simple: Enjoy it. He said having an obsession of this sort is a good thing. Over the years, my cousin has faced many difficult challenges. When life stressed him out, and he had nothing else that made him smile, throwing himself into his passion for a few hours became a wonderful remedy. He could read a book about Parton, listen to her music, or go through old clippings in his scrapbooks, and it would cheer him up.
My cousin assured me that my exuberance will fade over time, but the solace and joy I feel from being passionate about a celebrity will remain. Rather than trying to purge myself of these feelings, I should embrace them. I found his advice reassuring. I still do not fully understand why I feel this way, but perhaps that isn’t what’s important. I should just allow myself to be happy. I would like to meet him someday. Hopefully, if that day comes, I won’t faint dead away like a teenage fangirl (no guarantees).
I realize some fans obsess over a group of people, like a band or sports team, rather than an individual. To my readers: Do you have one celebrity that stands out in your mind as the person you think about, above all other entertainers? Has your passion for this person helped you in your life? Feel free to comment about groups also! What advice would you give regarding fandom?
* Note: By the term “nerd,” I mean the following definitions:
1. An expert in a particular field.
2. An intelligent person.
No other definitions for this word are intended.