When my friends and I were in the ninth grade, the bass player for the band Duran Duran announced plans to get married. There was no piece of news more devastating to us, as we considered ourselves to be Duran Duran’s future wives. We felt absolute pity for Shalar, who had claimed the bass player as her own; she sat behind me in our American Studies class, and elaborately doodled a certain expletive on her desktop that morning. (She doodled it in pencil, and erased it later; we were good kids.)
Each of us had a favorite in Duran Duran, although "favorite" was just a sane way of describing our true designation for each one: Future Spouse. We fully believed that small-town Iowa girls like us had a shot with these guys; they were sort of young, and single, and really, if you wish hard enough for something, you’ll get it, right? (Our theory was both proven and blown later when Duran Duran’s keyboardist married a woman from Des Moines.)
My guy was the drummer, Roger; I liked him because he was quiet, with non-threatening good looks — and no one else had picked him. By that age I already had the not-so-vague and terrifying idea that I was a lesbian, so I wasn’t always drawn to the conventional lust objects favored by my peers.
My decision to get on the Duran Duran bandwagon came late, in part delayed by my affinity for a few British rock stars who were then in their 40s. As loyal as I was to the music of these fellows, they were somewhat lacking as Future Spouse material because they were about 30 years older than I was, and in many cases, they were already married, which, I somehow concluded, hurt my chances.
So for show, around my friends, I concentrated my energy on someday marrying Roger. But deep in my heart — they all knew it, too — I wanted to marry Paul McCartney.
He was so dreamy. He already had crow’s feet and graying hair, and I loved him. He had married his first wife, Linda, before I was born, and I hated her. I would lie awake at night wondering why I hadn’t been born just a few decades earlier, maybe in another country, and why why why when I looked at photos of Paul, I saw her standing there.
At some point I read an interview profiling Linda in one of the ladies’ magazines and was both fascinated and disgusted by how absolutely human she was. I swallowed hard and admitted to myself that I admired this woman, and she moved unceremoniously off my list of foes. I still wanted to marry Paul, but conceded that he was in a happy marriage. And anyway, there was that lesbian thing nagging ever more loudly in the back of my head (although I never wanted to marry Linda).
After I left Paul and Linda to their happy marriage, the lesbian thing and I made peace, and I started wondering whether Jodie Foster might be looking for a wife. At some point in college, I stopped obsessing about buying all of Paul’s albums and clipping every single picture of him I saw. I toned it down, because lesbians aren’t supposed to have crushes on older male British rock stars.
My friends — the Futures Wives Club from high school and the people I’m close to now — know the truth, just as it was clear back then that my love for Roger was a sham. I still want to marry Paul. Of course I do! I’m married, as far as the law will let me be, and I’m perfectly happy. Would I really leave my life behind for a trip down the aisle with Sir Paul McCartney? Probably not. But maybe. No! But…well, luckily, he hasn’t asked.
Instead, for anyone who has missed the story of the year, on June 11 he married a woman around my age whose teenage prospects for marrying Paul McCartney must have looked a lot like mine did. So what do I take from this? Did I miss my chance? Should I have focused on land mine activism instead of journalism, moved to London, kept pretending to be straight? What’s a starstruck girl to do?
I’m too old to doodle expletives on my desk. I suppose I could set my mind to hating the new Mrs. McCartney, but I feel too old for that, too. I’d only find out later that she was disgustingly human. And besides, my friends may know that deep in my heart I still want to marry Paul McCartney, but — just like in 1984 — I’m pretty sure they still want me to pretend I don’t.