Thinking about puppy love and school crushes led me to reflect on falling for men on the big screen. My two favorite were and remain Paul Newman and Denzel Washington. I fell for Paul in high school. I didn’t fall for Denzel until, as a single mother, I began to watch the television series “St. Elsewhere.” I never fantasized about singers while my friends screamed for Elvis and decorated their rooms with his posters. Even the Beatles failed to engage my interest, though, when pushed, I would say I liked John–the moody one–the best. My sister had a monumental crush on Paul(McCartney, not Newman!)But oh those men on those gigantic movie screens!(I quickly found Denzel in the movies. The TV Denzel was just too small to really captivate me.)
I was fond of joking that I would watch either man in an advertisement for rutabagas, so enamored I was by each. Paul lived in Connecticut between our house and New York City. Something about his actual proximity to me in Connecticut fed my secret life. When I would drive through Westport on my way to the City, I would always give him a shout out. Even now that he is gone I toot and say hello to his memory as I drive by.
In 1959, my parents went to Hawaii on a Matson Line ship courtesy of the company since my father did legal work for them. The highlight of the trip for my mother was not the beach, not the sun, not the exotic volcano. She was beyond excited by spotting William Holden(her screen love) on the beach at Waikiki. She didn’t need to talk to him; it was enough to be actually sharing the same stretch of sand.
I have no idea if young girls still fall for movie stars. I have no idea of boys of my generation fell for movie stars. All I know for sure is that when either Paul or Denzel leaned in for a kiss, it was me he was aiming for!