Even after getting married and watching every romantic Hallmark movie ever made, I still can't shake the idea that Valentine's Day is just a holiday for elementary school children to exchange heart-shaped things and practice their diorama-making skills (which I hear a lot of elementary schools are focusing in on now, as the job market today is bursting with opportunities for young people with a knack for folding construction paper and an eye for glitter). So because of this, as I have been dwelling on Valentine's Days of yore, I thought it would be fun to share some of the early "crushes" I had while of elementary school age. So before anyone can convince me that this might not be the best idea, let's just jump right in with the best of them all, shall we?
1. Brian Littrell from The Backstreet Boys
Yeah. This was a thing. I have a distinct memory (when I was like, five?) of sitting on the arm of our upstairs couch watching a Backstreet Boys/Shania Twain concert and thinking both, "Man, I am so cool," and "Brian is awesome." (Also, I just looked this up to see if this concert actually happened and I'm not just making it up, and it totally happened—I didn't realize this experience was formative enough for me to remember it still, but I guess it was, and I don't know how I feel about that). In my mind, I was Shania Twain, and Brian was singing to me. All I needed was a sparkly pastel 90s dress with batwing arms, and he'd be mine. Why Brian when there were four other decent choices among his backstreet compatriots? Probably because he got all the main singing parts. And also because AJ was the "bad boy", Nick had an unsettling nasally voice (I was an excellent judge of talent at a young age), Kevin's tall, gangly frame was a little disconcerting to me, and I could never remember that Howie D was actually there in the background. Other pertinent questions this story raises: Why was I watching this? Did I not have toys? And had my parents really given up on me that early? But yeah. Brian. I liked me some Brian—almost as much as my daily viewings of PB and J Otter and Dragon Tales.
2. Ling in Mulan
Most girls my age watching Mulan probably went for the leading man in the movie, or Donny Osmond's voice coming out of the leading man, but me? I liked Ling. You might wonder why, of all the brave, able-bodied cartoon Asian men in this movie to choose from, I chose Ling. Even I, sitting here all these years later, am wondering why as well. But somehow, even with his squeaky voice, stick-like proportions, and overall loserly aura, I still thought Ling was pretty cool. Maybe it was because there was some sweetness behind his lame exterior, maybe it was because Yao had anger issues and Chien Po was a little too soft for me, maybe it was because he started off the song where all the men sing about girls and I was like HEY. I AM A GIRL. HE IS SINGING TO ME. But either way, he was right—I did love a man in armor.
3. Matthew Broderick's singing voice in Lion King
This is probably the weirdest thing on this list, but yes—Matthew Broderick's singing voice as the grown-up Simba. I liked it. (But right after writing the title to this I looked this up to see if it really was Matthew Broderick singing in the movie, and it wasn't, so...nevermind. But I'm not going to change it because up until this moment I thought it was Matthew Broderick and if there's anything I'm a stickler for, it's authenticity). I don't really have much else to say about this, besides that I am starting to regret writing this post.
4. Prince Christopher in Rodger & Hammerstein's Cinderella (1997)
It might have been impossible to think that Prince Christopher would ever return my feelings, but as Whitney Houston would remind me every time I put the recording of this movie into the VCR growing up, it was possible. He was just so charming, so princely, so without any type of flaw beyond not being able to run faster than a one-shoed Brandy, and on top of that he could SING. Also, while I'm here, can I just say that this movie was EVERYTHING? (And not only because Jason Alexander was in it. But that was mostly why.) If everyone is bringing back the 90s with velvet and chokers and baggy denim things, then it only follows that knowledge of this movie and its dashing Filipino prince should come back too. SPREAD AWARENESS.
5. Orlando Bloom
With the Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean, I was introduced to both blonde Orlando Bloom and dark-haired Orlando Bloom at a young age. Once I realized that he was the same person, I decided that this person named after a city in Florida was a pretty cool dude (unlike his brother Tallahassee). So cool, in fact, that I ordered his biography off of a Scholastic book order in 3rd grade (I'm not kidding). While everyone else in my class was reading Babysitter's Club books and Because of Winn-Dixie in our silent reading time, I was sitting back in my chair, reading about The Bloom. The only thing I can remember from this book is that it talked about him having dyslexia, but I'm sure it was a very informative and page-turning read in other respects—3rd grade Camryn wouldn't indulge in frivolous fiction. But man—with his unflinching devotion to Elizabeth, his bravery in the face of weird CGI skeletons, and the knowledge that if I ever needed a blacksmith, he had the ability to make a tang nearly the full width of a blade (which I just looked up to finally understand what that means), I thought I was set.
And with that, we are most definitely going to end this list at 5.
*runs away in shame*
*runs away in shame*