I haven’t watched Beverly Hills, 90210 in twenty-odd years, and yet I’m feeling a profound loss today. And I’m not the only one. Every woman within a 10 year range of me is expressing shock and sadness over the death of Luke Perry. There have been so many YouTube clips shared, even of his death in 8 Seconds (very underappreciated film). There has been a fair amount of outrage that the Universe took him from us and yet Ian Ziering is free to make Sharknado Strikes Back and Eric Trump still walks the earth and breathes through his mouth.
I’ve often shared in the communal Facebook grieving when celebrities I grew up with died. But today was different. I read an article that referred to him as the iconic Gen X heartthrob. I didn’t think of it in that generational context, but it is true. I mean, the one thing that defines Gen X is consistently and universally being overlooked and underappreciated. Personally, I didn’t realize how much Dylan McKay defined my formative years before today. Until Luke Perry turned up in a Hallmark movie a couple years ago I had forgotten about him. It’s hard to cling to such happy memories when we are busy scraping up money to pay for prescriptions and selling vital organs to pay our student loans.
I think the appeal of Dylan McKay, aside from looking 10 years older than Tori Spelling and therefore, the original D.I.L.F., was the brooding. I could totally understand the appeal of James Dean in his day, and clearly the 90210 producers patterned the character after Dean. While I was mildly touched when Davy Jones & David Cassidy died, this one hit home. Dylan was there in my late high school/early college days, when he was my original imaginary boyfriend. Who else was there to choose—Ross from Friends? Dylan was totally my type. I mean physically, not because he was a trust fund baby. And the fact he chose the moody brunette over the bubbly blonde cheerleader made it all the better. Brenda truly understood why you brooded! Sculpting those sideburns was so stressful. We were soul mates, Dylan.
I was reminded today of some great memories surrounding that show. Such as going over to my college “friend with benefits” to watch the show as foreplay. Yes, I know most other women today are talking about bonding with their girls while watching it. “Peach Pit After Dark” had a whole different meaning for me. What can I say, I am a sucker for brooders with mischief in their eyes. It’s all Luke Perry’s fault.
In spite of all the sentiment, I think what hit home for my fellow Gen Xers is that Luke Perry was only 52. That’s 7 years older than me. I would have broken my “no dates over 50” rule for him. He was close enough to my age, and a little moisturizer with retinol could have taken a few years off him. No one our age should be dying from a stroke. Are we really at that age now?? When did that happen? (Oh yeah, when we were working 50 hours a week, taking care of kids AND parents, smashing the patriarchy, and barely finding 20 minutes a week to do something nice just for ourselves. Like getting our nails done, taking a weekend trip, or watching 90210 reruns.)
I feel like I should be toasting my childhood crush with a complicated single malt Scotch, but since this was unexpected I have to settle for a Blue Moon in a can. I’m toasting to the unfortunate reminder that life is incredibly short and tomorrow is not promised to any of us. And right now there are probably only a dozen men who will mourn my loss, not the millions of women who right now are devastated that our fantasy man from our youth is gone and damn, we took him for granted thinking he’d always be there, making egg nog and caroling in Hallmark Christmas movies for our middle aged fantasies for years to come. I need to get busy. And get busy…
I recently learned that I may soon have the rare opportunity of a “do-over”; to have a second chance some 8 years later to go after a crush I was too afraid to speak to back then. Someone today told me that I am incredibly lucky (knock on wood) if I get a second chance now that I am older, wiser, grayer, slightly less neurotic, and definitely less patient to wait for a guy to make the first move. I need to know I took the chance when opportunity knocked again, and not silently stare at my Ring app until it is too late. Cue Robin Williams in “Dead Poets Society”: Seize the Day, my friends.