We had been studying the history of American immigration when people were flocking to the United States en mass to fulfill their dreams of freedom and prosperity.
On a piece of poster board we were supposed to put pictures, drawings, magazine cut-outs, or whatever images represented what “The American Dream” meant to us personally.
In the center of my poster I glued an 8×10 glossy of heartthrob Jack Wagner.
At that time Jack was a star on General Hospital as “Frisco,” the WSB agent – whatever that is.
I thought he was a total fox and he was my American Dreamboat.
Around his picture were images I had cut out from magazines that represented the life we would share together: a mansion with a pool surrounded by palm trees, a red Pontiac Trans Am with a sun roof, exotic vacation spots we would frequent together, pizza, Oreo shakes, and an image of Jane Fonda in her leotard and legwarmers, but I had cut off her head and replaced it with my head.
I got a B on the assignment.
Totally ripped off, I thought.
But thinking back, it was a pretty generous grade considering the shallow content. Mr. D was a great teacher and well aware he was spending his days fruitlessly trying to penetrate meaningful thoughts into half-developed pubescent brains.
The memory of this assignment and my teenage crush on Jack Wagner came flooding back as I flipped on the TV last week to watch the premier of Dancing With the Stars, Season 14.
There he was!
My teenage dream!
He was old.
He danced kind of clunky.
I didn’t know if I wanted to see this.
I wanted to remember Jack singing his hit single All I Need on Solid Gold sporting a feathered mullet and acid wash jeans, not sashaying around the DWTS dance floor in a turquoise jacket and yellow bow tie.
Over the years I had lost track of Jack. A Justin Bateman crush took over so I didn’t follow Jack to Melrose Place. But in my mind he had stayed just the way he was on my poster, so seeing him like this took me off guard at first.
Actually, Jack has aged very well. Though his face does look suspiciously similar to his longtime girlfriend’s, Heather Locklear. As I watched him dance out of his comfort zone and challenge himself with something totally different at this time in his life and career, a few teenage butterflies fluttered in my stomach. Vulnerability is a very endearing and attractive quality in a man.
Yes, we’ve both grown up a lot.
I think Jack is back, and better than ever.
As for me, I’m living a life far from the one on my poster, but it truly is an American Dream. I have a family, a home of my own on a beautiful piece of land, an education, a plum job, and the freedom to say whatever the heck I want on the internet.
When I was a kid, I didn’t know jack about what a meaningful life was. If I were to make an American Dream poster now it would be very different.
It would include a picture of Mark Ballas and a plug for an appearance on Dancing With the Stars.