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Fame: A Romance, with Flung Tampons

[EDIT: I'm taking this down, because people started to play guessing games as to the identity of the person I wrote about, and in some (deleted!) comments, they got it right. I know, I know: barn door = closing, cattle = out, etc. All I can say is that I forget how many people read this blog sometimes. And, honestly, I wanted this to be a story primarily about me, and about having a crush on this one guy in high school, rather than a story about this one guy. So, I'm taking it down, because the last thing I want is for this blog post to infringe upon his privacy. Or, to be entirely honest, on my privacy. Sorry!]

25 Comments

  1. Chally wrote:

    This is a really good post and I’m glad you wrote it. I’m going to have to come back to it and think and think.

    Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Permalink
  2. Irised wrote:

    That was really sweet. And I agree it is a very good post. Also, I laughed like hell at the ending.

    Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Permalink
  3. Irised wrote:

    Also now I am visualising all the stars in the skies as tampons.

    Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Permalink
  4. Taybeh Chaser wrote:

    Great, heartfelt post. I too will have to reread it–and maybe come up with something more interesting to say, when it isn’t almost 3am.

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 12:51 am | Permalink
  5. Gnatalby wrote:

    Such a sweet post.

    I get the impression you’re much nicer than you sometimes say you are.

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 1:01 am | Permalink
  6. Miss Minx wrote:

    I very much enjoyed your story – it reminded me of growing up in a small town with a huge community theatre thing going on.

    We had three “Steves,” who were all pegged to go on and do Great Things. Years later, I married one, the only one who was more like, “I don’t have the strength or energy to play this fame game, so I’ll just get a real job and move on.”

    Anyway, we were home for the holidays, and saw this poster for a Q and A session with one of the other Steves, more or less exactly the kind of thing presented in your Steve’s newspaper article – this trajectory of how this person was working bit parts in Broadway shows, but HEY! BROADWAY! We laughed ourselves sick at the time, and now, after reading this, it really wasn’t that funny.

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 7:49 am | Permalink
  7. V. wrote:

    I also knew several Steves. The one I thought would be the Broadway star is now a dermatologist. Which… is a form of success! I don’t know whether he sings to his patients as he inspects their moles.

    I grew up in a big town, though: there were many Steves of many kinds, rather than one in a generation. (And I grew up in a social class that had resources for every Steve as well as most of the Dicks.) It adulterated the adulation by a lot, the diffusion of Steve-ness among the student body. I presume it also adulterated the bitterness, because I didn’t know anybody who hated a Steve solely on basis of being Steve.

    Anyway, when the girl two years behind me was on a doink-doink show at age 18, my mother called me up and we cheered on her (small) role without irony. She’s pretty successful now, famous but not superstar famous. But we weren’t the little people who had been allowed to bask in her glow; we were just people who had known her a little bit.

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 8:31 am | Permalink
  8. Sarah TX wrote:

    Wow, really powerful stuff. I totally had flashbacks to that horrible, neurotic, anxious feeling that accompanied both high school crushes and high school jealousies. And now, years later, I find these people on Facebook and those who were promised the moon didn’t get it, and those who are working hard are maybe getting somewhere, and maybe they aren’t.

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 9:03 am | Permalink
  9. Bee wrote:

    On this note, I’m thinking about valued success and our reactions to it. As a feminist lady, I have to be really careful not to get my own feelings of WTF LIFE= HARD FOR ME tied up in other people’s lives.

    One of the things about living in a city very near my fancy-pants home town is that sometimes I read about the successes of my former classmates in the paper.

    I have been having trouble with knee-jerk irateness about some of these successes, esp. since I have been working my ass off to start a career that is very hard, completely sans- mixed drinks and sparkles, and is FUCKING AWESOME. When I read about my high school classmates, it becomes super easy to devalue their work as “lame,” “soo gendered,” “based entirely on family connections, wtf,” and “really? that’s a success? FUCK YOU SO MUCH CHICAGO TRIB. If you published more about awesome shit like the shit that I do I would have been able to learn about it so much sooner than I did, thus would have been a happier kid. PLUS there wouldn’t be a big silence at mingly cocktail parties after I explain what I do, because people would have heard of it.”

    Of course, this has noting to do with So and So’s big decorating job, Whatsherface’s work at her dad’s corporation. Or even Dude’s choice to get hitched and not work at all. It is easy I guess to be unfair to individuals rather than productive. Or at least productively frustrated at the damn anti intellectual wave in US public culture.

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 9:53 am | Permalink
  10. Sandy wrote:

    This is a great entry.

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 10:36 am | Permalink
  11. Laura wrote:

    I knew two Steves. These Steves were best friend, and routinely teamed up to form a two-headed monster of Look, They’re Better Than You.

    I hated these Steves with every fibre of my being in high school. It wasn’t because they had talent and I didn’t think I did; it wasn’t because I thought that they were destined for great things and I wasn’t. It was that I KNEW I was every bit as talented as them, but I (a girl from a poor family) had to work twice as hard to get even one word of praise than they (boys from upper-middle-class families) had to work to get paragraphs-long, glowing reviews in the local paper.

    And I DID work twice as hard as they did. I mean, without getting into specifics, I grew up a lot faster than most teenagers did and made a lot of sacrifices that most teenagers in my town did not have to make. I did this without the support network that most teenagers in my town had. And I looked up at the Steves in all their glory, and I was painfully aware of how very, very EASY it was for them, with their well-off, functional families, their straight white maleness. How the things that I saw as barriers to my success didn’t even really exist in their lives, and how they didn’t even BELIEVE that such things could exist for other people, and so while I worked my ass off to be considered their equal, every time they looked at me, their expressions screamed “INFERIOR”.

    I think a large part of how affecting it was for me was the fact that I have always been depressive, and so the dynamic just reinforced my already MASSIVE, MASSIVE self-esteem issues. But it was a lot easier for me to focus my hate on the Steves than it was to focus my hate on the social mores that “created” the Steves, so to speak. They were just kids, like I was; they were told constantly that they were Big Fucking Deals and that the world would embrace them. I don’t know exactly what their lives were like after high school – I know one of them does improv workshops in the city where I lived for several years following high school, because while I was living there, I would occasionally run into him in the theatre district-y area. It was always a little awkward – mostly because he’d always make a point of noticing and saying hi to ME before I noticed and said hi to him, and I’d be like, “What? Why are you saying hi to me? Why do you even remember me? Go away.” It would ALMOST have been like a reversal of our high school roles, except that I was still kind of terrified and embarrassed around him. Even though apparently he turned out to be an okay guy. Maybe I was a little worried that I hadn’t turned out to be an okay girl.

    I considered at one point acting like I didn’t remember him, and telling him that I’d been in a car accident shortly after graduation, and had metal plates in my head or something so I didn’t remember anything about high school at all. I never went through with it, though, and eventually I moved halfway across the continent, which solved the problem nicely.

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Permalink
  12. Elizabeth wrote:

    I was Steve in high school–experiencing success in the same ways Steve is experiencing it now in NYC: sporadic, forgotten, aching…there are other words I could use, of course. My hometown has put me on newspaper front page’s and magazine covers and it works: it makes me feel important when I go home. At least important enough to not feel like I let down the whole town and their accompanying expectations by not being ‘famous’ yet. I’ve thought about the points made in this story so many times. Some people have told me success in the entertainment business is all about luck. Some have cited beauty, others money, and the optimists tell me it’s hard work. What I’ve learned, if anything, is that it’s all of these things and more. It’s not to be used as a marker for success or talent, and yet it is. I wish more people were out there doing what you just did: acknowledging the fire required to be a star at all–regardless of whether or not you’re the Sun.

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink
  13. Farore wrote:

    I knew a Steve or two in high school, but I never hated them; I was just happy to get to interact with them and maybe soak up a bit of their genius. One of them is an indie musician, now, with a bit of renown on our hometown track (and my hometown is Vancouver, Canada, so that’s maybe a bit more renown than most hometowns can offer), and I think the other went the ‘I just want a normal life’ route and settled down and had 2.5 kids yadda yadda yadda.

    The worst people, for me, are the people who THINK they are a Steve, but are not. There was this girl I went to high school with, a year above me, and we were both pretty involved in the drama program. She was CONVINCED that she would get the starring role in our big musical production (Madame Librarian, in this case), but she wound up with a more minor role (Ye Gods!) which she did not perform particularly well (as I was Gracie in the A cast, I had to spend a lot of time rehearsing with her. It was very frustrating). She was quite clearly furious and just as clearly felt that she was the best actor in the group. Some of the teachers more vulnerable to obsequience thought she had Steve potential, but most teachers spent a lot of time telling her to be quiet and stop showboating. One of the people who still lives in Vancouver dropped me a line a year or two ago saying they’d run into her, and she had asked after me (which baffled me as she had always hated me), and after being told I was a freelance artist living across the continent with my husband, she apparently got visibly angry and changed the subject forcefully. /:|

    Anyway, to cut my ramble short before it eats the whole page, this post is awesome. And I also suspect that you are nicer than you think/say you are :P

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Permalink
  14. Sady wrote:

    @ELIZABEEEEEEEETTTTTHHHHH: Your comment excites and intrigues me. Mostly because I HAVE NOT SEEN YOU IN A MILLION YEARS AND STILL HAVE YOUR CHRISTMAS PRESENT OH MY GOODNESS. Let us make time to speak in non-blog-comment format this week, potentially with drinks involved.

    And also, I think of you as very successful, mostly because I don’t think your goal is to be Ke$ha or Katy Perry or whatever you would have to be broken down and resculpted into in order to be the Biggest Pop Star In America This Month; I think your goal is to maintain creative control and do interesting work, which is what you do. I think you and I have pretty similar goals, on that end; we know that what we do is its own thing, we both love doing what we do, and we both respect the work and try to maintain its integrity while consistently learning and improving our craft, instead of trying to make it into whatever the latest thing is supposed to be and damn the consequences. I mean, you’ve told me that you’ve looked at contracts that would make you into “the poor man’s Evanescence,” a few years ago (and that is one REALLY poor man we are talking about); nowadays, you could very plausibly do the Katy Perry thing and be some weird plasticky version of “bad girl” that plays to twelve-year-olds on the Warped Tour. Instead, you’re writing honestly, and everything you put out has your stamp on it. I mean, shoot, you could do well if you decided not to play guitar, and instead were singing through a permanent vocoder and having duets with Flo Rida: you’re pretty, you’re charismatic, that’s a road that’s open to you. I could probably do well, dropping the lady-issues ball and writing about how fun it is to get drunk and kiss boys and OMG how do you handle hookups when you are starting to get FEELINGS?!?! Maybe I should ask a dude about this since they are all smarter than me! Or I could just be filing down my politics to make them less confrontational and more palatable, or doing some “postfeminist” thing where I do nothing but poop on other women in print and get all Roiphe about how the dudes are scared to express their manly virility now because feminists have ruined everything. It would be staggeringly dishonest, but it would also be about 200x more marketable than my best work. But I think you and I both know that whatever it is you’re doing, it’s going to blow red-hot Habanero-flavored chunks unless you’re putting your best into it, even if “best” is weird or unusual or not fashionable this week. Which is why I respect you, and – as mentioned – think you ARE a success.

    @Gnatalby & Farore: NICE? WHO HAS SPOKEN THIS UNCONSCIONABLE LIE ABOUT MY PERSON? Apologize, or you shall know my wrath!

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink
  15. Jennifer wrote:

    We had a Michael in our high school, the musical star of the school. Violin genius. Like Steve, we had no doubts that someday he would be big, famous stuff.

    But…have never heard from him again. And his first name plus last name are so generic that you can’t really google him to find out.

    I wonder what happened?

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink
  16. Irised wrote:

    I think you’re nice too :D

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Permalink
  17. Luna wrote:

    This reminds me of a problem I always had with the phrase ‘the world is your oyster.’ People, I thought, should not be trying to make the world their oyster, but rather to make the oyster their world.

    I write. A lot. I send a lot of writing out to publications, but more importantly, I make zines and self-publish my work. I’m only 20, and very aware that I’m not about to suddenly morph into Zadie Smith overnight. So for now, instead of trying to be the Zadie Smith of The World, I’m aiming for the Zadie Smith of Melbourne’s zine culture. Which will satisfy me for now.

    I really hope this doesn’t sound creepy and toadying. But I think in a similar but, obviously, far more talented way, you are kind of the Zadie Smith, or the rock star, or the STEVE of feminist blogging. People I know well and people I have only just met have recognised your name, have read your work. I look forward to reading the newest Tiger Beatdown post as fans look forward to hearing the newest White Stripes single. If friends ever ask me to recommend a feminist writer, or if one of them is just starting to become interested in The Ladybusiness, I direct them to Tiger Beatdown. That’s got to be a sign that you’ve graduated from Level SCOTT to Level…I don’t know. Level Talented Writer with a Growing, Loyal Following in the Fem-Blogosphere, maybe.

    This is a weirdly personal thing to say to a stranger, but I’m always so glad to see your writing appear in more publications and receive ever more well-deserved praise. The world of feminist blogging may be smaller than that of feminist writing, of Writing in general, but it’s an influential and increasingly relevant one, and I feel I can say with confidence that it’s your oyster.

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Permalink
  18. Sady wrote:

    @Luna: Whoa, that is totally sweet! In, like, the “nice and heartwarming to behold with my eyeballs” way, not the Bill and Ted “sweeeeeet” way. And also not creepy at all. Thank you, lady!

    Friday, January 15, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Permalink
  19. I enjoyed this story. I really did.

    Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 12:20 am | Permalink
  20. Maura wrote:

    I was involved with a Steve for about a year and a half. But he was what becomes of a Steve after the dream doesn’t work out, because he was too busy drinking and getting high and having sex with every woman in sight and doing dumbass stuff that gets him arrested a couple times a year and basking in the glow of a years-long starring role in Boston dinner theater and thinking that the big jobs would just come to him. That Steve has a lot of darkness in his heart. The last time I talked to him, he was at home with his stepchildren, drinking martinis at 1:00 in the afternoon.

    But I know another Steve (one who’s so talented, seeing him on stage is a revelation) who came back home after a few years, because both Hollywood and New York were too screwed up for him. He does great local theater work, works with one of the area high school drama clubs, and lives a happy live.

    Good Old Steve. He can go either way, you know?

    Also, Sady, everything Luna said about you? Ditto.

    Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 11:10 am | Permalink
  21. Eileen wrote:

    The Steve of my high school may finally be nominated for an Oscar this year, over twenty years after our graduation.

    Luckily he was always really nice and was liked not just for his talent, but because of how well he treated people. So I think everyone who remembers him is really just happy for him right now.

    Good post.

    Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Permalink
  22. Nomie wrote:

    OH, THE STEVES. We had a couple of them that were also biffles. One of them was the object of my huge and embarrassing crush, though I never threw tampons and we ended up sort of friends by graduation. I figured out that I had talent but not enough; that I could be part of the choir and carry the whole damn second soprano section because I could harmonize without losing track of our part but not be a soloist, that I could be in the chorus of the school musicals but not a lead, that I could be a lead in the one-acts and the student-written plays that were put on by the theater club. And that was okay. But I was still deeply envious in some ways. OH HIGH SCHOOL, HOW I DON’T MISS YOU.

    The Steve that I crushed on appears to be doing the struggling-actor thing in New York and doesn’t have much of an online presence. The other one – hilariously, we went to the same college and he dated my freshman-year roommate, awkward – just landed a five-second wordless role on a daytime soap. And, you know, good on him. I hope he has enough success to keep the roof over his head, even if his Steve-dreams are never fulfilled.

    Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Permalink
  23. CO-HIOAN wrote:

    Oh my god, Westerville North! I went to Thomas Worthington! And until recently I even lived in NYC! We’re practically neighbors!

    Re: Steves, I am currently in the music department at Ohio State, which has plenty of Steve-types, and all I can say is, Steve-dom messes with your head. Hopefully these people get some perspective before they hit the real world, or it’s gonna be rough. I kind of feel bad for them.

    Sunday, January 17, 2010 at 9:53 am | Permalink
  24. Robin wrote:

    Oh my god…I knew Steve. Not a random, Steve-like person, but this Steve, the one that I am 99.99999% sure you’re talking about. If I’m right, and I think I am (thanks IMDB!), Steve was in the very first community theatre play I did when I was 10.

    The world is ridiculously small sometimes.

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Permalink
  25. Brennan wrote:

    I knew a Steve. Our Steve had a very similar high school career, but his peaked at the age of 18 (or so). He was cast as an extra in a major TV show and appeared as a blurred face in the crowd. Everyone back home was sure that this was the start of something big.

    Unfortunately, when he got to college (on an acting scholarship) he hit the party scene, dropped out by 19, and was in rehab by 20. At 24 he seems to have his life back in order; he’s teaching acting and running lights for a dinner theater. I get the sense that he couldn’t handle realizing that he wasn’t as Talented as everyone had always told him he was.

    Sunday, January 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ian Miles, Alex Raymond. Alex Raymond said: This post is just… lovely http://bit.ly/7CDKEn [...]

  2. Linksplosion! Personal stories edition « Zero at the Bone on Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    [...] Fame: A Romance, with Flung Tampons by Sady at Tiger Beatdown. Usually I mull over posts for a time – months sometimes – before linksploding them, and I’m not sure what what this post means to me yet, but I like it and think you should get it while it’s fresh. One of the things I am doing, lately, is rooting through the old arsenal, figuring out which stories I have to tell you and which you would actually like to hear. The stories I am most personally invested in, it turns out, are not always the ones that invite your caring! But here is one that I must share, for whatever reason, and it is the story of the Very First Boy I Ever Had A Real Crush On. His name was Steve, and he fully intended to be famous. [...]