Obsessive Fandom

I think Jane’s 1D experience deserves a bit more attention than I gave it in my nutshell post last week. {For you less experienced and less knowledgeable types, 1D is short for One Direction.}

There are two reasons for this. The first is that there’s a level of humor in what happened that was glossed over in last week’s post. The second is that there’s a lesson for all of us in it, I think. So let’s get to it.

I learned the earth-shattering-if-you-are-of-a-certain-age-and-female news via a quick glance at Google News around 1:00 last Wednesday afternoon. Having recently been the person to break the news to her  of his departure from their tour, I wanted a similar position of honor this time around.

I took out my phone and shot her a quick text.

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And then I immediately put my phone away. So I missed her desperate attempts to interact with me on the subject:

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As you can see, I wasn’t the first person. No, that honor goes to some girl at school. From what I’ve been able to tell, Jane’s practically the only One Directioner in her school so there wasn’t a loud wailing and gnashing of teeth as has been reported from other locations.

Jane confidently corrected the girl that he was only taking a break from the tour. The friend insisted he had quit the band. Jane checked Twitter. Jane excused herself to the bathroom. Jane cried. Jane texted her Daddy:

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He responded (to her surprise) that he was on his way, no questions asked. It was sometime in here that I sent my text. My husband, not prone to just pick the kids up willy-nilly from school did so without question this time for two reasons. First, she hadn’t been feeling well that morning. Second, he trusted her good judgment to not request removal from school unless it was important.

She waited in silence as he signed her out. He could tell she was very upset about something. And then they left the building. As they walked down the steps toward the road, he asked, “So. What’s going on?”

She took a deep breath and then croaked, “Zain* left. He left One Direction.”

He stopped walking. He stepped away from her to get a clearer look. “Are you being serious right now?”

And, no, he wasn’t expressing shock that Zain had made that decision. All parents everywhere should be laughing at this scene. Of this father so blindsided by his irrational teenaged daughter. She burst into tears and just nodded.

“Please, Daddy, please… can we just go? Please don’t make me go back in there. Can we please just go home?”

“I hope you know this is never gonna happen again.”

“I know, Daddy.”

And with that, they left. She didn’t get the previously promised after-school treat though.

Before you judge, do me a favor and go to YouTube. Pull up a video of some teenaged girls getting to see The Beatles for the first time. For One Directioners, it’s that. You may not think 1D measures up to The Beatles, but I can assure you that their fan base is every bit as intense.

Which brings me to the lesson. Jane took comfort in Tweets about not judging other people’s emotional reactions to events that affect the things they love. And one of them had a good comparison.

Think about the reaction from adult men when a favorite player leaves a favorite team. Think about how the entire city of Cleveland reacted when Lebron James went to the Miami Heat.

Do they go running to the bathroom and cry? Do they beg their bosses to let them go home from work early? No, of course not. They are men, not teenaged girls.

But they sure do whine like little babies on Facebook. They angrily declare their disgust at the disloyalty of the player. They rid themselves of that treasured jersey with that now-despised number. They boo when that player returns on an opposing team.

In short, they react the same. Maybe even worse, since the One Directioners are sad but not particularly angry at the deserter.

Nerds have long complained about how people ridicule their obsessions with Pokemon, comic books, video games, and similar pursuits that non-nerds seem to think we should all grow out of by adulthood. But no one bats an eye at adult obsession with sports. (Ironically, I know some adults nerds who would ridicule Jane’s obsession with 1D).

I think it’s perhaps time that we all step back and give each other some room to breathe. And grieve. We’ve all got our obsessions. And if we are rational, we can admit that those obsessions are irrational. And if we aren’t, our spouses or close friends can whisper it in our ears during a calm moment.

And sometimes, something or someone upsets our obsessed-over apple cart. And we momentarily feel like we can’t go on because of it. People who don’t get it should take a minute to realize they have their own apple carts. And then just wait. We’ll get over it.

I’ll worry if she’s still wound up a week from now. She’s already doing better. She’s righted her cart and she’s picking up her apples. And she’s a bit stronger and a bit more aware of her feelings now than she was before. And that’s an important part of growing up.

 

*A note on spelling. When I asked Jane to read this to make sure she was ok with me telling the story, she commented that I misspelled his name (Zayne – as can be seen in the text I sent her). Since I got that spelling from news sources, the problem is apparently widespread. I asked her how to spell it and her response made me sad. She said, “It’s Z-A-Y-N. Unless you want to spell it the way he really spells it and then it’s Z-A-I-N. But their publicists decided that was too ethnic so they changed the ‘I’ to a ‘Y’.” Too ethnic? She had to clarify that he is of Arabic descent. This is probably another post entirely but I think it’s sad that we can’t let people be who they really are. Afraid they wouldn’t be a success if we aren’t all fooled into thinking they are “white”? Shame.

In A Nutshell…

I haven’t had much time to blog lately and I don’t see that changing for awhile now. I’ve had a lot of ideas on things to write about but then things get in the way. Things like working overtime, my husband hogging the computer to work on our taxes, being too tired. Always too tired.

I planned to blog about our nearly-disastrous, certainly not-as-planned two-day Spring Break. The one that had us sit immobile on the interstate for nearly an hour because of downed power lines. And then we finally got to our destination to find it hopelessly overcrowded with no place to park. So we headed to Central Market. Yes, the Great Spring Break of 2015’s highlight was a trip to a grocery store.

But, you see, it was BaconFest! This cracked my husband and me up since Pandora had been ruthlessly advertising BaconFest during our morning workouts for weeks. We gave each kid a certain amount of money to spend and everyone had the time of their lives buying bagels, tortillas with bacon chunks in them, stinky cheese, fruit.

The next day, we traveled to another town 2 hours away just so Jane could see a couple of friends. Only one of them bailed. And the communication with the other wasn’t great. They still had a great time, although Daddy spent all his time unexpectedly ferrying people about. I played “Lunar Golf” (mini golf with glow-in-the-dark elements under black lights) with the two boys, who fought in such a ridiculous way that I was exhausted.

Trust me, the telling of their interaction was going to be so funny! Weeks ago, that is. Why bother now?

We drove from there to a town roughly halfway home so I could buy some wine from my new favorite winery. But they wouldn’t let me sample without sitting at a table and ordering a flight. Eight quickly consumed ounces of wine later (on an empty stomach), I was swaying at the counter buying 9 bottles of wine and joining their wine club.

And then we headed back home to some friends’ house, where we ate great food and drank more wine. All in all, a reasonably good but not-as-planned and way-too-short Spring Break. But all it gets is a light brush stroke because it’s simply not current.

Then there’s Daryl, who broke his right thumb last week. He’s the only kid in our family that is right handed. So now he’s in a splint and the school has to have a special meeting to secure permission for him to take his standardized tests without filling in the bubbles. He’ll read off his answers to a teacher who will fill in the bubbles for him. Assuming it’s all approved.

The tale of how he broke it (playing dodge ball at school) was a riveting tale as he shared it with me. I planned to share it with you. But the energy seems to have gone out of the moment and I no longer think I could do it justice.

Then there’s the ongoing Tooth Fairy near failures. Both Daryl and Hal lost teeth last week. I think Hal now has more holes than he does teeth. Some friends, some semi-local, some from two states away, came over Saturday night. I remarked at the beginning of the evening that I had to remember to perform my Tooth Fairy role for Hal.

Well… by the time everyone was loading up to go about 1:30 Sunday morning… yeah, I know… bad idea… anyway… by then, I had completely forgotten about the tooth. And in a lucky, saved-my-butt-but-also-demonstrated-what-a-lame-tooth-fairy-I-am move, one of the guests reminded me. Yes, one of the guests. In my defense, he was the only one who hadn’t been drinking. But still. He’s not even a parent!

Maybe that’s why he still has brain cells.

Then we get to today. When the big news was not who was announcing a run for the Presidency, not that voice recordings had been successfully removed from the black box in that horrific airline crash, not that Earth exists because Jupiter was a giant planet-eating monster back in the day.

No, the big news of the day was that Zayne Malik left One Direction. And my daughter’s world stopped spinning. It’s not the proudest moment of her life. She knows it’s silly and even stupid. Still, it is very raw and real to her.

She called her dad to leave school early. He wasn’t happy when he learned the reason. She cried and cried and cried. She threw away her teen magazines. She took the poster down from her wall – the one covered in lipsticky kisses. She can’t stand to see them now. She regrets not going to their concert last year. One Direction just isn’t One Direction without Zayne.

Some of her friends are supportive. Some are dismissive.

And it’s all so ridiculous. But it’s where she is. And it’s real. And I will do my best to not belittle her but to help her through it. Because, believe it or not, I can’t bring myself to dismiss her pain. Even if it is “just” over a boy band.

So there’s my last several weeks in a nutshell.

We shall see how long it takes me to crack the next nut.

Until then, take care.