There are those trends from our youth that we all admit to sharing. Everyone had a copy of “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, didn’t they? Or perhaps you were more a “Hysteria” by Def Leppard sort? Ha ha, remember when we used to wear Day-Glo? Hee hee, acid-washed peg-leg jeans! Ho ho, VC Andrews books!
I am convinced, however, that there are the pop culture items that we think we love alone. You think to yourself, did anyone else remember Frankenweenie? Nah. They don’t. I was the only one. And you feel alone in your cheezy love, but also sort of glad no one else remembers it, because it is so bad, SO cheezy, that it would be too painful for anyone else to know of your love.
This is how I feel about Father Ralph.
Anyone know what I am talking about? I am talking about (and I barely can make myself type this out) THE THORN BIRDS. I, at an entirely age-inappropriate time in my life, had a burning love for Father Ralph. That’s right. The priest that raised up little Meggie from toddler-dom to womanhood, and then turned his fatherly love for her into sexy-forbidden-horizontal-lambada love for her. Father DeBriccasart. De-frickin-Briccasart. Doesn’t that sound like a combination between fricassee and brisket? So meaty. And I loved it. LOVE, love, loved it. I am always so forgiving of my youthful self, and I almost always can remember what it felt like to love the things I used to love in my childhood years, but this one? I can’t do it. Former me, I don’t GET YOU. Former me, I totally judge you for this. I mean, EW. Ick ick ick. Leathery, orangy Richard Chamberlain? Wearing priest dresses? Really????
Yes, really. I can barely remember watching the mini-series on tv, and I can’t imagine HOW I was able to watch this at such a tender age with my very media-conscientious parents around, but I did. There are certain scenes of it that I have a hazy memory of, like Meggie’s pink dress, and Father Ralph chasing her down the beach (oh dear jehosephat) and other nasty bidness like that. I then remember discovering that this epic miniseries was based on a book, which I read as a teen and recommended to all of my friends who loved Father Ralph just as hard as I did.
When I went to college, I had just about forgotten about Father Ralph and his smudgy eyeliner. (He totally had smudgy eyeliner on all the time. I swear.) Then, one year in college, I was sick for like a week. And during that week, I watched bazillions of movies. And when I was at the end of this week, I was at the movie store, and completely out of ideas. Until I saw him. On the shelf. Father Ralph! You have returned to me! I rented it to see if it was all I had remembered it to be.
It wasn’t. I rolled my eyes at it. I laughed at it. I couldn’t believe that I had loved it so much. Could. Not. Believe. Then, towards the end of the series– (because yes I totally watched it all. All nine million hours of it)– some scene came on. I wish I could remember now what it was. But the melodrama! It sucked me in! And I started to tear up. Oh, the forbidden love! They can never be together! Waaaaahhhhh!
This is the precise moment that my friend U. walked into the room. I may not remember the scene I was watching, but I remember my friend’s face. He looked at the screen. Father Ralph in his be-frocked glory. He looked at me. Teary-eyed. He just stared at me and Father Ralph. Our forbidden love exposed.
My friend laughed at me. And you know what I did? I tried to DEFEND it. No really, it’s a good movie, I lied. It’s not what you think! My friend knew I was talking crap. He could smell the shame on me. It was the scent of Father Ralph, emanating off of me. We never spoke of it again.
Yesterday, I saw U. I hadn’t hung out with him since my birthday, and he brought me a present. I am always, always open to accepting presents. So exciting.
I opened it. And what did I find? This.
The Missing Years?! The Missing Years.
I looked at this present- a gag gift, in all senses of the term. Ha ha, funny! Gag.
He so called me out on that one. He remembered, all these years, when he caught me crying over Father Ralph. And he brought it back. In front of OTHER PEOPLE, even.
Oh the shame of it. Father Ralph, you’ve besmirched yet another young victim.
Please someone. Make me feel better. Did Father Ralph ever touch your heart? Your dirty, dirty heart?