1. The entire cast of the movie Newsies. This movie was directly responsible for your sexual awakening, and your interest in real life boys depended mostly on whether or not you could picture them dancing with dirt on their faces and talking in tortured cockney accents. Even as an adult, when you re-watched it with your niece, you were horrified to discover you are weirdly turned on by what you now understand are only children.
2. Your gay best friend in eighth grade. You didn’t know. When you were older, and he came out, you were actually dumbfounded. But how could you not have known? He loved Newsies too.
3. The reverend of the church you attended in high school. He would break the bread with his hands—a big loaf of freshly baked bread, cracked in half. You had only ever been given wafers before, but here was this large man with strong hands placing a doughy yeast ball on your tongue! You had to open your mouth for him! It absolutely short-circuited you.
4. The busboy at your first job in a restaurant. You were the hostess, and he would come and talk to you about the large parties. He had a wide nose like a lion and he was always softly chewing gum. Sometimes he would give you gum, but you were not allowed to chew gum while you were working, so this was done in a thrillingly covert way, that involved him passing it into your hand as he brushed against you, pretending to look into the computer screen lay-out of tables and guests.
5. You had a particularly young philosophy professor in college, perhaps thirty-five, older than anyone you had ever dated, but in an exciting way. He had glossy brown hair like a ‘90s child star, and very thick thighs and buttocks, and he spoke incredibly quietly so that all of you had to strain in your desks to hear his often puzzling discussions of Kierkegaard. He had a big, heavy looking, gold wedding band, and you longed to suck it right off his finger and then swallow it and see what he would do.
6. Your vet, Dr. Aiken. There was just something about the gentle and yet masterful way he handled your cat, Mr. Tiger. It made you want to be the one being turned this way and that on his cold metal table. He scolded you for how fat Mr. Tiger was getting, and even that made you a little swoony, because he acted like you and he were going to be taking care of Mr. Tiger together from here on out.
7. One of your employees when you were an office manager. You even took him out to dinner once, thinking the feeling was mutual—he was not that much younger than you. But it became clear by the time you ordered a second glass of wine that he was getting increasingly freaked out and you went home alone and felt dirty and horrible about yourself. You blame the movie Newsies. Has it corrupted you forever?
8. Your grandmother’s spinal surgeon. Really inexplicable, he was bald and thin, not your type, but he had mischievous eyes. Once you asked him, “When you are not working, and you are just at the mall or whatever, do you look around at people and think: I could cut them open?” He laughed and said, “A little bit, maybe.” You wonder if he thinks that about his wife! His children! What strange and yet terrestrial power. It is eerie to think of surgeons as just people. It makes you want to never ever have surgery, even though your grandma came through just fine.
9. Your child’s swim instructor. Newsies again. Newsies for life.