I was never one to have posters of pop stars in my room (in fact, what I did have in my childhood room was glossy white wallpaper with black velvet/flocked images of old movie stars from Shirley Temple to Clark Gable - I know, I know). But the recent news of George Michael really got me thinking about my life in the 80’s, how much I wished I had his hair, body, etc. Unfortunately for me, I looked much more like his partner-in-Wham!, Andrew Ridgeley so as the news of his death spread, I wondered, “Dear God, if you had to take someone, couldn’t you have taken Andrew Ridgeley?”
Can we discuss that George Michael was only 53? What the fuck? A year older than me? When my pal, Greg texted me the news of his death (way ahead of any news app on my phone alerted me, I’ll have you know) I have to admit I was more stuck on the age than the fact George Michael was dead. “If George Michael was dead at 53, what chances did I have with what undoubtedly is my last year on the planet before I turn 53?”, was the first thing to go through my mind.
You see, in the 80’s and beyond, I was so enamored with George Michael and thought he was so cool that I was sure he was a much older man when I was loving him and his short shorts in the “Wake Me Up” video and beyond. He seemed so hot and sexy that he had to be much older, right?
Truth be told, I didn’t have crushes on celebs like George Michael like other kids. I didn’t want to sleep with him or have him sing a song just for me - I guess that should have been in the reverse order. What I really wanted was his celeb, action-packed lifestyle. I wanted that five o’clock shadow that only he and Barney Rubble seemed to have naturally. I wanted to be able to wear leather jackets and have them look like they belonged on me. And as someone who has always been a “rule” following, one man at a time sort of guy sexually, I even wanted his wild gay sex romps in public bathrooms too. As a gay kid in the 80’s, bathroom sex with anonymous strangers seemed about the sexiest thing that could ever happen to you. I would only later find out that bathroom sex is mostly reserved for closeted Republicans. (I would also discover that the men who walk around naked in locker rooms never look like they do in porn movies, their balls are dragging the floor and are the only part of their genitalia you can see from their huge bellies that seem to hide any notion of what sex they really are besides the “masculine” hairy backs that make them look like gorillas - not in a good way.) As a bit of a clean freak, I’ll also admit that I can’t even imagine the whole bathroom sex thing. There aren’t enough disinfecting moist towelettes I could carry in my pockets to wipe everything down (including the person) to make that happen.
So as I ponder the young death of George Michael, I’ll listen to his music, consider buying a “Choose Life” t-shirt and wonder why dear God, you made me in the image of Andrew Ridgeley instead of George Michael. It’s a little (okay very little) like Tevya from Fiddler On The Roof, <sung to If I Were A Rich Man> “Would it spoil some vast eternal plan? If I looked like George Michael?” Stay healthy, Andrew!