The 11 year old fangirl who will be calling herself “Camille” in another decade or so has done her typical slapdash job on math homework while spinning More of the Monkees with a Tiffany chaser. She followed that up by devouring the latest Lurlene McDaniel feel good novel about childhood terminal illness with the speed and reflective nuance of your average wood chipper. Another day of 5th grade nerdiness and social isolation awaits her, and her Dad’s overdue for a seizure to boot. Before turning out the lights, the girl stands on her bed to reach the 36×24 orange poster that looms over the room, surrounded by other pinups and photos. Under her lips as she kisses four times, the poster feels both slippery from the coating and a little sticky from the dozens of good night kisses before that one. She turns out the light and as she drifts off, she once again wonders why, exactly, life is worth living. She mopes for a few minutes, and then she remembers. Whether on TV, in the songs they sang, or in what little she knows of their real lives, the guys on her wall never gave up, even when they screwed up or the whole world was against them. And somehow things had gotten much better for each of them. If they didn’t quit, then she couldn’t quit either. Holding on to that truth (or at least what she believes is the truth), she drifts off to sleep.
In that way, 24 hours at a time until the moment a year or so later when I abruptly outgrew both that dark space and (for almost 10 years) those 4 guys, I always decided not to quit. And somehow things got much better for me too. But here’s you’re a question to bake your noodle (if I didn’t still ponder it at times, would I be writing a pop culture blog?)—was it, as I believed at the time, really the Monkees (or any of my other early celebrity loves) who saved me from my depression, or was I motivated by four half-real (if even that) symbolic constructions that lived rent-free in my head? If the latter, didn’t I really just save myself?