The Time I Spotted My Dead Rock Star Crush

I am the lizard king, I can do anything-
Jim Morrison (The Doors)

I was a high school sophomore and I was in love. Many of you remember the pulse-pounding, butterflies in belly, wow, do I always sweat this much feeling. You picture yourself with your crush doing all the things lovers do--eating pizza at the Papa Gino's down the street, getting drunk at high school dances after sneaking the liquor in with the help of some rinsed-out travel shampoo bottles, french kissing and maybe (depending on the type of girl you were) doing other stuff. 

It was the spring of 1991. I met him in a local library. He was a poet turned misunderstood rock star. His eyes were soulful, his mind an intricate maze of deep thoughts and cool lyrics. His name was Jim and he'd been dead since 1971. 

Presumed dead you often reminded yourself as you drew hearts on your spiral notebook and scribbled Mrs. Morrison in hot pink pen. You imagined the two of you getting drunk on some Bartles and James wine coolers, the pink not the purple, before heading into the dance and making out through the entirety of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game."

The day you run into him you are in Osco Drug sitting on the floor looking through the latest Sixteen magazine dreaming of a time when you'll shake the dust from this dingy little city off and move to Los Angeles. You realize, yet again, you are procrastinating, a habit you will carry into your college days and early adult ones. Once you have children this vice will fad--motherhood and procrastination don't mix. 

You spot him on the outside of the store with his backpack. It is old and dingy and matches his clothes. He has a beard, though not the big bushy one he wore at the end of his life--the one that made him look like Grizly Adams younger and hotter brother or like a bloated Jesus.

He moves along the line of windows, through the parking lot and toward the bus stop. This makes total sense--that he'd be taking public transportation. You read in the Doors book that he would just give cars away or forget about them, so him being without a ride seems spot on. 

Maybe he can take the bus with you to school. How cool would you two look, side by side--hands in each other's back pockets (cause they did stuff like that in the 70's movies you are now obsessed with)? Of course his leather pants were pretty tight in the movie, your hand probably won't fit and if it does there is the possibility that it will get stuck. God, you think I'll totally have to stop over-thinking things when we start dating. Jim likes to go with the flow--at least you imagine he does. 

No, you won't ruin this with too much thinking. You chase him through the parking lot trying not to seem desperate as you hike up your skirt, rolling it three times, and push down your nylon navy blue socks which leave indentations. No worries, he'll be too busy looking into your eyes--the window to your soul--and won't even notice your legs, one of which you've forgotten to shave again. You finish off the look by unbuttoning the top two buttons, and trying to pull apart the starched Peter Pan collar. 

He enters the library. You follow him through fiction and into the encyclopedia area, which is where reality begins to set in. Jim looks good, great in fact--though you haven't exactly seen his face full on. 

Instead you've observed him in profile and from behind. He is assumed to have died 20 years ago, which would make him 47. He doesn't look 47. He looks like Jim in 1971--better in fact. He's lost the paunch and trimmed the beard, though the hair remains long. 

How could he have avoided age? While it's possible that he didn't really die in Paris--you never trusted that slutty groupie girlfriend of his--it is impossible for him to have remained a 27-year-old. 

Why? You ask yourself. You hope it wasn't out loud. Jim is actually speaking with the librarian now. He, you reason, may have had scientific help. Maybe his body was cryogenically frozen like Walt Disney. No, it doesn't seem plausible but keeping Perfect Strangers on television for six seasons doesn't seem plausible either yet it continues to come back every week. 

The plot remains the same from episode to episode--the uptight cousin watches his goat-loving, snort-laughing cousin make a Lucille Ball sized mess (though he's no Lucy) and then the responsible, American coozin steps in to clean it up. His way too hot girlfriend, who would never go for him, but does, looks on and offers comfort and understanding.

Did the librarian just call him Paul? Why? You're sure he's just going under an assumed name. Maybe he's in witness protection. Maybe he was frozen and when he awoke and realized the evil plan of his captors, he fled. 

Oh shit, you just stopped for a minute to pick up the book you need for history class and he's gone. You run outside praying. Just as you hit the top step, you see his faded backpack. Jim is on the bus. You can't see the bus can't run fast enough. He's gone. 

Every day for a month you wait by the bus stop. You never see him again. Now, every time you return home for a visit and pass that store, which is now something else, and that bus stop, you remember. You are more sure than ever that you spotted The Lizard King standing outside of a drugstore in small city New England. Jim Morrison is alive somewhere and someday you'll see him again. It's as plausible, you reason, as a Perfect Strangers reunion. 


  1. He took a bus? Not a limo! Loved Perfect strangers btw....

  2. Of course his leather pants were pretty tight in the movie, your hand probably won't fit and if it does there is the possibility that it will get stuck. God, you think I'll totally have to stop over-thinking things when we start dating. Jim likes to go with the flow--at least you imagine he does.
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