“When I grow up, I’m going to marry someone who is blonde with an English accent and an overbite.” -me at 12 years old after I saw Hayley Mills in Pollyanna and The Parent Trap
In 1985, I was 12 years old, and would by November 1st of that year, embark on the oh so lovely years of being a teenager, but before my teenage years from hell arrived, I had a few months in 1985 where I walked around in a kind of a swoon, with a kind of love sick heart, in a kind of haze that I had seen my future and my future just had to be with Hayley Mills. But being 12 years old in rural Florida in 1985, I wasn’t exactly sure what that future was because I had no clue that I was gay, I only knew that somehow my future just had to somehow involve Hayley Mills somehow being a part of it.
But how did this need for a future with Hayley Mills all start?
Let’s go on a bit of a round-about trip to find out. Shall we?
Well, I was at home one day, minding my own business, as I tended to do because minding my own business meant I wasn’t noticed and at that point in our home, not being noticed tended to be a good thing, even if it meant I spent a lot of time being horribly lonely, at least I was horribly lonely in somewhat peace. But that lonely peace went all to hell, before I knew it was heaven, when we got a knock on our door one Saturday afternoon in 1985.
Everything always stopped in our home when we got a knock on our door with a big mental, “UH OH!” from everyone, or at least from me. Why were knocks on our door cause for such concern?
Were the police after us?
Was the mob after us?
Was the IRS after us?
And we never made enough money for the IRS to care about us, so hell nope!
Instead the cause for major “UH OH!” concern that would happen from a knock on the door at our house was because it was usually the Mormons calling on us.
And they did this calling on us all the time.
Now why in the world would the Mormons be bothering all the time with a bunch of sometimes Baptist, sometimes thinking about being Catholic, going to church maybe occasionally, then obsessively, then never again, then one of us finally became a Catholic, schizophrenic about religion us? Because a big chunk of my dad’s side of the family are Mormon. Or really, were. Not many of them made it to Mormonhood once adulthood set in. A few made it to Mormonhood in adulthood, but they weren’t exactly shining examples of Mormons either. Let’s put it this way, my Great Grandma Rosie stayed a Mormon into adulthood and went to church, but she was divorced and drank martinis and highballs, so not exactly Mormon behavior.
Grandma Rosie was awesome, though, and taught me how to play golf and raved about my height when I hit puberty (or really, it hit me) and I started growing and didn’t stop for several years, because we are a short family and my 5 feet 6 inches to my Grandma Rosie’s 4 feet 11 inches seemed like I was a giant indeed, and so she would go around telling everyone in the family, “Just look at Ali’s height! Just look at the height on that girl!” I don’t know why she called it “height” but that was Grandma Rosie for you. She would also go on and on about my “height” and how I would be able to pick oranges off of the orange trees that were in the backyard of her parents’ farm, “without a ladder or even a step stool,” as Grandma Rosie would say to me that summer in 1984 when I started growing like a weed and that was mostly just my legs and I had the terrible knee aches to prove it. Picking oranges off the orange trees in her backyard without the need for a ladder or even step stool was a wish she had for herself as a kid, but never had it granted because she never grew tall enough. But I had grown tall enough, and even though her parents’ farm was long gone and I never got to see it or pick any of those oranges off of the orange trees without the use of a ladder or even a step stool, in my Great Grandma Rosie’s world, I was a celebrity and a goddess. No wonder I love this woman so much and miss her every single day.
Anyway, back to my point…maybe…my dad would go around all the time when I was a kid (and still now, actually) saying, “Once a Marine, always a Marine,” because, well, my dad was a Marine, and apparently being a Marine is like being a Mormon, once you are one, you always are one. Except my dad didn’t want to be anything remotely even close to being a Mormon ever, ever, not in a million years, ever again. So, when we got a knock on our door when I was growing up, it was tension-filled because if it was a couple of poor, innocent Mormon missionary boys, well, they got a lot of yelling from my dad and a lot of that yelling included a lot of cuss words. He was a Marine, after all. Let’s put it this way, I knew all the cuss words there was to know by the time I was 2 years old thanks to my dad’s years being a Marine. Funny, I never used profanity until I met my wife, who cusses like a Marine too, but somehow, she makes it sound classy and sophisticated.
Okay, before I digress any further, like always, the point of that knock on our door that sent me into “UH OH!” stress levels was that it didn’t bring sweet Mormon boys who would soon face my dad’s frustrated anger at a religion that just did not get a clue that at 39 years old, my dad was not at that time and never would be interested in being a Mormon ever again. But instead the knock brought us an angel that day, despite my family’s inability to stick to a religion, because when my dad answered the knock on the door, as I crunched up in fear, waiting for the cuss words to start flying in scream-form from my dad, instead all I heard my dad say was, “Son, I have been waiting for you my whole life!”
Was the “son” my dad mentioned the long, lost illegitimate son he always teased my big sis and me that he probably had roaming around the world somewhere since he apparently got up to some shenanigans when he was a Marine where he spent time in exotic locations like the Philippines, Japan, and eventually Vietnam (where he was lucky enough not to get killed) and where women were in plethora and my dad took advantage of this plethora of women?
Instead, my favorite wish of finally having a brother was not granted. But it was my second favorite wish that came true that day because that “son” was the cable guy telling my dad that cable TV was coming to our neighborhood and did we want to sign up!!!!!!
Oh sweet Lord in heaven!
My lifelong dream came true!
We were getting cable TV!!!!!!
And so my dad being a lover of TV as much as me, pulled that nice, young man into our madhouse home and sat him down and told him to sign us up for every channel there was!!! And that included – HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, The Movie Channel, and best of all, the channel that would lead me to my destiny with my wife – The Disney Channel!!!!
Me and my dad just a few short years away from the cable guy showing up and making our lives with Joan Crawford Junior, aka my mother, livable again. See this guy, Mormons, well he’s a bit older and has only gray hair now, but please, leave him alone. Hasn’t the man said no enough to being a Mormon already?
Although it felt like decades, it was probably only a few weeks until cable TV arrived at our house, but when it did, my dad and me were all about cable TV 24/7/365!!! And then during that summer in 1985, the greatest day in my life happened (until the day I met my wife, that is), the day I found out that The Disney Channel was going to have a Hayley Mills marathon month!!!
Who is Hayley Mills?
Well, I didn’t know who in the hell she was when I was 12 years old. But when The Disney Channel started showing ads non-stop for Hayley Mills and her movies that were coming soon to the channel and how a whole month that summer would be devoted just to her, I began to wonder who this pretty girl was and how did I go 12 whole years without knowing that this woman was walking around on the planet Earth? Well, my TV never had her on it before, so I didn’t know that this Hayley Wonderful Mills person even existed. But once I knew she existed, well, I just had to know more about her! I just had too!
There was no internet in 1985, so no IMBd to look up this wonderful Hayley Mills person to see what other movies I could watch her in too and who she was and where was she from and what was she doing now. Even though I hadn’t seen her in one damn movie yet, because Hayley Mills month had yet to arrive on The Disney Channel, but still I was already all goose pimply and my heart was all a flutter every single time an ad came on The Disney Channel for the upcoming Hayley Mills marathon month that would include Pollyanna and The Parent Trap! Yay!!
What’s a parent trap?
Not knowing that Hayley Mills existed for the first 12 years of my life and no IMDb, meant I also didn’t know what movies she had been in, so I had never heard of this parent trap thing before that was a movie that was apparently so wonderful that a sequel was in the works to be made some 20-plus years after the original and came out the next year. But until then, even only seeing her in just the ads for her movies, I could already tell that I was very interested in seeing this Hayley Wonderful Mills person, indeed, in these wonderful movies that she was in, so I marked the date in my head of when this Hayley Mills month long marathon would occur on The Disney Channel that included behind the scenes interviews with her, because I just had to see what this Hayley Mills person was up to in the movie and real world. I just had to!
But until the month long Hayley Mills marathon began, I had to occupy my now Hayley Mills obsessed brain with some kind of Hayley Mills information. Normally, I went to my dad about movie facts, but I had a feeling that my dad was not a purveyor of Hayley Mills Disney movies, so probably not a purveyor of Hayley Mills movies in general either. And I was right, he wasn’t, but someone else in my home was, someone I was always trying to figure out ways to get her to pay attention to the fact that I existed, all at the same time I hoped that she wouldn’t know I existed, because when it is your mom that you don’t want to know you exist, sometimes it gets a little confusing, because you still want a mom in your life even when your own mom is Joan Crawford Junior. But Joan was still somewhat relatable then, so I sucked in my fear of my own mother and decided to ask her if she knew who this Hayley Wonderful Mills person was, because I had a feeling that my mom was a purveyor of Hayley Mills movies. And I was right. She had been almost as obsessed with Hayley Mills when she was a teenager as I was on my way to becoming in my soon to be here teenage years.
So I had one of those rare occasions in my life where I actually got to bond with my mom as she went on and on and on about the wonderful Hayley Mills and all about her movies that she made for Walt Disney and what they were and when she was in them and what she was up to now and what she had been up to before now and after Disney movies and basically anything and everything that I could think of to ask my mom about Hayley Mills, I did, because for once, I had a mom who wasn’t imitating Joan Crawford. So I was in double heaven, I had a mom, for once, and I had Hayley Mills in my near future.
And then that future day finally became present day and I sat down and watched Pollyanna and then The Parent Trap in one double feature that started off Hayley Mills marathon month that forever changed me. And by the time the movies were over and I had finally seen Hayley Mills in not one, but two films in one day, I had fallen in love. I just didn’t know that what I was experiencing was my first love of a girl.
Hayley Mills in Pollyanna…
You know when you are about 11 or 12 years old and you have a “boyfriend” or a “girlfriend” but you’re really mostly just two friends who hang out sometimes and look at each other all giggly and you feel so wonderful about each other and maybe you hold hands and maybe you even kiss a little, but that is about all and it is mostly innocent and sweet and even Donny Osmond (also a Mormon, is that a theme in my life?) sang a song about it, “And they called it puppy love…,” well, that was my love for Hayley. It was a puppy love. I was a 12 year old girl who was gay and didn’t know it, so I didn’t ever have puppy love with a boy, and it being 1985, I couldn’t have puppy love with a girl in my real life either, so instead, I fell in a kind of kindred spirit puppy love with Hayley Mills. Because after I saw Hayley in Pollyanna and The Parent Trap, if she had existed in my real life, I would have followed her around like a lost little puppy dog, all smitten with her beauty and humor and her wonderful smile that always showed her overbite. She was blonde and blue-eyed and she had a dreamy English accent, and I thought everything about her was wonderful and I couldn’t know enough wonderful things about her.
She was good and kind and wanted to help people be happy in Pollyanna. She was good and kind and silly and rebellious when she played twins, YES TWINS, SO THAT MEANT DOUBLE THE HAYLEY IN ONE MOVIE, in The Parent Trap. The way she talked sent goose bumps up my spine. The way she stuck out her tongue a little, like I always did, made me think we could be best friends. The way she played at being a tomboy in The Parent Trap made it seem perfectly normal, so it made me feel normal and so I wanted to give her a hug to thank her when I saw that, but then I wondered why picturing that hug made me feel oh so lovely things that maybe a girl shouldn’t feel for another girl. But I ignored that fear as best as I could, put it right back there where it belonged, in denial land.
I would think to myself sometimes that I didn’t know Hayley Mills, but maybe my uncle who worked with actors in Hollywood and New York City did, so maybe there was a chance to know her, but I was too shy and embarrassed of my feelings to ask him, so I spent time with Hayley only in my head instead. And in my head, Hayley and me would have conversations about movies and what it was like being English and how I have lots of English ancestry too and how funny English comedies are. We had so much in common! Sometimes we went to the movies together and sometimes we just sat around talking about our day. And all of this happened in my head. And then one day, in my head, we held hands, and that scared me, but I let her hold my hand anyway and did my best to enjoy the wonderful feeling of holding her hand without being too frightened about why I loved holding her hand so very, very much.
The local TV Guide then had an article with her in it to help celebrate, aka promote, Hayley Mills month on The Disney Channel, so I cut the article out, along with the pictures of her and put the article and pictures in my pencil box from the 6th grade and put that 6th grade pencil box far, far, far, back, back, WAY back in the back of my top desk drawer, so I would always have a little piece of Hayley to pull out whenever I needed to see her because I didn’t want anyone else to know that I had cut out pictures and an article of her. I wanted so badly to hang up those pictures and article in my bedroom, like other girls my age did of boys they liked, but somehow I knew that maybe hanging up those pictures and article on my wall would give up my game, even though I didn’t know what that game was, so I hid my love for Hayley in the back, back, WAY back of my top desk drawer and took out the article and pictures when I was feeling lonely for her. I would eventually fill my pencil box from the 6th grade with pictures of other movie star women that I would find myself crushing on over the next few years and that pencil box always stayed in the back of that desk drawer to hide all of those feelings that I had for those women, that started with Hayley, until those feelings came pouring out 14 years later.
And then one day while I was watching The Parent Trap for the millionth time that month of the Hayley Mills/Disney Channel marathon month from heaven, I was daydreaming of Hayley when I thought to myself, “One day, when I grow up, I’m going to marry someone who is blonde, with an English accent and an overbite.” Notice how I didn’t say “boy” or “girl” when I thought of my someday spouse, but instead only said “someone”? That’s because I somehow instinctively knew that I was never going to have a husband. I didn’t know why, I just knew that a husband was not going to be a part of my future. But I was too scared to say “girl” even just in my head thanks to denial land, so I used “someone” instead.
And so I kept wishing on that thought as the years passed and the Hayley Mills month long marathon on The Disney Channel came and went and so did my teenage years and even several years of my 20s. They all passed by, but I would still think on that wish of mine of my future someday spouse and still hoped that it would come true. I knew by my 20s that Hayley Mills was not going to be my someday spouse. It was a sad reality to face, but I had known since I was 12 that my pipe dream of being with Hayley Mills one day was really only just that, a pipe dream. And my uncle didn’t know her, so pretty much no way of ever running into her either, so that kind of killed the pipe dream too.
Then when I was 26, my sexuality came rushing at me like a freight train because I literally went one minute being in the dark that I was gay, and then the next minute suddenly a light hit me right in the face and I realized that OH SHIT! I’M GAY! And then after the panic, joy and relief at that realization subsided, I started to think again on that wish when I was 12. I still wanted that wish to come true. But it didn’t have to be Hayley to make it happen. And then I guess the family psychic gene that I had been denying my whole life that I had, decided to come out in full force too, because why not figure out you have some psychic abilities at the same time you are figuring out that you are gay, because then I got a premonition of when and where I would meet my someday spouse. (And yes, as crazy as this sounds, and crazy has been proven by experts about me, it is true. I don’t get it myself, but my wife is proof that it happened, so I just go with it.) And so I spent the next 6 weeks contemplating if I should actually go find my someday spouse at the where and when I knew I would meet her, because I was only a few months out of the closet and I didn’t think it was fair to this person that I had never met to suddenly dive into a relationship with me when I had just figured out that I was gay. But I guess Grandma Rosie, who had passed away a few years before, was with me that special day that my heart and soul had been spending six weeks telling me where and when to go meet my future someday spouse, because she shoved me out the door and kept me walking right to her. “Walk! Walk! Keep walking!” she told me, as I kept thinking that no, this isn’t fair, I just came out! And wasn’t it also kind of fucking nuts to think that I knew where and when I would meet my someday spouse??!! But I couldn’t help but also think about my 12 year old girl wish about my someday spouse and how Grandma Rosie’s wish of being tall enough to pick oranges without any need for assistance never came true, and now maybe my dream someday spouse wouldn’t come true either, so I kept walking for Grandma Rosie and for 12 year old me.
When I saw my wife for the very first time, the wish almost came true, or so I thought, because my future wife did have an English accent and a sexy overbite, but she had red hair instead of blonde. I didn’t mind. I love red heads almost as much as blondes, because Hayley proved to be the first in a long line of blondes that I still can’t get enough of and couldn’t get enough of when I fell in love with them when I was 12, 13, 14 years old. And I still love them all to this day, because I’m apparently a loyal bugger. But about six weeks after I met my someday spouse, as in I saw her, but was too shy to actually talk to her until a month after I first saw her, we finally went out on our very first date and that is when I found out that my future wife was not a real red head, but a natural blonde instead.
And it only took me 14 years to get there. 🙂
My wife’s English accent isn’t so real either or at least she isn’t from England and still to this day has never been there. She just has one. We don’t know why exactly. Mostly she has an English accent when she is out in public. It is a nervous tick, we think, or maybe even a past life thing that she is still carrying with her. Her English accent also gets really thick when she’s been listening to lots of BBC radio or watching lots of British TV. When she hangs out with me too long, she has a Southern accent, so who knows for sure about her changing accent, other than I got my wish granted. I guess maybe I wished so much, for so long, that I gave my wife an English accent without even being English and blonde hair even though she hates being blonde and would much rather be a natural red head instead. But I wished hard enough that I grew up and I married, not Hayley Mills, but another blonde with an English accent and an overbite. I guess my wife had no choice with all that wishing I had been doing for 14 years.
So, I guess I have Hayley Mills to thank for my wife. I wished on Hayley being my someday spouse hard enough that it kind of came true. And I’m glad it was my wife who I married instead, because that is a woman that was made to be with me. It’s exhausting to be with me thanks to my never ending battle with debilitating depression, but my wife has a steel soul that keeps me breathing. So thanks to my wife and Hayley Mills, I’m still here. And thanks to Hayley Mills, I will always have a soft spot for women with blonde hair, an English accent and an overbite. 🙂
Hayley Mills today. Still beautiful at 71 years young! 🙂
I’d still marry you, Hayley, if my wife gives the okay, that is.
But Hayley has got herself a man who is 20 years younger than her, so I think Hayley is doing just fine. 😉