I blame it
on the fact that I saw the Rolling Stone Cover and turned into a blithering
mass of jelly for the better part of Father's Day. I was in such a fog
over how much they sexed up Clay, I could barely concentrate on hubby's
special day. I forgot to call my elderly father. Bad, bad, bad. And I have
to admit I liked the feeling. Reluctantly, maybe, but I liked it. How did
that boy do it?
He had a lot of help.
But the boy is using his own stuff after all. The stuff God gave him.
I'm supposed to be
a writer. I have my first romance novel coming out in the fall, another
that is being considered by a very respected agent, another that is almost
complete and ready to be shopped around. They are books about tall, dark
and handsome heros, dangerous men who do daring things, the current trend,
of course. Alpha, macho men: Cops pretending to deal drugs, a hired thief
who works for Scotland Yard, even a wild midnight disc jockey. They could
teach Dr. Ruth a thing or two about sex. They started early. No one confuses
their sexuality. Or debates it.
They aren't boys. They
don't giggle and or make faces. They are very wary of kids and they do
not have a bevy of female roommates. Actually they don't trust women all
that much. They are estranged from their families. They don't attend church
or wear bracelets to remind them to do things Jesus' way. They might sing
in the shower, but off-key. I used to like my heros cold and cynical and
bruised by life.
Okay, that's what I
thought women wanted. Sue me. I was brought up on Arnold movies.
Why, then, am I obsessed
all of a sudden with a bouncy red-headed twenty-four-year-old? Why is my
forty year old sister doing the same thing? Her colleagues at school, too.
My eighteen and sixteen year old daughters, who claim to love the Vines
and the Hives and the White Stripes, are drooling over his voice? My daughter's
physics and chemistry teacher made cutouts of his face and hers to demonstrate
how atoms react to each other in nuclear explosions. The boys in the class
groaned. The girls squealed and pounded their desks.
The writers on one
of my list groups love him–some are N.Y. Times best selling authors. Everyone
from sixty to twenty has an opinion about Clay. Usually the opinion that
I as a fan want to hear, but always tempered with: He's not my usual type.
Or there's something mystical about his face, like he sprung up- giggling
-from behind a toadstool in Tolkien's forest.
of these women is a respected psychologist. She gets giddy!
I don't know what it
is. Maybe it was seeing him go from geek to hunk. We feel we possess him.
Like Prometheus molded clay into human form and stole fire to give it life,
we did the same with our Clay. Some of us voted, if we could. We bought
his CD. We told him what to wear through message boards. He heeded our
call and gave us Grease. He did it despite the crap he knew he'd take from
the Hydra. And when the sh-t hit the fan he took it in the gut like a major
So, we created him,
in a way. And we feel we created beauty. But the beauty was always there
all along. And the grace under fire. And that is so hero-like.
Yet, he's still his
own man. And we like that, too.
Now we are reaping
the benefits, saying to ourselves that we are proved right. Clay is innocent
male beauty. He's grace. He's class. And now he's sexy as hell. Rolling
Stone will make him a star. That's kind of scary for some and exciting
for others. We can't help but talk about it. Some of us feel enormously
guilty peering at his tummy.
not that guilty.
On that Rolling Stone
cover he qualifies as a classic rock hunk, in that skinny, narrow-hipped,
wide shouldered seventies rock star way. Like Mick and Bowie and Robert
Plant. And those who followed. He has an elfin, girly face, gorgeous hair
and sultry eyes. Are they blue or green? My fellow Clay-lovers and I could
muse on that for hours. I have spent hours peering at a tiny picture on
a computer screen at a tiny bit of hip bone until I am ashamed of myself.
not that ashamed.
All the while men look
at him and shake their heads. He is not macho. He's not cool. But then
my husband doesn't understand why I have a thing for Adrien Brody these
I'll have to continue
to mull this over and probably will for a long time. I love the guy. He's
my new hero. If it's okay for Demi Moore to have a go at Ashton, it's okay
to like Clay. Yet, as I watch him bloom and grow as an artist into an icon,
I can't help but feel a little sad, like I'm losing that elfin, skinny
creature who stepped into the light from behind that toadstool. I'm hoping
he never becomes one of those self-possessed and cynical stereotypes that
the media–-and so-called writers like myself--have tried to perpetuate
on the women of the world.
He won't let them do
that, I tell myself. He's still Clay. The boy who squeals over barbeque
and adores his mom.
There's a funny little
look on Clay's face on that Rolling Stone cover. A look that says that
he's not quite sure about this. Or maybe it's just him teasing us. Maybe
he was sure of that sexuality, his allure, all along. Just led us through
a merry dance until we found it out for ourselves. Made us believe that
we'd given life to it.
I know one thing. The
cynical heros I create are about to change, thanks to Clay Aiken. Don't
know if the N.Y. editors who seem to think they know what the readers want
will go for it. I hope to heck they read Rolling Stone. I hope Clay becomes
romantic lead in a movie.
Thanks to Clay, our
society's rather jaded icons are going to have to move over and make some
room. How very nice. Thanks, Rolling Stone. Thanks to the girl who was
brave enough to post that cover and got flack for it. You are too cool.
writes contemporary women's fiction as B.G. McCarthy.