It was nice to find something we could talk about, two and a half hours into our blind date. (We both said we never went on blind dates, although in retrospect you were definitely lying.) We had exhausted the conversation by then. I did not find your aspiration to save $11,000 to buy a toy poodle to match your Fendi baguette a worthy one, and I thought aerobic kickboxing, slip trail pottery, and urban agriculture, while they may be amusing diversions individually, when combined in one person qualifies as a squandering of your God-given life. You did not seem appropriately impressed when I said I could bench-press one hundred and seventy-five pounds, even though you were the one that asked, and should have been prepared to fake enthusiasm no matter the number. So the evening was headed for disappointment, when you mentioned you were planning to spend all weekend watching a Beverly Hills 90210 marathon on SoapNet.
“You’re kidding me,” I said. “That’s like my favorite show ever.”
We spent the next three hours getting shit-faced and deconstructing the hell out of this staple of our youth. Our favorite character was Brandon. I thought it was a ground-breaking performance by Jason Priestly, who was obviously stretching the limits of his craft by acting purely with his eyebrows, and nothing else. You laughed and said why shouldn’t he act that way, when his eyes could bore straight into your soul? We ended up back at your place, watching, what else, our favorite show. It was the episode where the new, mysterious girl Emily Valentine takes Brandon to an underground club and gets him to take a drug that’s supposed to be ecstasy but someone told the writers to call U4EA, and Brandon voluntarily admits all of this happened to his parents over breakfast, which angers them but also shows Brandon has not betrayed their trust. I wondered aloud how many teenagers in 1992 ended up admitting their own drug use to their parents because of this episode, and you were like, “Socially responsible television rocks,” which made me think you were too cool for school, in a good way.
When we were making out on your couch, and you whispered, “Dylan, I’m a virgin,” in my ear, I thought it was the single funniest thing anyone could say to someone they’re about to have sex with. So I answered in a super-husky voice, “It’s okay, Brenda, I’ll take care of you,” and you pretended to almost cry, and if I wasn’t really horny at the time I would have been rolling on the ground laughing. When we were actually having sex, and you started yelling Brandon’s name, I thought that was sort of weird, so I called you Kelly, but you didn’t seem to accept that, and I didn’t want to imagine myself having sex with Donna or Andrea, so I guess either you were back to being yourself or you were still Brenda, which—okay, maybe I’m a sick fuck, but I went with it.
I was so impressed by your total dedication to pop-culture mockery. The drawers filled with thousands of unanswered letters to Shannon Doherty, many of which you’d taken the time to cut individual letters out of magazines for, asking things like, why are you so hard on your brother? Leave him alone, he’s a hundred times the Walsh you’ll ever be! Or meta-critical demands like, if you insist on breaking Dylan’s heart, I will have no choice but to stop you by taking your own. My uncle is a taxidermist. I pointed out that Ms. Doherty, being a completely out-of-touch celebrity, might interpret that last one as a threat. “Yeah, they had the cops put a cease-and-desist on me after that,” you said, which made me so angry, because no one could take a joke anymore.
But we didn’t have a thing in common, besides that show. You seemed to take it okay when I said I wanted to see other people, and you even said you were coming over, for what I thought was going to be some earth-shattering role-playing-break-up-sex. I shouldn’t have stripped down to my underwear and let you tie me up. I should have wondered what was in the big plastic gas can you brought over (it was gasoline). And I most definitely should not have been brought to tears with laughter, when you grabbed my shoulders, planted a kiss on my forehead, and said, “Brandon, we’ve been cancelled. Again.” By the time I recovered my bathroom was engulfed in flames. After I escaped and sat huddled under a fireman’s blanket in the front yard, I wondered where you were, who you’d meet next, and what terrible damage Aaron Spelling had wreaked on all of our lives.