If you have been following me on Twitter you know I like to acknowledge anytime there’s some kind of “6 Degrees of Separation” between me and Andy. Last night Andy hosted Tiffani Thiessen on Watch What Happens Live. I hadn’t heard the actress’s name in a while, and then a familliar “bell” rang in my head.
In 1990 I was 14 years old, in the 8th grade, and hopelessly obsessed with Saved By the Bell, particularly its blond all American good looking star Mark Paul Gosselaar. This wasn’t any minor teen crush, this was a big deal. I had a scrapbook, a shelf full of video tapes of every episode adorned with handmade pink construction paper labels, and the delusion that, if only I could convince my parents to move to Valencia CA (yes I looked up where he lived), I could arrange a marriage. So when word spread that Zack Morris and his TV girlfriend Kelly Kapowski, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, would be at a mall an hour away in Long Island, NY, I got my best whine ready and went in for the attack. I can’t remember how long it took to convince my mother to commit to taking me and my friend Joanna to the Valley Stream Green Acres Mall to stand in line with a thousand other teenage girls who were also engaged to Gosselaar, but somehow she agreed, and I was ecstatic. Finally a chance to meet my betrothed.
The details of that day so many many years ago are foggy. I don’t remember what I wore or how long it took to get there, knowing the L.I.E. I’m sure there was traffic, and knowing my mother I’m sure at some point we got lost. What I do remember is there was a howling pulsing mob of big banged clones in Cavariccis and Keds. The mass of crazed future Mrs.Gosselaars was frightening. Teenage girls can be scary to begin with, but throw in a hottie from the pages of Teen Beat magazine and they become downright dangerous. In scenarios like this the poor boy is less like an object of desire and more like a piece of meat being hurled into a den of hungry lions. If you’ve never witnessed it be glad you have been spared, and glad that you aren’t Justin Bieber.
Joanna and I were stuck somewhere in front, we weren’t the first ones there, but early enough that we could see the platform behind which MPG and TAT would sit to sign autographs. What happened next was a blur, but whatever caused the mob to go nuts and lurch forward set off my mother’s natural tendency for drama. Before I knew it she was screaming something to the guards about Joanna almost getting trampled, and Joanna and I were escorted to the front, let in behind the velvet ropes and sat on the platform. It may be the only time in my life I appreciated my mother’s habitual knack for making me the very embarrassed center of attention. So there we sat now the envy of all of our future Sister Wives.
|**Picture supplied by Joanna.That’s MPG entering the platform.|
When MPG came in I think I was first to meet him. I got his autograph and a couple of Polaroids. He was dressed in an off white sweater, which, to this day, I still find the sexiest article of clothing on a man.
Poor Tiffani, she sat there throughout the whole spectacle the incredibly skinny envy and object of hate of everyone there. It seemed nobody came to see her, nobody, that is, except for my 6 year old brother. She was his first crush. He made a picture for her and she knelt down to him, smitten with his little blond curls and angelic face. She took to him immediately.
My relationship with Mark Paul sadly fizzled after that day. I went home that night with my pictures and autograph which would just become another page in my scrapbook which has since been lost in a basement flood. However, having made an impression on Tiffani Amber I, already a good schmoozer in Jr.High, sat down and wrote her a letter for my brother. We sent it in the mail expecting to get an autographed press photo from her manager. A week or so later an envelope came back addressed from Long Beach, CA. It was handwritten and the studio was NOT in Long Beach, but I knew Tiffani lived there. Could it be? We opened the envelope to find a handwritten letter, mistakes and everything, on pretty stationary, from Tiffani herself. She stated she remembered him and thanked him for his drawing. To this day I don’t think I’ve ever seen my brother grin so wide.