In 5th grade, I developed a crazy crush on Bret Michaels.
My friend Jill played me the “Talk Dirty To Me” cassette single, I immediately traded in my Kirk Cameron pin-ups for Poison posters (which concerned my immigrant mom who upon seeing the pics of men in lipstick asked, “This girls is lesbians?”).
By 6th grade, my crush had turned into obsession. While my polo-shirt wearing classmates swooned over the comparatively clean-cut NKOTB, I was swinging the tassels of my denim jacket (with white pleather fringe) to the beat of “Nothing But A Good Time.” At home, I’d plug my headphones into my pink boom box, set it on the dinner table and eat my Celeste frozen pizza while belting the entire “Look What The Cat Dragged” album. I wanted to upset my parents with this 11-year-old angst, but instead, they just laughed at the little clueless girl singing lyrics like “ I got a girl on the left of me, a girl on the right, I know damn well I slept with both last night.”
Other than Jill and my pretend friend VJ Ricki Ratchman, I didn't know anybody who shared my obsession, until I went and saw Poison live at the Boston Garden. There I stood with thousands of other Poison fans, and it was also there that, from row 57, I swear I saw Bret Michaels point at ME while sweetly serenading "Fallen Angel."
It was then that I knew we had to be together. So I wrote him a love letter, complete with school photo.
Surprisingly, he didn’t respond to my marriage proposal. What? A man almost in 30s didn’t want to get with this a pre-teen with unkempt eyebrows holding a Poison pillow she made in Home Ec? WTF?
Instead the Poison fan club sent me an offer to join (which I did) and a post card promoting the new album of Bret’s then rumored girlfriend. Whoa, way to rub it in my face Bret!
Eventually, around age 14 I began to lose interest in Bret and instead gain interest more important things like Z. Cavarichi pants, whether or not Donna and David would ever do it, and boys that were my own age.
Still I wonder, had Bret responded to my letter with a “Giulia, I am so glad you wrote. Ever since I saw you from 100 feet I knew you were the one, I love you so much. Let’s get married!” what would my life be like now.
A few thoughts:
- I’d own LOTS of Ed Hardy gear. Which, to be honest, I’d look pretty hot in a sequin skull embossed trucker hat with matching sequin faux Uggs.
- I’d be an expert at sugar-free baking. In case you didn’t know, my husband is diabetic. But fear you not, I make a damn good Sweet N Low apple pie.
- I would hear "Every Rose Has It’s Thorn" over and over and over again and over and over again and be okay with it. He likes to sing it a lot. He sang it a lot on "Rock Of Love," and on "Bachelor Pad" (cause that made sense ) and on "American Idol."
- I would be hair BFF’s with Bobby Dall, the only brunette in Poison. Us non-blondes have to stick together gurrrrl friend! I mean, boy friend! I mean, guy with black hair and mascara!
- At the 2009 Tony Awards, when my baby got busted in the head by a stage prop during his Rock Of Ages performance I would have been by his side at the hospital trying my hardest not to laugh at the hilarious footage of his accident.
- Since my boo won "Celebrity Apprentice," we would be friends with Donald Trump. I have The Donald over for dinner and give him advice on how to not be an arrogant Republican douche and teach him that “huge” is not pronounced “uge.”
- I’d have to pretend we weren’t together so that Bret could film "Rock Of Love." Fine he’s dipping his (my) weiner in strippers, but it’s a paycheck and we need the money for my lip injections and boob job.
- I’d know what’s under the bandana. But I would never tell.
This story does, however, have a happy ending: I got to meet Bret and reveal my true feelings, 10 years later, when I made it backstage at the Poison/Warrant tour.
They were coming to town and nostalgia forced me to get tickets for me and my pal Margot.
You know that feeling you get when you bump into an old boyfriend, and your stomach drops, and your hearts beats a little faster and the feelings of passion and lust you had for them briefly come rushing back and for a moment?
Well take that feeling and multiply it by 100, minus the "moving on" part. Yeah That’s how I felt when Bret Michaels, the love of my life sang "Fallen Angel" to me again (I swear!).
I don't remember much after that -- I think maybe I actually blacked out. All I know is that I turned to Margot, said I’d be right back, and started running madly all over the arena asking everyone and anyone wearing an all-access pass how I could get one too. "Pleasssssse someone help me! I need to get back stage, it’s now or never!" Really! Seriously!
Then an angel, a fallen angel, spoke: “I can get you backstage to meet Poison.”
"Who... are you?" I asked, as I fought back tears
"Doug, Bret's cousin. Meet me here after the show."
Cousins!? I thought. I wonder if Doug will be in our wedding party?!
When the show ended, I dragged Margot down to meet Doug at the designated meeting spot. Doug and his nameless tall, mute sidekick accompanied us backstage. Actually it was less of a back stage than a tour bus loading area with women in their 40s patiently waiting in controlled lines to get an autograph.
Where was the cocaine? Where were the topless women getting Jack Daniels poured down their chests? Where was the hard rock?
Regardless, this was wasn’t about partying -- it was about me and Bret. But just as it was finally, finally my turn to speak to him -- I lost it. I officially freaked the fuck out.
At first I hardly spoke, and then I began to spill: I actually told him how awesome he was. In fact, I said the word awesome repeatedly. Every other word I said was "awesome." In the history of the word awesome, no one has abused it’s usage as much as I had that evening.
Bret allowed me a moment to gush and he said to me something I had been waiting so long to hear: “You’re beautiful.”
Before I could properly absorb the moment, someone yelled “Cheese!”, took our photo, and shuffled me away. But I would not be so easily deterred.
After a solid 20 minutes of nauseating regret over the whole awesome fiasco, I convinced Doug to bring me back to Bret’s bus after all the subordinate fans left. Upon entering the tour bus Bret offered me a beer, but I made some lame joke about being too stoned to drink and then began laughing uncontrollably at my own delightful wit. Once I stopped giggling and snorting, I sat down, and Bret took time out of his fabulously wild rock stardom to talk to me and Margot.
Of course Margot, who was NOT meeting her soul mate, was totally cool. She asked Bret questions about guitars and horseback riding. I on the other hand blurted out, "So what’s your favorite color? I think fuchsia is just awesome."
Then I asked if he remembered my letter. Bret just laughed, thinking I was kidding.
Then, I knew, it was time to leave. It was probably for the best.
Because, had I stayed, for all I know, Bret could have actually fallen in love with me. And then I probably wouldn’t be writing about it, or writing at all, because I’d be so busy touring with my talented, wealthy husband and running my fingers through his long, luscious hair.
So all is as it was meant to be. I love being an unstable actress/comedian and freelance writer without a savings account. And at least I did get to meet my childhood crush, which, mortifying as it was, did prove to me that teenage dreams can, and do, (sort of) come true.