I'm participating in Mama Kat's writer's workshop. I chose to use the prompt Look up a favorite childhood actor and tell us where they are now:
One of my favourite parts of the day in elementary school was when the teacher read to us. In grade five Mr. Jansen introduced us to S.E. Hinton and her novel The Outsiders. It changed me. The whole experience affirmed my already growing love affair with reading.
The silent rapt attention of the class while he read a few chapters each Friday afternoon, the exhilaration of hearing our teacher talk of things so unorthodox in our Catholic school environment, while he opened up a world where the poor kids known as Greasers fought to keep their turf and dignities intact against the rich and privileged soc's (short for socials) gave me joy. I remember the excitement with which we would all discuss the chapters we had just heard on our walks home, trying to figure out who amongst us would be considered Greasers and Soc's.
The following summer I borrowed a copy of the book from the library and read it again even memorizing some of the passages and the Robert Frost poem Stay Gold*. I can recite it by heart to this day:
Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
And dawn goes down to dayy
Nothing gold can stay.
In grade six our family moved all the way to Tucson Arizona. It was a devastating and difficult move but I found enormous comfort when Hollywood came out with the movie version of The Outsiders. That I was seemingly half away across the world and yet this beloved story was known there too, eased the pain of leaving behind my friends and school.
It was when I fell in love for the first time. He was the lead character in the movie, Ponyboy Curtis, and the actor's name was C. Thomas Howell. To me, he was Ponyboy, I made no distinction between the character and actor. I wrote his name on all of my notebooks, and there was always an I love T.H (Tom Howell) at the top of every note I passed to friends. I used my allowance and babysitting money to buy any teen magazine he was featured in, and plastered my share of the wall, of the bedroom I shared with my two sisters, with his pictures. I even wrote to him once and received a postcard from his Fanclub Headquarters. It said something like:
Thank you for the letter. Stay Gold. C. Thomas Howell.
His name was a stamped signature but the rest had been written in pen. I was convinced it was directly from him and carried the postcard around in my pencil case showing it to anyone and everyone.
I hadn't thought about Ponyboy in a long time. A few weeks ago I was watching Criminal Minds and there he was, C. Thomas Howell. He was guest starring as the unsub and time had not been kind to his face. He was gaunt and lean, his hair shaved close to his head. There was nothing left of that teen hearthrob I once worshipped.
I guess Robert Frost knew what he was talking about. Nothing gold can stay.
*I googled the poem after I posted this. The title is actually Nothing gold can stay.