The best thing about having a secret crush on someone is that they are, as the name would imply, secret.
Except, of course, when they aren’t anymore.
When you are a shy, awkward kid, it helps to have “secret crushes.” It’s even easier when you are young and your secret crush is a celebrity. When you are too scared to approach someone in whom you might be interested and actually lives in your same zip code, it helps when they live thousands of miles away and the chances of them finding out about your crush is infinitesimal. There’s no chance of your heart getting broken when you don’t have to risk putting yourself and your emotions out there with the possibility of that love going unrequited.
(I’ve paid a lot of money in therapy over the years to have this explained to me).
In any event, as someone who didn’t have his first kiss until he was almost 22 (I’m not kidding), I filled much of my youth and adolescence with celebrity crushes. I had quite a few of them — from Topanga on “Boy Meets World” to Andrea Zuckerman on “Beverly Hills, 90210)” — but ultimately, my first crush, and the I’ve for whom I’ve carried the torch the longest, was always Nellie Oleson on “Little House on the Prairie.”
Wait a minute … Nellie Oleson?
Seriously … Nellie Oleson?
If you ever watched “Little House on the Prairie” (which, for my money, remains one of the most entertaining shows in television history), you likely are making the same face Almanzo made when Laura Ingalls made cinnamon chicken for he and Nellie, but substituted chili powder for cinnamon to sabotage their romantic dinner.
And even if you aren’t a big enough fan of the show catch that reference, you probably can’t believe my choice in “Little House” crushes. Most of the “Little House” fans I’ve ever met who had crushes either were in love with Laura or her sister Mary. Heck, some even would have taken Miss Beadle over Nellie.
Not me … I was always a Nellie guy.
Most people were turned off by the fact that Nellie Oleson was, to put in the nicest terms (and the ones most befitting this family publication), a nasty, spoiled-rotten brat. This, of course, is probably a big part of the reason I loved her so much when I was a kid. I myself was a nasty, spoiled-rotten brat. Nellie Oleson was my spirit animal.
Not to mention, she actually made things on the show interesting. Every great television show needs a great antagonist. Nellie was the best of the best when it came to stirring the pot in Walnut Grove. I’m sorry, but the saccharine-sweet storylines featuring “Half-pint” and the mawkish Ingalls clan would have grown awfully tiresome after about three episodes had it not been for Nellie. I mean, there’s only so many blizzards and typhus outbreaks the Ingalls family can survive and remain watchable.
Nellie had depth of character. She had gravitas. She also had the most magnificent curls I’ve ever seen.
Oh, those curls.
In any event, as you can tell, I fell pretty hard for Nellie Oleson, to the point I’ve felt the need to include her from time to time in my weekly column. I mentioned her in passing in last week’s column, as a matter of fact.
That’s when Nellie Oleson found out.
OK, so Nellie didn’t actually find out, but Alison Arngrim, the talented actress who played Nellie Oleson on “Little House on the Prairie,” did. And then she let me know she did.
Apparently Arngrim receives Google alerts any time a news article mentions her or Nellie Oleson by name. She found my column, read my column, was at least moderately amused by my column and then Tweeted at me about my column.
And that’s the point at which a secret crush becomes not-so secret.
To her credit, Arngrim was very gracious about my crush (as was my amazing wife, who has long been amused by my Nellie Oleson infatuation) and not nearly as creeped out as she probably should have been. Sharing a Twitter exchange with her — and finally being able to admit my secret crush to the actual object of affection — not only was the highlight of my week, but a very liberating experience.
Thank you for your time, Miss Nellie. I’m sure you’ll be seeing this.
Troy’s very own David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Miami Valley Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong.