Annette was 70 when she died; she would have been 13 or 14 when I first saw her on The Mickey Mouse Club. She was perky, she sang well, she wasn't my sister. Many of my third grade male friends noticed her right away. I'm not sure what heterosexual sex ideas are like for third graders. I didn't inately know what Annette's appeal was to my friends, but they talked about her leeringly, much as I'd later hear Eric Idle talk in the "Wink Wink Nudge Nudge" bit on Monty Python.
For myself, I wanted to spend the summer on the ranch with Spin. I wasn't sure why, but I knew we'd be friends and, since I already knew how to ride a horse, I could help him with the new guys. Or I could lean against the corral fence and wonder why he looked so flipping wonderful in a white T-shirt. Maybe we could even share a sleeping bag when the two of us camped out.
A couple of the girls in my class thought Karen and Cubby were cute together, although they never seemed to talk about Cubby by himself. I was good with Cubby. Bobby interested me when he danced. The Hardy boys were smart and cute. None of the girls talked about Spin, which pleased me, because it meant I wouldn't have to compete for his attention.
I was not at all pleased with the storyline that had the girls move in to a nearby camp. I knew they were actors, I knew it was a story, and in a way I knew that they had to introduce the neighboring girls to widen the story's appeal. But I was pissed off at Annette. Did she really have to be in that? She was a good as a Mouseketeer; she most certainly did not have to branch out in her duties, as far as I was concerned. I thought she'd be good as Darlene Gillespie's friend in something, although I wasn't sure why. But I wanted Spin all to myself; girls always get in the way.
On the other hand, I did enjoy her singing, and when she started her recording career, I wound up buying many of her 45s. She wasn't worth the money for an LP, but I could justify buying her 45s.
And then her movie career began. It's not that all was forgiven for hogging Spin, but I did like her new shirtless friends on the beach. I recall a discussion with my sister (with my mother listening in either amusement or confusion) on the relative dreamboatiness of Paul Anka and Fabian. My sister thought Paul Anka was the dreamboat; I much preferred Fabian. So, Annette may have played bingo on the beach blankets with Paul Anka, but his friends looked more like Fabian. Some of them already had fur. The good thing about Annette was that she still had a squeaky clean reputation. This meant I could go to Annette's movies and enjoy the 50-foot high hunks with no suspicions from my mother.
So, thank you Annette. We may have had our earlier differences, but I appreciate your helping me out in my later teens.
OMG. Does that sound like Suddenly, Last Summer? Where's my shrink?