Last Fashion Week I found myself at the same party as Justin Bieber. A flock of photographers hovered around him, their flashing lights offering an opportune getaway for models trying to sneak by. Leandra and I stood on heeled tippy-toes to get a better look at him. But where her remark at the small gentleman covered in leather was a nonplussed “Huh,” mine was, “He’s gotten so big!” as if I were his aunt or something.
In the same way that I take on certain celebrities as my imaginary best friends (et hem, Mindy Kaling and I shopping for a Christmas tree together), it’s difficult for me to view grown up child stars without a sense of very personal nostalgia.
Do you remember The Sandlot? It’s probably one of the greatest movies of our time, replete with a cast of boys who I always assumed would grow up to become the men their characters played. They had to — these were scrappy kids who learned seminal lessons through life’s greatest metaphor: baseball. Just recently, though, Yeah Yeah was caught on film acting like a jackass, and friggen’ SMALLS was arrested for head butting a cop.
Though I’m aware that I have grown up since the movie first debuted, it didn’t occur to me until TMZ told me that they could evolve past the Sandlot vacuum. Watching their demise was like watching my children act like idiots, and I felt like I’d failed as a mother.
Which is crazy.
Then I heard about Justin Bieber and his arrest. It seems like people had been predicting this moment since he outgrew his floppy hair and “Baby” fat, foreshadowed by a series of odious events that included peeing into a mop bucket, allegedly drinking sizzurp, and egging a house. The cops didn’t find evidence to back said egging, and sure, if it were true, egging — and peeing in a bucket — are more accurate indications of idiocy than they are a much larger problem but it made me ask the parental question, “Justin. Who are these people you’re hanging out with?”
When people began posting his mug shot from the DUI arrest last week and its accompanying memes — even the one of his head on a jail house orange Prada shift — my immediate instinct was to tell Justin that even though he’d messed up, he was still my little angel. He was grounded for at least a year, but still, angel.
Then last Sunday, there was Gaby Hoffmann’s emotional breakdown on Girls.
I essentially grew up with Gaby — I watched Now and Then almost every day from the year it came out until my VHS irreparably broke. When I saw her on Girls, it was like I’d reconnected with an old friend on Facebook. “We grew up together!,” I wanted to brag.
Then she broke a glass with her bare, bloody hand while standing half naked in front of HBO’s viewership. Only it wasn’t Gaby, or her Girl’s character Caroline — it was Samantha. My childhood friend. With her vagina out. On HBO.
But I was shocked, I realized, not because the scene reminded me that robust pubic hair is rare on cable television but because it meant she’d grown up. And that meant that I didn’t actually know her at all.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Duh,” but I still can’t seem to pinpoint exactly why I feel so connected to these people. We don’t watch celebrities grow up any more closely than our parents’ coworkers who remember us when we were this big do. So why is it that we’re always shocked when they get a little bit taller?
I’m still rooting for Lindsay.