I admit: in high school, I was gaga for Wil Wheaton.
Allow me to demonstrate the extent of my affection and devotion to the actor best known for being the much mocked Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was because of that show that I “found” him. I didn’t hate Wesley: I found him sexy. Now, I didn’t start watching ST:TNG when it first aired. I didn’t start watching it until the early 1990s, after it had already been on television for several years.
I can’t tell you how I started watching it, when, or with what episode — but I can tell you I fell for the young Crusher. He was the kind of guy I was looking for in real life: sensitive, smart, hard working, loyal, and not physically domineering – because apparently teenage girls really do not like physically domineering men (ex. all those members of Team Edward). I never found the character annoying, and I still find myself battling my kneejerk reaction to defend him when Wesley mockers speak up. I really liked when he got his black-and-red ensign outfit, and that episode when him and Picard were trapped on that desert planet and the strange alien entity that protected the water and how dirty he got in that cave…
Um, sorry. See, kneejerk reaction.
Anyway, how much did I go gaga over Wil Wheaton?
It was more than just watching all the movies I could find that he was in — by the way, Stand By Me is a very, very good film that everyone should see.
It was more than buying memorabilia that featured him. Which I did. When my school choir performed at Disney World my freshman year of high school, at the store in Tomorrowland, I found this amazing photograph of him, mounted on a plaque, that was from a limited series. It was, if I recall correctly, over a hundred dollars. I thought about it, for a little while, and then I bought it. (I subsequently sold it to someone in Australia via eBay, with a big loss to my pocketbook and a big dollop of embarrassment for past indiscretions.)
Then there was my 16th birthday. A couple of my gal pals conspired to get me a very interesting gift. Sitting at the school cafeteria, they circled around me, and my friend Sandy, one of the best artists in school, slid a drawing across the table-top to me. I think she was grinning devilishly — at least, that’s how I like to remember it. Because the drawing was a very realistic pencil sketch of Wil Wheaton — naked.
Now, I’m pretty sure the nakedness of Wheaton was pure speculation and conjecture, and that Sandy and my friends had not managed to either find a picture of Wheaton naked or to see the man himself in such a state. Because if they did and didn’t tell me about it…
I don’t know what happened to that picture. Honestly. I think I threw it away.
And then there was this laminated assignment:
I found this item this past month when going through all my stuff that had been stored at my parents’ house while I was in Denmark. I do not at all remember writing what appears to have been an assignment for a Spanish class in high school. I definitely do not remember apparently laminating the assignment to save it for posterity. But there it was, amongst a variety of clippings about The X-Files and all the other fandom mementos I’d been saving since high school.
So, for those who don’t speak Spanish, especially poorly written Spanish, here is the translation:
As with many fandoms, the emotional intensity that I felt towards Wil Wheaton did not last for long. I found another love to move unto. Life, after all, is full of them.
When I moved to Los Angeles after college, I met Wil Wheaton at a local science fiction convention. He was shorter than me. Most men are. That basically put the nail in the coffin, but I still admire him. He’s been able to reinvent himself through his fiction writing, his online participation (through his website and Twittering), and his more recent acting gigs, such as the snarky antagonists on Leverage and The Guild.
This reinvention is why I am revisiting my “interest” in him in high school. Had he drifted away into obscurity, or fallen into the traps of drugs or other self-centered hedonistic pursuits, then I would have thrown away any of the mementos I’ve stored all these years. However, his reinvention helps to show something for all geeks and nerds. That adolescence is only a period in life — it does not determine one’s life. It didn’t for Wesley Crusher. It didn’t for Wil Wheaton. And it hasn’t for me.
We’re all capable of reinvention any day that we choose to take it. As part of my reinvention, I’m sharing with you some secrets from my life that I may have, until recently, been embarrassed by; however, now I accept that it was part of me, but not all of me. I’m more than them, but I would have been less without them.
That, and it’s just too damn funny not to share.