Love Letter to Brandon Walsh by Daniel Romo

I had a man crush on you before I was a man, a high school senior
stuck in between popping pimples and failing math, because even
though you just moved  to a new school, still dripping in Minnesota
loveliness, turquoise eyes sharper than the depths of every Great
Lake combined, you became the big man on campus, while even
my teachers had trouble remembering my name. You were older
than me in real-life, but on the show, you were a junior when I was
a senior, yet I admired you as if I were a lowly freshman, because
you were my reliable Thursday night prime-time respite from a
social-life relegated to early-morning reruns. I watched the popular
kids, athletes and scholars and significant others who stood in a
lunchtime circle exchanging teenage banter like they were born to
speak a language I couldn’t understand, a set of words reserved
for kids who could decipher the right way to stand, simultaneously
looking interested and aloof, while I watched, anonymously, from
the sidelines. My freshly-cultivated sideburns weren’t as sharp as
yours, lacking the dagger-esque edge that helped you bed the
hottest chicks in class, didn’t possess the organic depth to acquire
friendship and sex with the Kelly Taylors of the school, no backseat
make out excursions to Mulholland. How I even would’ve been
happy to simply cruise home after school in your ‘65 Stang instead
of walking home each day as quickly as I could, head down
examining each step as if the embarrassment of eye contact with
classmates’ passing cars equaled a social suicide akin to directly
jumping in front of them. And when I no longer walked that shame-
laden path, graduated and went off to junior college, you repeated
junior year, despite a 4.0 GPA and I felt betrayed by the execs
who decided it was better for you to be exposed to a larger
audience for an extra season, rather than move forward with me, 
the security of knowing you were only a step behind. When you
left the show, I left the show, too, because the rest of the cast
were actors I never bothered to believe in. Sometimes I hum your
theme song, a montage of moments spliced together in my mind
from your first two seasons, because those were the best ones, 
and relive my days of fanhood and the cusp of manhood, of
memorizing and wanting to change every inch of insecurity.
Brandon Walsh, I had a man crush on you, but I wouldn’t have
fit in with your rich-kid clique, wouldn’t had blended in with adults
playing children, children playing adults, because I was an adolescent
destined to live in the suburbs and shadows of my own area code.

Daniel Romo is the author of When Kerosene's Involved (Mojave River Press, 2014) and Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013). His poetry and photography can be found in The Los Angeles Review, Gargoyle, MiPOesias, Yemassee, and elsewhere. He lives in Long Beach, CA and at