As a child in the 1980’s and 90’s, I had front row seats to view such Hollywood romantic masterpieces as The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful, St. Elmo’s Fire, Dirty Dancing, and my favorite, Say Anything. While, I didn’t actually see these movies at the theater because I was just a little too young when they were initially released, and my parents just weren’t “those kind of parents” to bring their young daughters to PG-13 movies, by the 6th grade, my older friends and I were spending our weekends at Castle Video, renting them. I’m not too proud to admit that I didn’t understand just how much “trouble” Penny was in, why she got so sick and why Dr. Houseman had to come help her, probably until I was closer to college age. In any case, these movies formed the foundation of my romantic sensibilities, far more than any Bronte novel I ever read. And they probably ruined me for any guy who would ever attempt to start a relationship with me.
The problem with Lloyd Dobbler, once I discovered him, was (besides being a fictional character - let’s not get too technical, people) was the expectation he created in me that somewhere out there, there was a guy pining away for me. Like Diane Court, I was a smart kid in school and kind of socially out of the loop most of my four years. I was ambitious and my level of activity and number of extra-curriculars kept me from spending weekends with classmates at field parties. I had my pockets of good friends and we had some amazing times. We went to a small high school. My graduating class had less than 200 kids in it by June of 1994 when I stood at the podium in the sticky auditorium to give my graduation speech. But as I headed into the summer before college, I couldn’t help but think I missed out on that quintessential right of passage of teenagers; that kick ass, blow out, Dazed and Confused level party in the woods, where I finally get to make out and fall in love with “him.”
Beyond missing out on what I thought was a social, teenaged required event, my lifelong call to Lloyd Dobbler seems to have gone unanswered. What do I mean? I don’t mean the “go big or go home” actions - my ex husband decided our engagement, something I fantasized about for years would be this romantic, personal and private event, should be shared with almost 400 attendees of the Mystic Highland Robert Burns Supper. It was special TO HIM, but it was mortifying to me. And I’m a theater geek - I live in the spotlight! But not my romantic self. My romantic self wants you to come to my door on Christmas Eve with signs made, telling me you will love me until you die. “To me you’re perfect.”
Lloyd Dobbler fell in love with the brain, Diane, and even when she pushed him away, he parked outside her house with his boom box (remember those? Yeah, you’re old too) blasting “In Your Eyes.” Diane made Lloyd feel loved and accepted, and he did the same for her. And at the end, when the 80’s romantic teen movie plot-template allowed them to reunite after a tumultuous break up, we watched Lloyd dedicate himself to Diane and head to England with her so she could pursue her Fellowship. Ahh, sigh.
For me, the problem with Lloyd has always been that I know he exists. Some of my dearest friends have found and married their Lloyd. In fact, I knew some of them all the way back in high school. I’d watch closely as they would gaze at my girlfriends. My favorite “Lloyd and Diane” have been together for 30 years now. They went through their share of drama and break ups and agony over the early years, but they were always a team and still are.
I had my own Lloyd during my senior year of high school. Still my favorite boyfriend to this day. We weren’t right for each other in the end, but he is a wonderful human who has a beautiful family, which makes me happy to see. So I know there are Lloyds out there or guys with Lloyd potential, at the very least. And please no one read this post and show up at my door with a boom box and a John Legend song or something. I will seriously punch you in the privates.
Lloyd is so much bigger than just the grand gesture, although that would be nice. Lloyd is the love who fights for you, who shows you how smart and beautiful you are when you feel like a pile of crap. Lloyd is the guy who shows up when you’re falling apart and falling on the floor and lifts you up. He feels good when you feel good. He’s the romantic hero. I know he’s going to call me from the bathroom one of these days. The problem with Lloyd is maybe he doesn’t know he’s Lloyd.