Something wonderful happened earlier this month, allowing me to relive my junior high days. I’m not sure why I would want to, though. Netflix informed me of new TV arrivals, including a show I hadn’t seen in years: The Wonder Years.
Kennedy Jr. High.
Kevin Arnold, Paul Pfeiffer.
Sweet, beautiful in the-girl-next-door sort of way Winnie Cooper.
I was chatting with a friend and told him of The Wonder Years’ arrival to Netflix, and his eyes immediately glazed over as he softly uttered, “Winnie Cooper.” It took awhile for him to return to our conversation. I allowed him the reverie.
What was it about her that enraptured us 12-year-olds? There were certainly other girls on the show who were prettier and who’d … uh, developed a little more. She was somewhat uninteresting with no outstanding traits — ordinary, really. She was so quiet, her voice almost a whisper, except when she got mad — “Kevin!” — which made her even more attractive, those dark eyes narrowing. Wasn’t she every girl I knew in class?
The one who sat in front of me in history, behind me in English, a couple rows over in algebra. Perhaps I admired Kevin Arnold because he had a friend like Winnie, whereas I could barely speak to the girls who sat near me. He shared hours of conversation with her, while I would replay on the bus home that briefest of moments when the girl in front of me turned around to pass back handouts.
I’d been admiring her hair. It’s luster. The smell of exotic fruit. The clip that held some strands. Our eyes had met for 3/10s of a second. “Thanks,” I’d mustered.
He was no James Dean — not that I knew then who he was — but Kevin Arnold in some sense had the girl, and I cowered in the presence of one. Yes, he was my hero, and she the desire of my pubescent heart.
What fond memories.
Thank you, Netflix. Thank you. I will gladly allow you to continue debiting $7.99 from the account of a 34-year-old man reliving the wonder of Winnie Cooper, which might be just slightly creepy. (Perhaps I shouldn’t hit “publish.”)