A Nerdy Crush Never Says Die

As hard as it is to believe given almost everything I’ve written, not all my crushes are fox-based or from the ‘90s. My mom often just recycled a lot of what my older brother liked with me. Dwayne liked ‘Oliver and Company,’ so will kid #2. The same goes with ‘Star Wars’ and the basis of today’s crush, ‘The Goonies.’ 

She was almost always right because if you couldn’t grow up in the ‘90s, the pop culture of the ‘80s was the next best thing. I can’t remember the age at which she first popped ‘The Goonies’ in the VCR – which was likely to get me to stop bothering her – but I do remember being instantly enamored. I wasn’t just in love with the idea of a group of outcasts having the ultimate adventure with a pirate tale involved, but also the nerdy asthmatic leader, Mikey. 

This ragtag group of kids was like a boy band of sorts with someone for everyone and while Mouth had my heart as well, there was something that always made me lean more towards Mikey. Perhaps it was because he was the nice boy who, when push came to shove, could inspire the hell out of his friends while at the bottom of a well with nothing but felons behind, and the hope of a better tomorrow in front.

Years went by before I’d see who Mikey grew up to be and damn, Sean Astin really got to be in one of the most iconic movies of the ‘80s, then went on to be in ‘Lord of the Rings’ AND ‘Stranger Things.’ Hats off to him and his career, but I’ll always revert to my elementary school self when I think of him with an inhaler in hand. He wasn’t just a stereotypical nerd with breathing issues. He was also just a weirdo with friends that matched his energy. He wasn’t a cool kid – at all. That was made pretty clear by the way Troy reacts to them every single time he’s on-screen with any of them. Side note: the Duffer brothers really should’ve worked to get Steve Antin to play Jason Carver’s dad. He could’ve screamed, “JASON!” while standing next to a well, and everything. Oh well, maybe drop that as a flashback scene in the fifth and final season. 

Mikey will always have a special place in my heart, and I think aside from him being a cute underdog, what he gave me as a kid was one of the first instances where I rooted for those types of characters. Of course, Robin Hood made me champion the poor (mostly because I lived in a town as rundown as Nottingham under Prince John’s rule). Mikey and his friends though represented the weirdos, the kids that weren’t necessarily going to be on top of the food chain. In the ‘80s the nerds were very apparent and in recent years we’ve seen this get flipped-turned upside down in shows like ‘Bel-Air’ and even ‘Never Have I Ever’ with Devi and Ben being nerds with social lives, as awkward as they may be sometimes. 

Back then though, I was a school-loving nerd with little to no “cool” representation. We had Urkel and his ass invented a whole ass machine to be suave. Oh, and Jessi Spano but she was hopped up on caffeine pills. Was I supposed to admire an addict? Kidding! Jessi was a badass, but she wasn’t on the outside looking in like Mikey. 

This week we’ll be exploring other nerdy crushes, two in fact with my guest Miller C. Lashbrook the host of ‘Pop Culture Fae.’ Stay tuned for Miller’s pair of nerdy crushes, and more…

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