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Childhood Relics: From Your Biggest Swimfan

Mandy reads responses to her tweenage fan mail for the first time. Can YOU figure out the objects of her swimfandom?

Childhood Relics: From Your Biggest Swimfan

SAY WHAT!? The holidays are already OVER?! (Unless you're one of those jerks who are off until next week, in which case: I HATE YOU. Oh, but I'd like you to keep reading, so uhh I LOVE YOU.) Aside from mourning the week/fortnight/season/life pass to eat, drink, and be merry, let us gather for the passing of mail season.

I'm not just talking about the holiday shopping bills that will surely reduce me to blubbering tears -- like, FUN mail! Which is only second to its homophonic counterpart as the best thing to appear on your doorstep.

See? It IS fun!

Which brings me to another kind of ending: the conclusion of my exploitation of my childhood stroll down memory lane. This finale combines my aforementioned favourite thing with surely great blackmail fodder for my friends and family: FAN MAIL.

Elvis, Elvis, let me be! Keep that pelvis far from me!

(For the Youngs out there, that's when we pioneers of swimfandom would flip to the back of Bop Magazine to get the mailing address of our favourite celebs. Then the Pony Express would carry to them our declarations of love, written with chisels upon stone tablets.)

It's a dying art form, as research would probs tell me. (But researchers! Why would you bother with the science of fan mail? Go solve cancer! Or invent a pair of warm dress pants that I can wear to work.) After all, why send fan mail when it's so easy just to beg for your favourite celeb for a retweet? Plus: stamps ain't free, and licking envelopes is gross. (I use water or glue, so apologies to recipients of my mail who were expecting dried saliva.)

I have only ever (and will ever) sent two fan letters. Since I foolishly did not foresee analyzing my swimfan mail correspondence on a YA site, I don't actually remember what I wrote in my own letters. Howevs, whatever I wrote 1) didn't register as a red flag, and 2) warranted responses from BOTH swimfan subjects! But, um, by the time they arrived, I had grown so mortified by my actions that I never actually opened them.


I don't send to no scrub. A scrub is a guy that can't get no mail from me.

As you turn your brains back on after the holidays, I'm going to make you work a little. (Or, you know, check back in when someone else does it for you.) To delay further embarrassing relevations from my past, it's up to YOU to figure out who I swimfanned!

Some hints that apply to both cases:

•  I had/have a weakness for prettyboy douchebags. While I'm sure the real guys are respectful citizens of moral character, The Actor portrayed one, and The Main Guy from The Band may be perceived as one.

•  I'm 99% confident that you would at least recognize The Band and The Show, so those names will suffice. They ain't in the Pepper Dennis realm of obscurity.

Now put on your Veronica Mars pageboy cap and begin the investigation!

CASE 1: The Actor  SOLVED!
Postmarked 2001 January 05


The Actor was in the main cast of The Show. Not as the main character, but as a significant supporting character. Some alumni of The Show are still pop culturally relevant today (not so much him), both for professional and personal reasons.


... Because I thought he was dreamy? Srsly, I want to know what I wrote. Because what does one write to the child actor* of her dreams?

* Disclaimer: I am younger than him** and therefore was also a child at the time. Please don't put me on a watch list.

** I have a weird memory for useless, random details, so I still remember what his birthday is.

Degree of Burn Swimfandom

(The first draft read like bad, euphemistically confused fan fic. It has since been expunged.)

Once upon a primetime dreary, while I hungered weak and weary, I was watching an episode of The Show when suddenly struck with a craving for Pillsbury Garlic Bread Sticks.

But time was my enemy. Bedtime was nigh and the show was live. I had to act quickly.

I could have waited for a commercial break, but my hunger would not be denied. In my haste, I put the baking pan into the toaster oven without taking my eyes off the TV.

Much like the resulting scar across the top of my left wrist, the impression that The Actor left upon my heart has since faded.

This antecdote pretty much tells you everything that you need to know about me.


As any college-themed movie or TV show will tell you, big envelopes mean good news.

Exhibit 1A: The big envelope, with Hello Kitty jimjams in the background.

So I fibbed when I said I hadn't open either letter. But CAN YOU BLAME ME, it's a big envelope! Though I didn't actually look at them, I discovered that the contents included a typed letter and I GOT AN 8x10 GLOSSY FROM HIM (having other people send it to me)!

Exhibit 1B(i): OMG HE WROTE MY NAME. So he gets the benefit of the doubt that the squiggle contains 'es' and he's not stingy with wishing.

Over the years, this envelope ended up housing other teen idol paraphenalia, so I'll use a photo of one of those instead of the full identity-revealing 8x10 glossy.

Exhibit 1B(ii): THIS crush I will freely and fully admit to. I even watched The Bedford Diaries for him.

As for the letter itself, I... can't find it.

(Well SHIZZ. There goes half of the gimmick for this post.)

Given what I've chosen to keep from my adolescence, I'm not fully convinced that it's been thrown out. But in the interest of speeding things along, let's not wait around for me to clean out my old junk. ("We won't!", say my parents.)

Anyway, from what I remember of the quick sideway glimpses that I allowed myself, it was pretty generic template fare. Def. not the invitation to his mansion that I was hoping for.

CASE 2: The Band  SOLVED!
Postmarked 2004 April 24***

*** Unless it took years to get a reply: WHOA Murtaugh moment, High School Me. You were way too old for that shizz.


The Band had a handful of hits in the U.S., and I'm pretty sure you'd recognize their biggest hit. (Liking it, on the other hand... )

Wiki tells me that they're still active? Well OK then.


Emboldened by my swimfan success with The Actor, I set my sights on another target. Now The Band was and has never been one of my favourites. I was solely motivated by how hot I thought The Main Guy was.

Howevs, I was sensitive to the fact that a lot of fan mail probs went to The Main Guy, so I peppered my letter with questions for the rest of The Band. ("How does bass sound different from guitar? What made you choose it in the first place?")

Degree of Swimfandom

I imagine my relationship with The Band to be much like the supportive girlfriend of someone in a mediocre band. (Because -- come on. I'm neither rockstar spouse nor groupie material.) You listen to all their songs and you REALLY want to like them, but most of it is not your style and the earlier stuff is just not good at all. But you try to like it anyway, because you're super weirdly loyal and you WILL NOT be an unsupportive Yoko!


Just a standard No. 10 envelope -- boooo-urns. And I never read Dr. Seuss when I was in the target age demo, so the whimsical stamps don't curry any favours with me.

Exhibit 2A: Size matters.

Remember what I said about the douchebag perception? There was a temporary tattoo, you guys. Again, I can't show it, so here are some Hello Kitty decals.

Exhibit 2B: The temporary tat was of the band name/logo.

And now, onto the main event! There are TWO pages. This might make up for the lack of big envelope!


Our Fan Club is taking off. Members are joining from around the globe!! International and American members are very excited to The Club feature of exclusive video of the band live/backstage etc. that will bring you to see another side of band not seen anywhere else!

HOLD UP -- THIS is what I feared waited to open for eight years? I POURED MY HEART AND SOUL IN THAT LETTER**** and their peeps couldn't even bother to proofread their manifesto for shameless money grabbing?!

**** OK, obvs not really. But compared to the response I got, my effort was Herculean.

Among the goodies that I would have gotten for the low, low price of $30 ($35 internationally) for the first year (!?) fee to The Club:

•  An 8x10 glossy of The Band (oh, you mean like the one I got for FREE from The Actor's publicist?!)
•  "Current Album Biography on high quality paper!" (I just needed you to read that as it was originally intended.)
•  Fan Club membership card
•  Bumper sticker
•  Official guitar pick set -- "with each members name on each"
•  More exclusive temporary tattoos (Hooray!)
•  "Limited edition [The Band] drink coaster while supplies last! Some might be autographed by [The Main Guy] himself!"

OMG I'm so glad I broke up with you. We are never ever ever getting back together.


So, detectives: now that you have the facts, who are your prime suspects? (And TRUST, they're nowhere nearly as awesome as Helen Mirren. Or even, in the case of The Band, Maria Bello's fedora.)

First correct guesses win... my respect? My borderline Hoarders hold on my stuff means I've no swag to give. (Plus, I have like 40 books that I haven't even begun to read yet. So I'm not just being a Scrooge McDuck.) But if you want, I'll mail you a swimfan treatment of your very own! Actually BETTER than the real deal, since it'd be written on Asian anime stationery! Decorated with stickers! And, um, the Milo poster? Or a themed mixtape/CD? (Don't worry, my musical tastes have since evolved. Ish.)

My mom overestimated my popularity as a pen pal.

If you don't have early-2000s pop culture knowledge to put to use (or you're not in the market for mail from someone with a history of questionable celebrity crushes), perhaps you've a fan mail story to share? Misery loves company and I need company, y'all.


(Hint: The Show was a sitcom featuring teens playing teens, and it even won some awards. And not like, Teen Choice or some shizz -- EGOT-calibre awards. But not for the kids, obvs.)
Boy Meets World
Dawson's Creek
(any incarnation)
Even Stevens
Gilmore Girls
Home Improvement
My So-Called Life
Saved By the Bell (any incarnation)
That '70s Show

(Hint: WOW The Band has been around longer than I have been alive, i.e. 1986. I... have issues. Anyway, they only really hit big time in the late '90s. My fan mail pretty much caught them on the downswing.) 
30 Seconds To Mars
Simple Plan
Sum 41


Justin Berfield from Malcolm In the Middle
(I love the contingent of commentors who associated Hawaiian shirt = Pacey Witter)

Sugar Ray (please take note of the stationery.)

Mandy Wan's photo About the Author: Residing in Edmonton, AB, Mandy unabashedly loves YA lit, frozen desserts, and terrible puns.