Idol gossip

Remember how Sally looked at Linus? That crinkly smile oozing across her face and red hearts popping out of her blonde, Bozo hairdo? She wouldn't have noticed that blanket if he strangled her with it. She was gone. She had herself a crush.

Even at 6 years old I was a worldlier woman than Sally, but no amount of armor could have prepared me, or the world, for the living cupid's arrow that was David Cassidy. When he showed up on "The Partridge Family" in 1970, we all turned into Sally, hearts popping, eyes soldered to this teen-age boy. There may be desire lurking behind the screams that greet Leonardo DiCaprio, the Spice Girls and the Backstreet Boys, but they're all like the class geeks compared to David.

And there is no crush as charmed as the teen idol crush. You never have to fear turning into a simpering boob when they say "Hello," never have to worry about becoming a member of the one-digit IQ crowd in front of the only person in the world you want to impress. You're never going to meet them.

So you think.

So you think.

Meet and greet

Twenty-eight years later, without having to fill out a form in Tiger Beat that makes me say in 25 words or less why I should get to, I am going to meet David Cassidy. He's at Planet Hollywood to promote his new CD, "Old Trick, New Dog," which contains three dolled-up versions of Partridge Family songs, and to meet winners of a radio contest who knew Cassidy trivia: Did he have an affair with Meredith Baxter-Birney? (Yes.) Was his sister his manager? (He doesn't have a sister.) I've interviewed celebrities and have had more crushes than pairs of shoes by now, so I figure I'm beyond the idiot stage and can handle this blithely.

But that's the thing with crushes. Even dusty ones. When the object of your crush is around, only half your brain works. The other half is stoned on the most powerful drug there is: pheromones.

At Planet Hollywood, we achieve a proximity to the star that would make many girls fall in a heap like a narcoleptic bag of laundry. I'm with my friend Doug, who was 1 year old when David hit the small screen and says to me, "You should tell him how much you loved him on ‘The Hardy Boys.'"

Suddenly he appears, adorable as ever, in his mid-40s looking better than most of my friends in their early 30s. The smile hasn't changed. When he steps offstage I keep turning to see where he's gone, as if my neck is on a door spring. Asked if I'd like an interview, I jump out of that chair like the Road Runner, nothing in my wake but two lines and a cloud.

David is gregarious and conversational, casual about a type of attention that would have most of us hiding behind a garbage can in the kitchen. He talks about his longevity in the business, which he attributes to the quality of and conviction in his work, plus, he says, "I've never done anything to disgrace or embarrass myself" (true if you don't count the tell-all book, "Come On, Get Happy: Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus," in which he writes, "Sex was just sex. ... It presented itself to me numerous times during the course of the day, and I could take advantage of it or not . ... I was 21 years old, my dick was always hard, and they were all so willing," and which is recommended reading for anyone who ever possessed a photo ripped out of a magazine that had the words, "Love, Keith," scrawled across it). We talk about his VH-1 bio, which garnered the channel's highest ratings, how he wants to do more Broadway, how he loves his current Vegas gig. After about 10 minutes he's whisked away. But not before the dress thing.

Touch and go

I am standing with a fellow reporter who remarks that my '70s daisy-print dress is appropriate for the occasion. "Yeah, that's nice," David says, and touches it. At least I think he did; I'm too stoned on either star power or the star to be certain. But I have an idea how Monica Lewinsky felt. I have to retire this dress now, like they retire the star player's jersey, because nothing can match what's already happened while wearing it.

That may seem sad, but it's quite the opposite. Crushes that can turn life into the cotton candy dream we all really wish it were are incredibly lucky things to get. In David's presence, Doug said I looked like a baby in front of a mobile.

I know. I don't care. It's not the manufactured Partridge schmaltz but the torch songs of k.d. lang that I hear: My old addiction/Changed the wiring in my brain/So that when it turns the switches/Then I am not the same.

And I'm better off for it. I've met another of the men of my dreams. And now I know you can have a pheromone flashback.


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