How had I never noticed this before?
And how long had this been going on?
Maybe I should explain . . .
I was at the movies.
Something the kids in my family did at least once a week.
The highlight of said week.
This particular picture was a western.
But something was different this time.
Oh, there were the usual items of interest.
Lots and lots of horses.
And I think there were cattle also.
But for the first time, I noticed that there were also . . . cowboys.
When did they get there?
One cowboy, in particular, caught my attention.
Black-haired and lithe.
Slim and well-muscled.
And oh-so-delicious in jeans and boots.
No wonder people liked westerns so much.
And I had thought they came, like me, to see the horses.
I was glued to the screen every time he appeared.
Which proved to be frequent.
Being as he was the star of the picture.
I was so enraptured that I didn't follow much of the story.
Oh, there were a couple of noteworthy parts.
One, in particular, featured one of the secondary cowboys being captured by bad guys and then creatively tortured with cactus needles within earshot of his buddies.
The next morning, his badly abused body was dropped in the middle of their camp.
I will admit it. It made me sick.
For two days.
But even that horrifying scene couldn't dim the splendour of my new hero as he saved the day.
I watched eagerly for his name to be mentioned in the end credits.
I said the name over and over.
Committing it to memory.
Then I headed home.
“Mom, did you know that there are really cute guys in movies?”
My Mom stared at me. “Umm . . . yes,” she said, rather cautiously.
This was a new topic of conversation for me and I'm sure she was wondering where I was going with it.
“Well, the movie I just saw starred the cutest guy ever!” I said enthusiastically.
“Oh, yes,” I said. “His name was Audie Murphy! Oh, Mom he was soooo cute!”
“Audie Murphy? THE Audie Murphy?”
“Oh.” I frowned. “Have you seen the picture?”
Mom laughed. “No,” she said. “But I used to drool over Audie Murphy when I was your age!”
Now it was my turn to stare. “Really?”
“Oh, I was so in love with him!”
“Huh,” I said and headed for my room.
My mom had been – had been – in love with my hero when she was my age?
He was . . . old?
I never saw my new/old hero again.
I think the movie I had seen was his last.
Newer, younger heroes took his place in my world.
Heroes that my Mom had never dreamed about.
But, oddly enough, at this end of my life, it's Audie Murphy that I think of when someone mentions their screen heartthrobs.
I guess it's true.
First love is always the sweetest.