Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Story - Growing up vs the Peter Pan complex

You know how Peter Pan never grew up... I'm having the same issues myself. I'm hoping I'll ditch them after tonight when the Rugby League World Cup final is done and I can ditch my obsession (I'm sure you're all hoping for the same!) but I'm a bit worried. Let me explain...

Some years ago, an in-law fell in love, which isn't too strange but he was in his 70s and so was his new love. It was an uncomfortable courtship for those of us watching. It was like a teenage romance with lots of giggling, hand holding, kissing and other public displays of affection.

I struggled to understand how love didn't mature and how they still acted like teenagers at such an advanced age. I talked to my dad about this, and he wisely pointed out that the last time they both fell in love, they were teenagers (they'd both lost their long-term partner only in recent years). So this way of loving was all they knew and you revert to what you know.

It sounded like a sane reason and I bought it even if I didn't understand it.

Moving right along.

In my early teenage years I was totally infatuated by Peter Sterling, a football player. Every article on him, I collected. I bought magazines he was in. I saw every game I could. I wrote tortured poetry. I'd take my sister (younger than me and cute) to collect autographs, or I'd just stare at him, because I was so captivated. I wanted to know him, be near him, be his. But he was a superstar and I, a nobody. He was mid twenties and I a teen. I loved from afar. I never met him and then he was injured and retired. I had a friend who gave him my tortured poetry, which almost made me die of embarrassment, and I received an autograph and note which I treasured for years (and probably still have).

Cue thirty years.

I'm no longer a lusting teenager. I'm married. I've been around a bit and know a lot more about life and love. I've had lots more infatuations with superstars that came and went but none like that one with Sterlo (oh, and now he commentates on TV and yes, my heart still flutters!).

In 2012 something happened. I watched Cooper Cronk play the grand final. I'd seen him play before on television and also in previous grand finals, live. Nothing about his play made a huge impact on me until this game.

Maybe it's because I was writing and thinking about stories that I thought more, I don't know. I just know something happened during that game. I was infatuated by how he played. Infatuated by his legs, his hands, his passing, his direction of the play. I wondered how you'd meet someone like that...and I invented a story, Deep Diving.

To flesh out my hero in my story, I began to hunt around on the Internet for information on Cooper Cronk. I merged the information I found with my imagination to create my hero. In doing so, I lost the ability to separate fact and fiction and somehow I took myself back to my teenage obsession. Except this time with Cooper Cronk (poor man).

In the last thirty years there has become so much more fodder available for a 'stalker' like me. There's Google, but also twitter, Facebook, Instagram, tumblr, et cetera, et cetera. And not just information on him, by him and about him. You can 'stalk' teammates and you might get the tiniest sliver of information about him.

And yes, I do know that if I started really young (probably when I was lusting after my previous footy guy) I could be his mother. I know I'm too old to do this. But oh my god, the world is teaching me a lesson... I've  reverted to my teenage self.

Just the other night when I was up until 4am to watch a football game he was in. He scored a try sliding flat on his stomach...just like Peter Sterling in the 1986 Kangaroo team.

Cooper Cronk has merged with Peter Sterling in my head. And since I still have feelings for Sterlo so long later, I wonder if in my 70s I'm going to do this again. Oh lord, I don't think I can handle that! Creepy enough now. I'm creeping myself out.

But as my dad explained before, the last time I did this, I was a teenager and this is how I knew how to fall in love/lust/whatever this obsession is.

And to Peter Sterling and Cooper Cronk, I'm sorry to have dragged you into my strange, strange world.

Does anyone else have these kind of ridiculous obsessions? Please?! :)


  1. Ahem. Well.
    You know I love Warney. But that's not really the same thing. I love his skill with a cricket ball, I love his loutish ways. I'm a sucker for a good lout. And I love that he doesn't care what people say (at least outwardly) and no matter how much his personal life might have been falling apart, put a cricket ball in his hand and he just ate up that pressure and played great...
    But it's not the same as what you describe.
    I had a girlfriend in school and I remember her telling me that "in the summer she fell in love with Imran Khan... and all she did was stay at home and watch cricket and she put on weight [that she never got off] and did nothing all summer but obsess over Imran."
    So I guess this is a bit more like what you describe - and make no mistake - Mr Khan was pretty darn gorgeous.
    I can't really think of an equivalent for me except that I did absolutely get obsessed by Twilight - and like you say above - I thought I was far too old to get so invested in a series of books that were never going to win the Pullitzer Prize. But there was something about that story that just spoke to me (and millions of other middle-aged women - they even came up for a name for us didn't they - cougars?) I must have watched the Twilight movie 20 times and I now have all the movies. I must have read each book possibly 6 times.
    So yes - I think it's human to get ridiculous obsessions - and I think unless you act upon them - ie, turn into the stalking bunny-boiler - they're normal. I suppose it's only if they transgress into your 'real' world that they become unhealthy.
    Great post Ms Cate!


    1. Hey Lily,
      Thanks for your big comment. I'm hoping I'm more in your Warnie obsession than the Khan one. I haven't sat on the couch pigging out yet and I've managed for a year now, so hopefully I'll keep it in check!!

      I have to say I was never an Imran fan. I know everyone said he was gorgeous but he didn't get to me. As a kid I was a huge cricket fan but it wasn't until Adam Gilchrist that someone really caught my eye. I could watch him bat all day long. He was so smooth with his technique. I loved watching him and he always seems like a champion bloke.

      I've never had a book obsession either. So thanks, I'm feeling not so crazy now. And I think admitting it makes me feel less like a crazy woman too :)

      One thing I've learned...make all future heroes the blokes in my head and nothing modelled on real people - it gets too messy!! Plus the guys in my head are pretty cool anyway!

      Thanks for sharing and making me feel a little less loopy.

      Cate xox