fanatic guilt

November 18, 2011

As I walk by my record collection I can see his eyes peering up at me, hypnotizing me, calling me to pick up his record and listen. I shift my focus to avoid eye contact, grab my Marianne Faithfull Broken English album and quickly, guiltily, place it over his. I can't stand to look at him right now.

Such is the anguish of fanatic guilt; when you spend months, years (or in my case almost a decade) obsessed with a celebrity to the point of embarrassment, only to have that obsession start to fade. There was a time when I listened to nothing --and I mean, nothing-- but Frank Sinatra. Dean Martin's voice would only seep out of my speakers if it was accompanied by Frank's in a duet. The only way that a David Bowie song would reach my eardrums is if his music was playing in a supermarket or my parents had popped in one of his cds in the car and I could not escape. I was the most fanatic of fans, to the point that his face was plastered around my room, screen-printed on my t-shirts and taped to my first cell phone as a make-shift case.

Every year on December 12th my family and I would celebrate his birthday by watching a double feature of his movies and a concert while eating pasta topped with sauce that I made using Sinatra's recipe. For every Christmas from 2000 to about 2009, my presents were entirely Sinatra-themed. I relished Christmas shopping because it was the one time of year when I could hear his voice loftily floating through the air without having put it there myself.

And so I felt a bit of a sting the other day when my mom recalled an event from a few years ago and added "that was during your Sinatra phase."

Was it really a phase? And was it really over? I sulked a bit and marched up to my bedroom. As I sat on my bed I noticed a Pogues record on my turntable. A quick glance at the art adorning my walls would prove that I'm a fan of Anna Karina, Giulietta Masina, Louise Brooks, Sunday in New York, Dirk Bogarde and Jane Fonda but you'd never guess that I like Sinatra. The only presence he maintains in my bedroom is a magnet on my bulletin board, tucked under a photo of my cat, and a pile of records that haven't been touched in years.

I can see his eyes peering up at me, hypnotizing me, calling me to pick up his album and listen. But, wracked with the guilt of a fan who has let her interest slip away, I can't stand to look at him right now.


Quelle Books said...

I was wondering why you don't talk about Frank Sinatra stuff as much anymore. Is your love for Dirk Bogarde dwindling too? It's okay. I've had many infatuations in the past. I was really into everything Louisa May Alcott and that crashed and burned after some years. I felt guilty and although I tried I can't get back into anything Alcott except for Little Women.

I have long term infatuations and ones that only last one or two weeks. Even the most intense passion burns out eventually.

So happy to see you posting on Silents and Talkies!

kate gabrielle said...

I still love him and Dirk Bogarde but I'm definitely not as obsessive anymore. I haven't watched a Dirk Bogarde movie in like 6 months :(

I honestly think part of the Sinatra thing for me started when I discovered classic movie blogs and realized how many other people are obsessed with him. It just didn't feel as personal for me anymore. In middle school/high school I felt like I was the only one in the world keeping his music alive, so once I discovered all these other people who were just as/more obsessed than me, the pressure was off. And it just felt like I was one of many, which isn't fun :p

You're right about the short term ones, too! For you, Pamela Tiffin immediately springs to mind, right? :)

Millie said...

This was seriously a beautiful post (I know that sounds dorky, but I'm being serious)!

I understand exactly what you're saying!

For me, it often happens with those people that EVERYONE'S a fan of. I adore Sinatra, but so do so many people.

I totally think it has to do with what you're saying about the "personal" aspect. I tend to focus and more obviously obsess on less popular people, because it's just so much fun being the "one" who keeps the fandom going (BRADFORD DILLMAN FOREVER! ;-D).

I don't know. I'm not really making sense, but I really loved your post!


Great! I love Sinatra, too, and I have some obsessive phases with artists. I've been through these phases with people like Giulietta Masina and Anthony Perkins. Sometimes I'm worried that my classic movie fanatism could be a phase too, and if it will be over, I don't know what to do since I've been building my life with them!
I have the recipe of Katharine Hepburn's brownies and I'd love to taste Frank Sinatra's pasta!

Raquel Stecher said...

Oh yes! Pamela Tiffin and Tuesday Weld were both flash-in-the-pan crushes for me.

I know what you mean. I hate liking what seems to be popular among everyone else. There are so many people in the world, I want to feel different/special. Not just one in a crowd! :-)

NoirGirl said...

I think this is one of the best posts you've ever written, Kate. Truly fabulous.

The only person I ever felt this way about was Audrey Hepburn. Back in the very beginning when I first started to love classic film, I saw Sabrina and just adored Audrey to bits. But when I started to realize how (sad but true..) mainstream she is, my adoration waned. It took me years to finally be able to appreciate her again. The film that did it was How to Steal A Million. Thank heaven for Fox Movie Channel! ;)

Anyway, wonderful post!

Mykal Banta said...

Kate: He'll be back. Sinatra always comes back. One day, you'll be walking in a park feeling a bit melancholy, and you'll realize that "Summer Wind" was written for you!

Heather Toner said...

I had a similar phase and also felt like I was the only one who really understood and appreciated Frank. He's an easy one to overdose on, but Mykal is right, he's always there, when you need him again.

I love his rendition of "Soliloquy" from Carousel...It always makes me cry.

Andi B. Goode said...

Yep, I completely understand this! I'm just glad I'm not the only one who feels fanatic guilt! Some of my past obsessions are gone almost completely (bands I loved as a teenager like Good Charlotte, come to mind - I was OBSESSED with them) but I still feel a nostalgic fondness for them, whilst others are still strong loves that I will always have (The Beatles and The Smiths) but don't need to spend all of my time obsessing over anymore. Most of my 'obsessions' now only last a month at most and they seem to cycle a bit.
-Andi x