Obsession as Elixir

June 27, 2009

News that Farrah Fawcett died this week at age sixty-two conjured a memory. I was a young reporter in Thomasville, Georgia. It was 1975 or thereabouts. I wrote a story about a boy afflicted with a terminal disease, a boy whose only source of joy was his obsession with Charlie’s Angels.

After all these years the details are blurred. The boy, part of an impoverished family, lived in a small room decorated with posters from the TV show. Taking up the most wall space was Fawcett, her come-hither smile a beacon in the dim light. When I arrived the boy was quiet and listless. Then I mentioned her name. His voice amplified and his pale skin bloomed with color.

The boy couldn’t see beyond Fawcett’s beauty to the suffering that awaited her decades later. Nor could she have known that her presence on screen and in his mind was an elixir, however temporary, to a painful life destined to end too soon.

I wish I would have saved the clipping. What I can still see is the boy, seated on his bed beneath the Fawcett poster, waving goodbye as I closed the door.