I will never forget the first time I was published.
In 1979 I was 8 years old and had a mad crush on Shaun Cassidy. I don’t remember how this crush began, (I am thinking it had to do with my steady reading of Tiger Beat Magazine), but the next thing I knew I was listening to his LP’s (Da Doo Ron Ron), wearing his tshirts, and hanging up his posters.
But like most crushes at 8 years old, it was fleeting. Eventually I found out that many of Shaun Cassidy’s musical “hits” were nothing more than covers of other artists. Now a typical 8 year old probably wouldn’t care about this sort of thing, but I grew up in a house filled with my father’s record collection of mostly “Oldies But Goodies” and it didn’t take long until I put two and two together. I was ashamed I had settled for a cheaper version of a song. Shame shame on Shaun Cassidy and the Tiger Beat machine! In disgust, I stopped reading the magazine all together. I quit cold turkey.
When I turned 10 years old, I was having my usual supermarket ritual with my mom one day. As always, we separated, while she roamed the aisles for food and I checked out the magazine section. Like a moth to a flame, I was drawn in to my old stomping grounds and picked up the latest issue of Tiger Beat magazine. Old habits die hard, but this time there was a new crush in town, and I developed a new addiction. I wrote a letter to the editor. A few issues later, I walked back into that same supermarket with my mom, picked up the July 1981 issue and found my letter published:
Wild For Him
When I was 8 years old, I was in love with Shaun Cassidy, but the time finally came when I had enough of him. What happened? I guess I changed a bit. Then I stopped buying TiGER beat. When I turned 10, I saw TiGER beat on the newsstand so I picked it up and flipped through the pages. Guess what happened? I went wild for Matt Dillon! Comparing Matt with Shaun, Shaun was nothing.
I squealed with joy! (Never mind the insensitivity of calling Shaun Cassidy “nothing”)
“Mom! Mom! They printed my letter!” I found her quickly and we bought the magazine. I was so proud. And then in true 10 year old fashion, I quickly got over it and I was over Matt Dillon.
I must have thrown out that magazine when I discovered boys in real time, boys who were not part of a fantasy life. I stopped buying pre-teen magazines all together and focused on boys that were in front of me.
It wasn’t until January 2003, at the age of 32, where I started to wonder what ever happened to that particular issue of Tiger Beat Magazine. The internet had been around for a little while, so I started snooping on Ebay for back issues of teen periodicals. My investigative skills were out and I was on a mission.
I dug threw many listings of magazine nostalgia sellers. I couldn’t remember what specific issue carried my letter, so I started emailing sellers who had copies of Tiger Beat in 1981, because I remembered I had written the phrase, “When I turned 10” and I remembered that it had been many months after my November birthday, when I discovered my published letter.
After some heavy research, a woman named Linda from Connecticut, responded to my inquiry and emailed me back. “I found it!” she wrote. She found my letter to the editor in the magazine and sold me her copy. When I received it in the mail, it was in mint condition. Reunited and it felt so good.
Never, ever, will I throw you out again, Tiger Beat Magazine.
Theresa Donahoe, 39 years old.