Although we had never actually met, I knew that I was exactly Peter’s type. I’d read somewhere that middle children should never date middle children, and guess what—I was an oldest child! Like Peter, I also liked pork chops and applesauce. Like Peter, I wrote for the school newspaper. Peter’s dream job was at an ice-cream parlor and then later at a pizza place—my two favorite foods!This was going to work out.
After watching him so much on TV that I had his every mannerism, quirk, freckle, and stylish pair of bell-bottomed jeans memorized, the childhood me was under the impression (through the twin powers of syndication and self-delusion) that Peter and I were approximately the same age, give or take a few months.Imagine my elation when I found myself at my grandmother’s neighbor’s son’s wedding with Christopher Knight as another name on the guest list.
I was 10, my sister was five and served as the flower girl. Admittedly, Oakley was adorable in her rainbow tiered chiffon dress, but what could she possibly know about boys? She was five.My mom whispered to me just before the Wagner’s Bridal Chorus began to play, “Oh, I forgot to tell you: Robyn said that TV star from that show you like is going to be here. He’s a good friend of the groom’s brother.” She had no time to elaborate, as the music began and we had to put on our cheery wedding faces.
What TV show? What star? She couldn’t possibly mean Eddie Munster, could she?Just as the priest was starting to say, “Dearly beloved …” I was tugging deliberately at my mom’s sleeve. “Who? Who are you talking about?” I whispered.
“Greg Brady. Now be quiet!” she hissed.Greg Brady? Who cares about him, except that maybe he could introduce me to Peter.
I focused on the wedding’s grandeur and on what flavor the cake might be (I was praying for chocolate). Really, meeting arrogant Greg Brady was not on my 5th grade agenda.At the reception, the neighbor Robyn made her way over to our table to chat with my mom and fawn all over Oakley and her doll-like cuteness. “And MOV, did you have a chance to meet Chris Knight? Your mom says you’re a big fan of The Brady Bunch.”
Chris Knight, a.k.a Peter Brady? Not Greg? This was a game-changer.“What?” I said, trying my best but failing miserably at being discreet and nonchalant. “Peter is here? Here in this room? Where?”
“That’s him,” said Robyn pointing at some adult who bore a strong resemblance to Peter, most likely Peter’s dad or great uncle, “He’s talking to that bosomy brunette.”Sure enough, it was Peter, an adult, 21-year-old Peter, flirting with some hot chick he’d met mere moments ago, and most likely using the pick-up line, “I like pork chops and applesauce.” That was supposed to be what he said to me.
The next thing you know, Robyn had interrupted Peter’s lovefest to usher him over to me, an adoring fan. “Hi, Miss, what is your name?” Peter spoke to me in that slightly officious and patronizing way that adults often speak to young children. It reminded me of how Santa greets a toddler. And what would you like for Christmas, little girl?I was so confused. All this time, I thought that Peter and I were the same age, or that we had at least been born in the same decade. I was wrong, and my heart felt like it had been bitten by a tarantula, like what almost happened to Peter in episode 74. My years of devotion to Peter Brady’s TV image were all a cruel hoax.
“Do you want his autograph?” prodded Robyn, woefully oblivious to my pain. I desperately wanted her to sink away into a deep hole at that point, and maybe have me go with her.“No, no, that’s okay,” I shook my head, disappointed.
Peter disappeared while my face turned 23 shades of red. He returned a minute later with a glossy 8 x 10 headshot and a thin black magic marker in his hands. “Who shall I make it out to?” he asked politely.“MOV,” answered my mother enthusiastically, trying to be supportive of me and my bizarre unrequited romance. “That’s spelled M-O-V.” She smiled wide, thinking she was making my fondest dreams come true.
My fondest dreams, of course, starred a 10- or even 11-year-old Peter, not one that was shaving, driving, and graduating from college.With a flourish, Peter signed the photo and then handed it to me. “To MOB,” he’d written in sloppy non-Virgo handwriting, “my youngest fan. Fondly, Christopher Knight.”
MOB? Youngest? Fondly? Who the hell did he think he was?I wanted to give him a piece of my mind. I wanted to tell him that is was rude and misleading of him to grow older while his character stayed young, foxy, and idol-worship-worthy. I summoned what little bit of courage my 10-year-old self possessed and said,
“Excuse me, Peter? Do you know if Bobby’s here?”MOV