The small television loomed large in the small family room in rural Idaho. “He’s so hot,” Tiffany said with a dreamy expression. I looked at the screen with Pierce Brosnan’s face gazing lazily at me. “I like Magnum PI,” I retorted. I had a crush on the mustached crime fighter for years. Some of my earliest memories center around feeling weak in the chest as I watched Tom Sellek play Thomas Magnum, a tough guy private investigator who looked rough and rugged. In contrast, Peirce Brosnan seemed like a fake to me. He was! Remington Steele was a fake, a con man, a liar. I think that bothered me even then, before I could really understand what the differences were between the two men.
“He has a mustache!” Tiffany replied with a scandalized tone. “How would you even kiss him.” If felt a flutter as I thought of Tom Sellek’s mustached face kissing me. “It wouldn’t be that bad,” I defended. She rolled her eyes condescendingly. “Remington Steele is way better! He’s so suave and his suit is nice and he just looks at you and you melt. And, he’s kind of a bad guy. That makes him cool.” I didn’t understand that.
I was a straight arrow. Even as a little girl, I saw the world in black and white and Remington Steele was gray. I liked to watch the show, but I didn’t trust Remington Steele. Tiffany liked to get away with stuff. Even small cons on my parents seemed not to bother her in the slightest. If you could get away with it, there was no problem. I couldn’t live that way.
Years later I watched her graduate from high school, so anxious to get on with her life and leave her childhood behind, I couldn’t help but feel a great sense of loss. She was leaving me behind as well. I didn’t have a great relationship with her, but I thought things were getting better. She was no longer the bully that she was when we were little. She was always left in charge as the oldest back then, and Tiffany loved to tattle and blame me and criticise me endlessly. I hated her and the feeling was probably mutual. As she became a busy high school student and I started looking up to her a little, things got better. We shared shoes and some clothes, and sometimes talked about boys or school. She would give me advice. Constantly. Sometimes it was helpful, but I didn’t like how she always seemed to want to know everything. I was smart too. Now she was leaving and I was heart broken. She didn’t seem to care at all.
We still saw a lot of Tiffany as she attended the local college. She dated a lot of different boys, but nothing seemed to ever work out. She graduated from the nursing program and moved to the big city to make her mark. She was living in Salt Lake City and working as a nurse when she met David. He was a cell phone salesman with a palm pilot in his pocket. His smooth charm and sad story won Tiffany over and before anyone knew what was happening, they were getting married.
“He’s been married before?” I asked.
“Yes. Don’t be so judgey Bridge!” she retorted.
I was self aware enough to realize that I was judgemental. I had boycotted the senior prom my junior year because they had decided to have prom at Retrix, the only dance club in town. I thought Retrix was the most unholy place in Rexburg and I couldn’t believe that the school was forcing us to support that kind of place. Nothing came of my solitary protest and the next year prom was again at Retrix. I toned down my outrage and I ended up going to it. I was a little disgusted with the way the couples were dancing, but I had enough social awareness by then to keep it to myself. I was learning that the world was bigger than Rexburg and my Mormon upbringing. Tiffany was in the big city now, and she might know a few things I didn’t about the world outside. Even so, I didn’t like how fast everything was going. We hadn’t even met David and now he was going to join our family.
“He’s awesome. You are going to love him. He’s so spiritual and nice and handsome…..” her words and her tone sounded familiar. It was like Pierce Brosnan. He was too good to be true. He was rich and a body builder and he had this sob story about his past that cast him as a pitiful victim of bad circumstances. His parents had divorced right as he was getting ready to go on his mission. He had to stay home to help his family work through the traumatic experience. Then he married a woman who ended up going crazy and stabbing him in the back with a knife from their kitchen. He moved out and got a restraining order against her and filed for divorce. Now he was getting his life back together. He was going to be rich. He was going to be powerful. He was full of drive and determination, and seemed to have just a little bit of a Machiavellian streak; just enough to make him willing to do whatever it took to be successful and that’s what Tiffany wanted most. So what if his past wasn’t ideal? It was his future that mattered, and he was going to be successful.
I never questioned his story. I never speculated that David’s ex-wife might not be the woman that David and his family painted her to be. I never considered that his man might be a con artist; that like Remington Steele, the person he was pretending to be was very different than the man he actually was. I was hopeful that he was a diamond in the rough, a bad boy ready to be a good husband and father as I watched David and Tiffany walk out of the Salt Lake Temple as man and wife.