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You Have My Bow
By Fay Funk
The year was 2001. I was eleven years old, and still very much a child. A dorky child at that. My uniform of a baggy yellow sweatshirt and too-long sweatpants complimented my lopsided mullet and crooked glasses perfectly. While my old elementary school friends were joining the basketball team and going on awkward first dates with boys, I was drawing myself as a Sailor Scout and listening to Linkin Park. The naughtiest thing I ever did was sneak into the TV room past midnight to watch Inuyasha. I was, without a doubt, the most non-sexual creature on the planet.
2001 was also the year the first Lord of the Rings live action movie came to theaters, and like any proper dork I went with a few of my equally dorky friends a few days after the release. With our parents as chaperones of course, since the movie was PG-13.
I knew nothing about the Lord of the Rings going into the movie, but the enthusiastic squawking of all my friends told me that I was in for a treat. As the lights dimmed and the story of the One Ring began, I felt a tingling of excitement rush through my body. This was going to be awesome.
It was so fucking boring.
The hobbits didn’t do anything! They just bumbled around and hid from the bad guys. That’s all they did. Aragorn and Gandalf could at least fight the Nazgul, but after that all they did was brood sullenly and speak cryptically about what was coming, respectively. Super dull, the whole thing.
I spaced out for most of the first half of the movie. By the Council of Elrond, I was ready for a nap. This movie was a huge waste of time.
But then everything changed. Not only did the Lord of the Rings suddenly become the greatest film ever, but I became a different person, rocked into a new alignment by an earthshaking event. Things would never be the same, I knew, from that moment on. What massive, life-affirming power could possibly turn this movie around and shake who I was to my very foundation?
Legolas. It was Legolas.
The moment of Legolas utters his iconic line, “And my bow,” and gets his first close-up changed me forever. I was no longer a child anymore. I was a girl. I was a girl who was attracted to a boy. Awkwardly, obsessively so.
Much to the chagrin of my friends, who had all lovingly selected obscure characters that failed to make it into the Lord of the Rings movie as their favorites, I became a Legolas fanatic. I started by learning everything I could about him, without reading the books of course, since those were even more boring than the movie. Plus no pictures. I talked about his abilities like they were statistics for a baseball player. “Did you know he can walk on top of snow? And doesn’t need to sleep or eat? That definitely makes him cooler than Aragorn. There should be more Legolas in the next movie.”
My romantic fantasies were all innocent. I really just wanted Legolas to hold my hand and tell me he like-liked me. Sexual fantasies were still years away, and would mostly be focused on greasy band dudes, like Julian Casablancas. Not ethereal elf princes. Because of my G-rated crush, I finally understood attraction. I knew with absolute certainty that I was a girl attracted to boys, and that I had not known that before. Romantic feelings were no longer a confusing and scary thing that happened to other people, they happened to me, and they felt good.
What made Legolas so special? I was never all that into Orlando Bloom, the actor who plays Legolas. He will always hold a special place in my heart as the person who brought my first crush to life, but for the most part I find him lackluster. Orlando Bloom is a real person, meaning in theory I could actually meet him and tell him I like-like him while we hold hands, which should have made him the more enticing option. But it didn’t.
As with so many things about being an adult, the fantasy is easier to handle than the reality. And, I think, it’s an important place to start. That’s why Legolas was the awakening for me and so many other middle-school girls, and why Edward Cullen, Harry Potter, and even stars like Justin Bieber are the love interests for tween girls now.
Legolas was a man minus the frightening presence of male sexuality. In the Lord of the Rings movie at least, he was designed to appeal to young girls. A badass fighter who was also kind and gentle, a man who would be happy to hold your hand and and tell you he like-liked you and be just as satisfied with that interaction as you. His appearance was feminine, though there was no mistaking him for a girl, making him even more familiar and less threatening to young girls who at that point in their lives had mainly interacted with other girls. Most importantly, he had no love interest. All the easier to place yourself in Middle Earth, by his side.
Tween girl sexuality tends to be the butt of a lot of jokes. Twilight faces endless ridicule for its impossibly perfect male lead, to the point that this major role may actually be a detriment to actor Robert Pattinson’s career. And I don’t doubt that a lot of the Justin Bieber hate early on was because of his appeal to young girls. I got a lot of eye-rolls during the height of my Legolas phase, and always felt a little uncomfortable sharing my feelings about him until I found a friend who had the same experience.
So often, girls are expected to personify the fantasies of boys. Perhaps these jokes are the result of resentment on the part of some men; the idea that they too can be held to unrealistic expectations. Tearing them down is a way to maintain the status quo: Men do not exist for you, you exist for men.
I needed a fantasy romance before I could deal with a real one. It was goofy, but healthy. I discovered romantic feelings through the safety found in fantasy, before moving slowly into the reality of relationships and sexuality. Aragorn is the appealing character now that I’ve grown up, but Legolas will always represent an awesome, strange, and beautiful beginning.
#Real #Sex #GrowingUp #Puberty #FirstCrush #DiscoveringSexuality #MiddleSchool #TheAwkwardYears #TweenGirls
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