Hey Winona Ryder!
Winona Ryder, I really hope you Google yourself and find this article. It probably won’t be the first search result, so I hope you can scroll. Or I hope your friends, or agent, or somebody forwards this to you. Look, how you get here is beside the point, my name is Jimmy Chen, and between 1991 and 1994 I was in love with you — well, not you, but the characters you played, specifically the sexually curious somewhat slutty repressed catholic girl in Mermaids, and the quirky emo-ish adopted girl looking for her real mom in Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael.
In 1993 my parents went to Europe for vacation and invited me to go with them, but I declined, as I had just gotten a job at Blockbuster, and needed some “alone time,” during which I took advantage of the 5 free rentals a week and watched all your movies. I would spread out my blanket in front of the TV in the “family room,” and eat chicken while I continued to investigate the agilities of my penis and scrotum. True, the poultry-genital transition was less than smooth, or sanitary, but we live in a complicated world. Our video tryst was romantic for me, too bad you weren’t around.
I know your real name is Winona Horowitz but your then publicist probably told you or your parents to change it to Ryder because Horowitz was and is a little too 1939 for gentile consumption, which sucks. And the whole Johnny Depp thing really got to me, like you and him fucking via waterbed in Edward Scissorhands and probs irl. My first crush in college also loved Johnny Depp; she loved Benny & Joon, which turned me off to Asperger’s and crazy painter chicks. I’m jealous of Johnny Depp, and was happy to see him so depressed in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, like finally he knew how horrible life felt via fat mom/lame town/crazy brother.
I remember it crushed me when in Reality Bites you got turned on by Ethan Hawke signing Violent Femmes and creepin into the mic; gawd, how predictable. I think that’s when I fell out of love with you, like I couldn’t be with a woman who would swoon over those droopy eyes and thin goatee. Still, I had fantasies about living in whatever town that movie was supposed to be based in, like getting coffee with you then going back to your apartment and doing it, probs to a Tom Waits ballad then some Echinacea cough drops on behalf of the poor man’s scratchy throat. By the time you were banging freaking Dracula (via Gary Oldman) it was completely over between us. I had moved to college, and you had changed centuries.
But last weekend I thought of you. Maybe because or your recent face-stabbing appearance in Black Swan, or because after the heart loves — no matter how bottomless and tragic — one never forgets a face. I must have watched the love scene in Mermaids, where you do it in the belltower with that silent-type dude, at least fifty times — wearing out that stretch of moment in my VHS tape. (Before “chapters” in DVDs, and streaming thumbnail previews, one had to just “know” where the scenes were.) You lost your virginity about a pinky’s nail width from the end of the reel, and I lost mine to you, alone in a large empty upper-middle class suburban house, probably around 10:00pm, just before a self-imposed bedtime, soon after which I would enter my twin bed.
If you Google me you will find that the first result is my website, in which a “mail to” icon links directly to my email. This is far from a booty call, so please — though I am flattered. Maybe we can get drinks or something, or I can also break your heart. Are you imagining a less attractive and mysterious bald Johnny Depp with anxiety problems and a respiratory tic right about now? Do you know what a turtle looks like? Great. This might not be a blind date after all.
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If you’ve been looking for a chance to say something then this very well could be it.
I wish to God I’d had a list like this when I was 23.
Answer phones better than anyone else has answered phones before. Relay messages so brilliant, they bring people to tears. Turn the coffee run into the choreography of Swan Lake. Become best friends with every intern and every underling and every taxi driver you encounter.
I remember taking the pen and notebook from that woman outside the courtroom, flipping to a clean page in the book, and writing, JESSICA IS SAD in big, bold, uncoordinated letters. “My sister is going to be a good writer someday! Look at how nice her lines are!”