Last week was Tom Everett Scott’s birthday. And for most people it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but it’s a huge deal for me because he’s the first person I ever became obsessed with. It started as an innocent crush when I was 12, and it quickly spiraled out of control well into my 13th year. There had been other boys in my life before Tom. I’d had school crushes, written initials on my binders and on casts for broken limbs. I’d asked “do you like me? check yes or no,” in notes passed in school. I’d even “gone out” with a boy for a week in 4th grade, and had my first kiss with another in 5th grade. But I hadn’t gone head-over-heels crazy for anyone…yet.
The first time I saw him as the quirky, disheveled Guy Patterson, heart and soul of the band “The Wonders,” in the cinematic masterpiece That Thing You Do!, I was into his whole vibe. His character was cute and cool, yet so boyish. And gracious. Guy totally didn’t let fame get to him–he was just all about the music. And it didn’t bother me that he and Liv Tyler got together at the end of the movie, because in a way, Liv was a kindred spirit too. I’d grown up with her, worshipped her when she played a wild teen in that Aerosmith video, and wanted to be her in Empire Records, so it didn’t occur to me that they could have had chemistry in real life, which I don’t think they did, thank God. That would have crushed me.
I immediately bought the soundtrack to That Thing You Do! and proceeded to listen to it every single day until I knew all the songs by heart. All the songs by The Wonders were great, but there was one wistful song by another woman called My World Is Over, that was everything. That song became our song, and I would hang out for hours in my room and play it over and over and think about my future boyfriend, Tom Everett Scott.
Slowly but surely, my crush evolved into full-blown obsession status. Despite the fact that Tom had A) never met me and B) did not possess any knowledge of my existence, the love I felt for him blistered away in my heart so strongly that I knew that he had to know, deep down, that his soul mate was a 12 year old girl living in Oklahoma City. It could have come to him in a dream, or perhaps during a day of filming Dead Man On Campus he kept hearing someone whisper “Laraaaaaa” faintly during a take, and he’d whipped his head around (breaking character for the fifth time that day) and the director had screamed “Cut!” and instead of listening to the director’s cries of frustration, Tom wondered to himself “Who is this ‘Lara’? Where is she?” Either way, I was certain he felt for me what I felt for him.
My parents separated when I was 8, and finalized their divorce when I was 10. By the time I was 12, my dad had a condo and a 25 year old girlfriend named Angie, who was the reason behind said separation and subsequent divorce. Growing up in a small-ish, suburban environment where most parents are together, yet your dad has moved in with a much younger girlfriend, will make you want to get out. My crush on Tom became my lighthouse. He could take me away from Oklahoma, from softball games and mean girls, and not knowing how to put on makeup, and my overprotective mother and my dad’s dark condo/girlfriend situation. We would live in Los Angeles, and go to dinners with Liv, and laugh about how crazy life is, and I would probably become an actress too, and eventually win an Academy Award. I loved our future together.
Nevermind that Tom Everett Scott was 26 and I was 12, we could figure out the details (like the fact that our relationship was 100% illegal in most countries) together. If my dad’s infidelities had taught me anything, they taught me that age doesn’t matter when two people are meant to be. Plus, I felt very worldly and mature, thanks to all my life experiences leading up to this point, so I knew it was only a matter of time before our paths crossed.
The winter moved into the spring. I got braces, I turned 13 and Tom turned 27. I finished the sixth grade, and through all of these life changes, my feelings for him only grew more intense. The soundtrack that had previously caused me to smile and daydream was now a catalyst for tears. My heart hurt. How unfair this lovestruck life was! Also, the distance between us was getting frustrating. I didn’t know where Tom lived back then, but I knew it absolutely wasn’t in Oklahoma, and I also knew that I was going to have to leave Oklahoma to find him. I needed to go to a glamorous locale that celebrities and fashion people frequented (like Planet Hollywood) which was exactly where I begged my mom to take my siblings and I for dinner when we went down to Dallas for a weekend that summer. In my heart of hearts, I believed that Tom Everett Scott, movie star, would be hanging out at Planet Hollywood in Dallas, Texas that weekend. Here was how the night would go: Tom would see me, we would be drawn to each other, feelings would be realized, and the rest would be history. Done.
‘It’s all happening,’ I thought to myself as I got ready that evening. ‘This is it. My big night.’ I inwardly wished I could roll solo on this Planet Hollywood rendezvous, because my family was definitely going to cramp my style, but I devised a plan to ditch them if need be. I practiced my introduction in the mirror. “Oh those freaks? I don’t know who they are. I’m Lara. Hi.” It was going to be perfect.
Once we’d been seated at dinner, I started to get a little nervous. I knew I looked great (I was making my braces work for me) but I hadn’t seen Tom anywhere. So I decided to get up and do a walk-through of the space. No Tom. This was weird. Surely he knew that this was where we were supposed to meet. I went back to the table, only to get up 10 minutes later and do another lap.
Needless to say, I did not run into Tom Everett Scott at Planet Hollywood Dallas that night, because no one runs into anyone famous at Planet Hollywood. Ever. Even though I stole away from the dinner table and walked around the restaurant several more times throughout the course of our meal, he was nowhere to be found. At one point I even stood in the middle of the restaurant, staring up at the balconies in hopes that he’d be casually looking down on me and our love story could begin, but no dice. The worst part about it was that, with every hopeful stroll around the space, it became clearer and clearer that Planet Hollywood was not the hot spot I’d thought it was. It was full Texans and tourists. I’d go so far as to say that nary a movie star has graced the Planet Hollywood Dallas with their presence. This, I’m sure, is one of the main reasons that the restaurant branches have failed. Just a hypothesis.
I wasn’t so much devastated as I was confused. My heart was communicating so clearly to my head how “meant to be” I was with this person, so how did we never meet? It didn’t make sense. However, the whole experience kind of let me down easy and also released me from my obsession with Tom. In a way, it would have been far worse to have had the opportunity to meet the person I was in love with, express my feelings to them, and deal with the emotional repercussions of that person not wanting me. So time passed. And after that summer I went on to seventh grade and turned 14, then eventually 15.