CCM Magazine Was My Teen Beat
At fourteen years old, I was all knees and layered perm, taller than every girl in my class and most of the boys. I wasn’t allowed to wear make-up or go to school dances. To make matters worse, I wasn’t allowed to listen to Z-93, because Madonna was on there and she was sinful, throwing around words like “virgin.” Taylor Dayne sounded like she might be a smoker. Janet was a Jackson.
Good Christian girls just didn’t listen to secular music or buy heartthrob magazines. Everyone knew that 1 + 1 = a long, tortured road of lustful thoughts and eventual promiscuity.
To compensate my losses, Mom bought me a subscription to CCM magazine, and I was suddenly back in-the-know, at least on Sunday nights.
I spent hours perusing every interview. I pored over slick pages of attractive men with powdered noses and gel in their hair. They were trendy and tan, and they smiled straight at me.
I fell in love.
Of course it hurt when I heard that Michael W. Smith had eighteen kids. That he wasn’t dating Amy Grant was enough of a blow. That he was married was a given, a minor inconvenience. But something about all those kids hammered the coffin of our happily-ever-after shut. We weren’t meant to be. (At least I’d always have his Secret Ambition video on VHS.)
I moved on to Petra’s John Schlitt, mostly because he had longish hair and a Don Johnson blazer, all jewel-toned and shoved up at the elbows. His singing voice was strangely shrill, but I could love him in spite of it.
Then there was DC Talk. My best friend Sarah was quick to claim Toby as her own, but I had already secretly picked Kevin, or as I liked to call him, K-Max. Never mind that he was a foot shorter than me. We’d be like the musician/supermodel combos that I’d sneaked peaks at in the check-out lanes at Kroger.
Carmen was the David Copperfield of the industry, all flinty-eyed and dark. I wasn’t foolish or uncool enough to admit to that crush, but his voice-overs never failed to give me goose-bumps.
The Newsboys had me brushing up on my Aussie accent. Steven Curtis Chapman made me reconsider the mullet. In a strange twist marked with hazy details, my friend Lyndsay and I embarked on a years-long, quasi-serious, shared affection for Russ Taff, already sliding off stage left and into his golden years.
I clipped pictures of glammed-up Christian men wearing smoldery grins and taped them to the walls of my closet, right next to the faceless, oiled torsos of the free Soloflex calendar that had somehow fallen through the cracks of my parents’ logic.
This was the way I (mis)spent my youth, day-dreaming about married men twice my age. But hey, unlike Neil Patrick Harris or Jason Priestley, they had Jesus in their hearts. And that was the important thing.
(For more great writing from Shannan, check out her blog at flowerpatchfarmgirl.)