When I was twelve, I was an odd duck.
We sort of already touched on this before, but there are some things that I haven't been willing to admit, especially on such a public, permanent platform. Things that very few people in my past know, thanks to the fringe benefits of being a military brat who moved every three years and was able to shed my past humiliations like a second skin. And the people who do know respectfully and lovingly only bring it up once or twice a year, when we meet for family Christmas and they remind me how I wore denim Hedwig overalls well past the age of acceptability while insisting that Avril Lavigne's choppy fringe was the height of cool.
They remind me of those things, as well as the Sprouse notebook.
I want to preface this by saying I've loved writing ever since I could hold a pencil. When I was in first and second grade, I used to scribble out clumsy family newsletters that informed the readership (my very tired mother) about the comings and goings of our dog, Addie. When I got a little older, I would write short stories where my friends featured as mermaids and princesses. And during my dark years – sixth and seventh grades, the years of homeschooling and extreme Catholicism, respectively – I wrote about boys.
More specifically, I wrote about my own budding, repressed sexuality through the lens of a preteen girl whose only exposure to heartthrobs and the male form was what I was spoonfed by the Disney channel. Characters like Gordo from Lizzie McGuire and Ron Stoppable from Kim Possible (yeah, I lusted after cartoon characters, don't act like you haven't, we all thought Kovu was hot as hell and he wasn't even human) were all well and good, but I wasn't here for a mop of curls or hand-sketched freckles. No, I wanted a little intellect with my man, a hint of snark and a head of shaggy, too-trendy blonde hair to compliment the confusing combination of full cheeks and smart, grown-up sounding one liners.
I wanted Cody and Zack Martin, the titular twin ten's who were living a literal dream life as they had the run of an entire freaking hotel.
I hardly feel I can be blamed.
That in itself wasn't weird. I feel like a ton of girls had crushes on Zack and Cody at that time, which was good news for them since the Sprouse twins built an actual empire (seriously, Sprouse Bros was a multi-million dollar brand for awhile) fueled by this fanbase.
No, the weirdness came in when my love of writing married my love of the Sprouse twins, and combined altogether with my lack of access to a computer.
Thus, the Sprouse notebook was born.
In short, I was writing fanfiction before I even knew what fanfiction was. In one of my short stories – stories that at first favored Dylan Sprouse, though as I got older gravitated more towards Cole – I met them at a meet and greet and a slip of paper with my email address written on it fell out of my pocket. Totally normal and plausible, right? From there, Cole/Dylan just had to meet me, so he emailed me asking if we could 'be friends.' Yes, that's right – none of my stories were explicit. Remember the repressed sexuality from before? I in fact went out of my way to clarify that 'we just hung out, didn't kiss or anything, just held hands a little.' Gotta leave room for Jesus, even in my fantasy scenarios!
This was all bad enough, of course. You'd think that with such precious, incriminating content, I'd be careful to keep my writing hidden and discreet. WRONG! I was proud of that shit. So proud, in fact, that I bought Disney magazines and cut out pictures of the Sprouse twins to tape onto the lime green cover of my composition notebook like some terrifying preteen serial killer collage. And then I showed it to people! I proudly let my best-friend-and-cousin Mary Margaret read some, if not all, of my stories, and nodded very seriously as she offered feedback. Oh my god, it was bad.
But that's not all.
Without going off on a tangent, my family and I were Hurricane Katrina people who didn't properly evacuate in time. This means that when we realized the ferocity of the impending storm, we had just enough time to grab our most prized possessions and hop in our Eurovan to take off to higher ground. Naturally when my mom told me to grab 'anything that I could fit in a bag,' I grabbed my two composition notebooks. One of which… was the Sprouse notebook.
Yep. My twelve-year-old brain counted that among my top two most valuable possessions over my photo albums and international diaries.
Anyway, that was all a long-winded way of saying that I was a weird kid with weird hobbies who crushed on weird Disney channel stars with weird haircuts. I have since been appropriately teased and (lovingly) shamed for my past hobbies as a Sprouse fangirl, and as I grew up, moved on to lusting more acceptable 'hot guy' guys. And yet I could never quite let it go when people would bring up the Sprouse notebook – we'd all have a laugh and it would settle, and then I'd go '… but I mean, they're cute. And smart! And funny! Did you know they go to NYU?' Their answering facial expressions were always akin to a big fat 'Sure, Jan,' but my love for the Sprouse twins – while dimmed – did not die. It just sort of chilled out into something nostalgic and cute, something that, while embarrassing, was an essential part of my early adolescence.
And then Riverdale happened.
And then Cole Sprouse was cast as Jughead.
And then I was vindicated.
I FREAKING TOLD YOU GUYS. I TOLD YOU ALL, I TOLD YOU SO HARD, I KNEW THEY WERE GONNA GROW UP FINE AS HELL.
I REALIZE THAT COLE =/= BOTH SPROUSE TWINS BUT SCREW YOU CUZ DYLANS SEXY TOO, HE'S OPENED HIS OWN MEADERY, HE HAS LONG FLOWING THOR LOCKS, BUT ALSO LOOK AT COLE AS JUGHEAD SOME MORE.
HE'S DYED HIS HAIR BLACK, HE'S GOT THAT HALF-SMIRK THING DOWN, HE FREQUENTLY ALMOST CRIES AND THAT GIVES ME A LADY SEMI EVERY TIME.
But besides all of the deep and brooding sex appeal of his character, Cole Sprouse is also an absurdly amazing actor for the scope of this show. The entire show is great, much to my surprised delight, but Cole Sprouse has seriously graduated from Disney Channel bush league to the subtle, nuanced performance of a serious actor. He's dark and layered without coming across as tryhard or grating, and when he plays sad, you genuinely forget that you're watching an actor and instead watch as a teenager falls apart.
And all of that is a long-winded way of saying… I told you so. I freaking told you so.
Now let's all get together and wait impatiently for season 2 of Riverdale.