Who else would debate me on the topic of Chris Evans’ beard?
When she was my age, my mom would call in to the offices of Regal Films and ask to speak to matinee idol of the moment, William Martinez. “Hi William,” she would gush, “fans na fans mo ako.”
I’ve been hearing about this since I was little, so much so that “fans na fans” has become a catchphrase of sorts in our house. But my favorite story about my mother’s exploits as a teen William Martinez superfan (sorry, fans) was the time she almost got run over by a car trying to cross the street to get to him.
There is no doubt in my mind as to why I, her offspring, would have the same embarrassingly fanatical tendencies when it comes to my own objects of fixation.
I’d written before about how magazines are able to show us a world beyond what we’re used to and how they help form our tastes, but really, our parents did it first. My mom introduced me to certain things that, in turn, would end up shaping my criteria for my interests: kitschy pop like the film adaptation of Grease, romantic comedies like Sweet Home Alabama and Never Been Kissed, backstory-driven horror-comedies like Hocus Pocus and The Frighteners, and River Phoenix, who remains my gold standard for celebrity crushes.
Now that I’m old enough to figure out what I like and what I don’t on my own, I’ve been returning the favor and recommending some of my own favorites to her. Lately, though, she’s always way ahead of me, picking up on my obsessions (okay, mostly cute boys) before I even have the chance to tell her about them. I’m not subtle about the things I love — I never shut up about them, and I’m prone to binging shows or filmographies as well as holding repeat viewings, over the course of a few days. Nonetheless, when my mom takes note, it’s a pleasant surprise that never gets old.
A peak example, I think, is when we were watching X-Men: Apocalypse together for the first time. On Nicholas Hoult, welcoming the Summers brothers to the X-Mansion: “Crush natin ‘yan, ‘di ba?” On James McAvoy, rocking longer hair and his blazer sleeves at his elbows, straight out of Miami Vice: “Crush natin ‘yan, ‘di ba?” On Evan Peters, stuck in bullet time trying to save gifted youngsters from an exploding Xavier’s School: “Crush natin ‘yan, ‘di ba?”
You get it.
When I started showing her Game of Thrones, she took one look at Kit Harington and said, “So crush na natin ‘yan.” She caught sight of Nick Valensi on my iPad lockscreen and marveled, “Sino ‘yan, ang pogi! Bago mong boyfriend?” During awards season, she would gush with me at the sight of Dev Patel, Daniel Kaluuya, Diego Luna, and Gael Garcia Bernal. She sits with me for an entire day just to hold an X-Files or One Tree Hill marathon, agreeing that Mulder and Scully are soulmates and that Nathan is obviously (ultimately) the better and cuter Scott.
And she never turns down yet another discussion about Chris Evans — sometimes about his dreamy boy-next-door-ness and real-life penchant for standing up for what’s right, but mostly about his beard, or lack thereof.
I love these small moments of understanding. It hasn’t occurred to me until recently how important it is to have a mom who notices the little things, listens, and keeps up with you even when it’s inconsequential, on top of the nurturing and guidance (and great cooking!) she already wholeheartedly gives.
It shows that she’s interested in you as a person and a friend — that she really sees you and pays attention when it’s so easy to just be indifferent and leave you alone — which is just as essential as unconditional love.
This very sweet, very funny comic by Tiffany Ford jumped out at me last week, because it did a great job of explaining why this is so important. Even when she doesn’t fully get it, even when she just chops vegetables silently while you ramble, there’s something truly touching about a mom who visibly tries and still thinks of you even when she’s at the supermarket. The artist may have gotten a whole crate of mangoes instead of her Inuyasha manga, but the effort and the affection is there. And just like her, I’m forever grateful.
My cousin often turns to my mom, amusingly bewildered, and asks “You know about this?” when we’re tuned to the television and my mom would comment on Stranger Things, or Bill Hader, or Baby Driver. (“Type ko talaga ‘yung mga ganyan, ‘yung parang bad boy,” she said about the latter. “Kaya ko nagustuhan tatay mo, eh.”)
“Of course I do!” my mom would say. With an awkwardly long Z-snap, she would finish with, “I’m a cool mom.”
And I would laugh, because she’s being ironic. But I would never dream of objecting, because I actually believe it completely. William Martinez, eat your heart out.