When my friend Kenesha texted me on Saturday — “wait is paul walker dead?!” — I had to Google his name. I soon learned I was alone in my confusion. Over the course of the next two days, nearly every heterosexual woman in my life mentioned the death of the Fast and the Furious actor. They were low-level distraught, as if they’d lost a distant cousin or ex-boyfriend from way back, but their sadness was palpable. At brunch on Sunday, my friend Nikki gasped and shushed me when I said in a normal speaking voice, "I don't care about Paul Walker." My Facebook feed was flooded with Paul Walker R.I.P. posts, frowny faces peppering the comments beneath.
Were my friends all secret fans of his plotless action movie franchise? “No,” Kenesha said to me, "but I loved him in The Skulls." She was only half-joking. And that’s when I understood that women’s grief over Paul Walker, much like the mourning of Heath Ledger, is really about losing some part of our teenage selves. I failed to join the mournful chorus for Paul Walker because I’d never crushed on him during high school. He wasn’t my type. I was a nerdy, sarcastic girl who actively chose not to develop crushes on fresh-faced, handsome male celebrities who resembled my real-life tormentors. When Heath Ledger died in 2008 and I confessed I didn't care, friend after friend replied, "Whaaaat?! What about 10 Things I Hate About Youuuu?” I explained that didn’t see that movie until after college, right around the time Brokeback Mountain came out. Heath was not active in my early sexual imagination.