Corey Haim is dead.
He spoke openly about his drug demons, struggled for years to re-find his footing in Hollywood and looked far older than his 38 years in photos. In a way, the Internet headline seemed morbidly preordained and not at all surprising. Still, there was something so tragic about it. And all day long, my mind has been stuck on Ally Sheedy's infamous line in The Breakfast Club: When you grow up, your heart dies.
I can appreciate Brad Pitt. I think Gerard Butler is sexy. And I can even vaguely understand what women see in John Mayer. But nobody holds as much weight in my star-studded galaxy as the hunks I worshiped as an adolescent.
I was the girl who hopped off the school bus and hoped to find the latest issue of Superteen and Tiger Beat in my parents' mailbox so I could pore over details of my favorite movie and TV stars. (Ah, the pre-Internet days!). The more mousse on their hair, the better. I hung up their posters in my bedroom and committed arcane trivia to memory. I can't remember what I ate for dinner Saturday night, but I can still recall that Kirk Cameron named his pet snake Dudley after Dudley Moore, his co-star in 1987's Like Father, Like Son.
Corey Haim? Come on. He was one of the Coreys, for crying out loud! The guy was never going to win an Oscar, yet he was oh-so-dreamy with those hazel eyes and that crooked smile. He soooo deserved to date Kerry Green in Lucas (instead, she wound up with floppy-haired football jock Charlie Sheen. Exactly.) He was so cool in License to Drive too, cruising in that Cadillac with Heather Graham in the trunk (long story). And hello? Before Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson, Corey and Corey were the original brooding teen vampires (alright, vampire slayers) in The Lost Boys. Yes, his head-shot was definitely worthy of a wall space in my purple bedroom.
You can't just cut that emotional chord. Whenever I'm asked if I ever get nervous interviewing celebrities for Us Weekly, I always reply, "just the guys who I used to have a crush on." Barbara Walters? Simon Cowell? No problem. But I act like a babbling idiot if I'm even breathing the same oxygen as John Stamos in a room. I've talked to Patrick Dempsey a few times and each instance, my inner-teen is screaming, "Totally geek to totally chic!"
But for every Stamos and Dempsey (and, the ultimate stud-to-icon, Johnny Depp), there's a Brian Bloom. A Corey Parker. And -- saddest of all -- an Andrew Koenig. These are the former heartthrobs who slowly fade into obscurity. At best, they have a list of straight-to-DVD credits on their IMDB pages. At worst, they battle depression, perhaps with the cruel realization that their glory days peaked in the Reagan era. 2010 teens, after all, consider Adam Brody a relic.
And their once-devoted, screaming fans? We're all grown up too -- as much as we don't want to admit it. Sure, I enjoy a juicy episode of Gossip Girl; but, much to my dismay, I find myself relating more to the parents than to the kids. (Gulp, I just referred to them as kids.) The John Hughes tribute at the Oscars was the biggest adult gut-check of all. Some of my favorite hunks of yore stood united on that stage to memorialize the master. And they all just looked so. . . old. When did Ferris Bueller get grey hair? Was that John Bender with a goatee?
Now one is gone. Corey Haim ended up on an A&E reality show with the other Corey, a last gasp at capitalizing on his fame. It was canceled after two seasons. Then he took a full-page ad out in Variety, earnestly looking for employment. Some laughed. I felt guilty, as if my abandonment were part of the reason why he was struggling.
Today, the least I can do is write a proper eulogy. I hope Corey found happiness in his final days and took pride in his awesome '80s legacy. He will be missed -- and nobody will miss him more than 12-year-old adults everywhere.
Follow Mara Reinstein on Twitter: www.twitter.com/teenidoljunkie