When I was 12, I spent my summer mornings doing what my parents didn’t want me to do: waited for them to leave for work, made a huge bowl of sugary cereal, blasted the AC, and watched reruns of my favorite teen drama, Dawson's Creek. It was 2004, and the series had ended the year before, successfully delivering 6 seasons and 128 episodes of delicious teen angst, sexual tension, and New England coastal charm. They also gave us Pacey Witter. More specifically, they gave me Pacey Witter, Dawson’s goofy and charming best friend, played by Joshua Jackson, who may take out a restraining order on me by the end of this post.
Dressed in Hawaiian shirts and cargo pants with large pockets, with light brown curls resting above his bright blue eyes, I was hopelessly captivated by the boyish charisma of Pacey. I dutifully watched the reruns on TNT and carefully followed the season 1 plot, where Pacey begins a flirtation with his young, attractive teacher, Ms. Jacobs. When she tries to stop their heightening sexual tension, Pacey looks at her straight in the eye, and confidently says “I’m the best sex you’ll never have.” Then, naturally, they have sex.
When I heard him say that fateful line, I felt the hairs stick up on my arms, while my stomach did a hard flip, practically knocking me over. It was like I was on Excalibur, the largest wooden rollercoaster in Maine, my adrenaline rushing, heart pounding, and legs slowly morphing into jelly. I remember looking around, almost worried I would be caught in this extreme moment of pure, unfiltered horniness. Also, it felt like maybe I had to pee?
Throughout that summer, it physically hurt that I was not dating Pacey Witter, a completely fictional character who lived on an imaginary version of Cape Cod. I would Google photos, reviewing stills of him sitting in the sand against a rowboat, and dream about our perfect life, filled with beach strolls and clam cakes and sex, probably, because at some point, sex is something that I would do, right? I’m almost 100% certain I kissed an inanimate object, perhaps something of the pillow variety, pretending it was him. My first real kiss wouldn’t come until one summer later, although it did take place on a beach.
I was simply smitten for Pacey, my hormones bouncing off the walls of my long, awkward frame, not entirely sure where they should go. My sexual awakening, hitting right in my puberty sweet spot, ignited a desire to do and feel things that I had never done before, and certainly wasn’t emotionally or physically prepared to do. It fueled my imagination, and introduced me to a feeling that I would confuse as genuine love and intimate feelings, for a person who I knew didn’t actually exist. Sometimes I felt sad, knowing I would never meet Pacey, and most likely never cross paths with Joshua. But no matter what, I still had my Dawson’s reruns (as long as my parents didn’t get rid of cable).
14 years later, Joshua starred in a play on Broadway called Children of a Lesser God, and obviously, I went, as an adult who has been through puberty, is sexually active, and still very #horny4pacey. When he came on stage and I saw him in person, I was back on the rollercoaster, my stomach swan diving straight into my vagina. I was 12 years old again, and even though Joshua was playing professor James Leeds, he was Pacey. My Pace. And I’m sure he knows that even though he’s in his 40’s and starring in Broadway plays and prestige Showtime dramas, that to a special horny group, he’ll always be Pacey Witter, the complicated and sensitive sidekick who won the heart of Joey Potter, and mine in the process.
What pop culture figure was your first crush? Let us know in the comments!
Written by Kelsey Duchsense