I’m dreaming of my own wonder boy

Sarah James

I fell in love with Paul Pfeiffer the moment I first saw his frantic wave during the opening credits of the classic television show “The Wonder Years.” With his dark, moppy hair and oversized black plastic glasses, he was hardly the picture of an adolescent heartthrob. Often picked last for basketball teams in gym class, Paul was asthmatic and allergic to most everything. Paul was the voice of reason behind hot-headed Kevin’s impulsive actions – the perfect sidekick. Notoriously clumsy and incessantly sneezing, Paul Pfeiffer was my ideal boy.

While other girls may have doodled the more popular Kevin Arnold’s name on their notebooks, Paul would have been the object of my 13-year-old affection. If I were a member of the alternate sitcom universe, I’d like to think that Paul Pfeiffer would be my boyfriend.

During the pilot episode of The Wonder Years, Kevin and Winnie share their first kiss in Harper’s Woods. Although I am entertained by this tender moment of adolescent love, I am left wondering what Paul Pfeiffer was doing that night. I’m sure I’d have shown up on his front doorstep with a game of Monopoly and a box of Sugar Daddy Pops. We’d have played Go Fish and Old Maid until Ida Pfeiffer would insist Paul and I part.

After that, we’d have been inseparable. When his mother insisted he practice the violin, I’d scurry home for a few hours or giggle with Lisa Berlini on the telephone about Paul’s perpetually wrinkled polo shirts and pinstriped pants.

While Kevin bounced back and forth between Becky Slater and Winnie Cooper, I am fairly certain that Paul and I would remain “going steady.” On Saturday nights, we’d double-date with Kevin, provided he and Winnie were on speaking terms. We would have been the staple relationship Robert F. Kennedy Junior High needed to fully function in the sitcom realm.

I would have helped him prepare for his bar mitzvah, as I would have gone through the same process only a few months before. At the party afterward, he’d save every slow dance for me. He’d even tell the bar mitzvah band to play extra Rolling Stones songs because they’d have been our favorite band. Carla Healy would have stood on the sidelines, jealous and glaring.

His grandmother would pinch my cheeks and tell the whole family how proud she was that “her dear Pauly was dating such a nice Jewish girl.”

His father, Alvin, would have been my optometrist, fitting me with the grooviest cat-eye glasses in all of the world.

Later on, when Paul transferred to a prep school, we’d get together after school to do homework together. I’d tell him how cute he looked in his new uniform and how dumb his new nickname, “the Pfeiff,” was. When we were finished, we’d watch television on the Pfeiffers’ brand new color set, a luxury of Alvin’s lucky investment in a beachfront property.

In the final episode, it is revealed that Paul went on to attend Harvard University. I would like to think we’d have lain on the shag carpeting of his living room floor, pondering the tragic time-bound nature of our love. I couldn’t follow him to Cambridge, Mass., and we would be devastated.

In the end, we’d decide the only solution would be for me to transcend the sitcom realm into reality. I’d look at him, tears in my eyes.

“Don’t cry, Sarah,” he’d say. “We’ll always have syndication.”

Sarah James is a sophomore public relations major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].