Back in the late ‘90s when my peers were crushing hard on some guy named Leo, I was carrying a torch for another fox. Fittingly enough, that was his actual name: Fox. Fox Mulder, to be exact, and I was mad for him.
Mulder embodied everything that adolescent me wanted in a boyfriend: tall, dark, handsome, and witty. There was just one tiny hiccup. He wasn’t real.
Mulder, of course, is the fictional main character of The X-Files portrayed by David Duchovny, but his being fictional was only a minor detail when it came to my otherworldly obsession with him. I was so blinded by the (UFO) light that our startling age difference (22 years!) was just another hurdle I thought our love could handle. I believed.
After all, I was an X-Phile. I watched The X-Files religiously – even when it was moved from Friday nights to Sunday nights and played past my bedtime. I not only watched each episode – including the gruesomely scarring “Home” – I taped every single episode, so I could re-watch it again in my pre-Netflix, pre-DVD box set world. I covered my locker with pictures of him – and only him (I’d rip his “partner” Dana Scully off if she was in the same photo). I even wrote X-Files fan fiction in which Scully would conveniently disappear on a long vacation, while a young FBI agent that bared a striking resemblance to yours truly would somehow show up at Mulder’s basement office and batted her eyelashes more than she battled Cigarette Smoking Man. I may have been way too young for him, and probably suffering from one heck of an Electra complex, but my affection for Mulder was as real as my Tamagotchi…until it wasn’t. Like all crushes of youth, mine started fiercely (hello hormones!) and fizzled out just as quickly (Hello Ben “Armageddon” Affleck!).
I didn’t think of Mulder for many years. There had been other crushes and lovers (some real, some not). But then news of The X-Files revival hit; it was as if I had suddenly received a friend request from an ex. He was coming back into my life whether I liked it or not. I had to know if he was what I remembered from those decades before. Had it really been 13 years? (Although, let’s be real, one appearance in the ninth season doesn’t really count.) Would he still be able to capture me under his spell of sarcasm and sesame seeds? There was only one way to find out: Netflix.
Over the past few weeks, I started re-watching the entire series of The X-Files. At first, I was as skeptical as Scully. I was older and wiser now. Tall, dark and handsome don’t really cut it for me anymore. I’ve dated shorter, blonder and unconventionally attractive men before – and found love. Suffice to say, my checklist has broadened but also narrowed in scope in terms of specifics. Funny is still a must, but I require much more than that in a partner. For all his clever witticisms and penetrating stares, I was doubtful that Mulder would make the grade.
I was so wrong.
It turns out that Mulder is much more attractive to me now as an adult than he was when I was a teenager. I may have been crushing hard on Mulder as a kid, but as a grown-up I “got” him more than I ever did before. I understood how passionate he was about his work – and found it to be a huge turn-on. Sure, he was obsessive about finding the “truth” but persistence and commitment to exploring his purpose in life is sexy. I’ve dated men who had no idea what they wanted to do in their lives, which only led to more stress in our relationship, and then to our eventual breakup. With Mulder, he might know the truth, but he knows himself.
And can we discuss his vulnerability for a second? Mulder was never afraid to cry or to be held by – ugh – Scully. His ability to wear his heart on his sleeve is charming and honest, and as an expert dater, I have to say, it’s also hella refreshing – a key aspect that I was unable to recognize as a teen. Then there’s Mulder’s way with words. Granted, he wasn’t exactly spouting Shakespeare, but the words he spoke to – ugh – Scully (“You’re my one in five billion” or “You’ve kept me honest. You’ve made me a whole person. I owe you everything, Scully, and you owe me nothing”) hold so much meaning and value than any emoticon or text reading, “Netflix and chill,” ever could.
Of course the real test of compatibility is the Five Languages of Love. According to the questionnaire, I need someone who is able to show me affection, and Mulder has that in spades. Whether it’s placing his hand in the crook of –ugh – Scully’s back or caressing her hair and face, Mulder’s able to demonstrate his love full-on. It’s these nuances that I was unable to spot as a teen that reignited, and reaffirmed, my crush on this fox. Sure, his clothes are pretty much dad jeans and boring suits, but that’s an easy fix (plus he looks great in a Speedo).
Chalk it up to maturity and wisdom and knowing what I want, but the truth is out there: the Mulder that I see now is far more attractive than the one I first watched twenty years ago.
Now it’s just a matter of finding my IRL Mulder.
I want to believe he’s out there.
(Photo via FOX)