Luke Perry died and a bit of my childhood went with him

February 21, 1991

My alarm clock goes off for the third time and this time I don’t push snooze. I open my eyes and I’m staring at a poster of The Cure straight above me. My entire room is literally covered in posters wall-to-wall because my mom lets me put thumbtacks anywhere I want. The Cure, Madonna, Star Wars, 90210, Pretty in Pink, Guns N Roses, The Little Mermaid, etc etc etc.


I roll out of my flowery white daybed that I BEGGED for on my last birthday, and I step on my trundle bed that’s still out from the sleepovers I had that weekend. My covers are white eyelet because I imagine that’s the kind of bedding Molly Ringwald would have.

I put on my baggy jeans and then I spend at least five minutes folding and rolling the bottoms of them so they’re perfectly tapered and I can wear baggy socks over them. The socks are the exact same color as my baggy shirt because I fell into The Gap and bought them as a set where they pretty much only sell sweat suits and matching socks, and Banana Republic is where you go when you want something khaki, and everyone has the same Benetton shirt in one of two colors.



Mine is blue. Side note, holy smokes are the Benetton ads cool because they show people of different races standing next to each other. So risqué!

I put on my keds that I’ve decorated with paint pens and then I go into the bathroom where I quickly heat my curling iron so I can give my bangs a little curl, but not too much. I mean it’s 1991, NOT 1989.

And that’s when I remember. Awesome, it’s Thursday!!!! This means two things. A. I get to buy nachos at the snack bar for lunch, and B. 90210 is on tonight!!! I can’t wait to see if Brenda and Dylan have sex. Oh my God is Luke Perry hot. He looks just like James Dean and he’s sooo gorgeous and deep and a little poetic and I can just imagine him making me a romantic mix tape and giving it to me during first period at school and then we can sit in his car together at lunchtime and listen to it. Brenda is sooooo lucky.

I’ll definitely ask my dad to record 90210 on the VCR so my friends and I can watch it again tomorrow when everyone comes to my house for lunch because we’re seniors and we get to leave campus for lunch on Fridays. My friend Jennifer can drive us in the mustang convertible she got for her birthday and she has a stack of scrunchies on her stick shift so we can put our hair up and ride with the top down even though it’s cold out.

But that’s tomorrow. Today is the first day I’ll watch 90210 this week, and as soon as it’s over I’ll run to my room and call Misty from my swatch phone that’s clear and lights up when it rings. And we’ll use 3-way calling to call Rachel and she’ll use her 3-way to call Becky and Becky will use her 3-way to call Robyn and so on and so on and then as soon as we have a ridiculous number of people on the call and the first person can barely even hear the last person, we’ll talk allllllll about everything that happened on 90210 that night and how perfect Dylan McKay is. And at some point one of the girls will say she thinks Brandon is cute and all the other girls will be like noooo wayyyyy, EVERYONE knows that Dylan is the best.

March 4, 2019

Luke Perry has died. I’m sad. Sadder than I should be because it’s been decades since I had a crush on him. Decades since a poster of him hung in my room. Decades since I had my dad set the VCR so I could watch him twice a week, sometimes even more. Hmmm, maybe I’ll put up a little post about it on Facebook and see if anyone else is feeling the same way. So I do. And I find out that I’m not the only one who lost Luke Perry yesterday. We all did. R.I.P. Luke Perry. Saying goodbye to Dylan McKay was hard enough, but saying goodbye to Luke Perry takes it to a whole new level. 

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There are 16 comments for this article
  1. Katie McNally at 11:19 am

    OMG- this just made me well up a bit. It was a perfect way to describe explain why the news about Luke Perry was such a gut punch. I was expressly forbidden to watch 90210 in the early years but still knew who Brandon and Dylan were and had strong opinions (Dylan, always Dylan).

  2. Megan Van Peenen at 11:36 am

    You had me at Swatch phone… Oh and I shared this post on my FB page bc I think you’re my spirit animal.


  3. Melissa at 11:45 am

    I was forbidden during the early years, too! Which, is ironic because the REAL action didn’t get started until I was out of high school, lol! But I knew who the characters were (thanks to Teen Beat and the such), and as soon as I got the chance, I got all caught up and never missed a week thereafter! Glad to know I wasn’t the only one “sheltered” lol!

  4. Karen Smosarski at 11:54 am

    I’ve obviously just a tad older than you :-P, but this hit home for me too. In the 90’s I was a young, married nursing Mom and motherhood consumed my life and 90210 was my “look back” at where I’ve been and a chance to relive my high school years during those early morning nursing sessions, thinking I’m glad I’m where I am, but it sure was fun to look back at all the High School drama. And YES, I had a crush on Dylan too….

  5. Angela at 12:04 pm

    I thought about the episode where Dylan got hurt surfing and stays with the Walsh’s to recover way too much and it basically ruined all encounters I had with boys as a teenager. Dylan was the best. This is a hard loss.

  6. Jaimie at 12:13 pm

    OMG. This was legit my life when 90210 was on TV! As sad as losing Luke Perry has been, I think it’s made a little easier knowing I’m definitely not alone. Thank you for this!

  7. Jaimie at 12:18 pm

    OMG! With the ace bandage around his ribs, no shirt and PJ bottoms sleeping on their couch?? Seriously, that image is etched in my memory forever!

  8. Jaimie at 12:20 pm

    I think the only reason I wasn’t forbidden from watching it is bc my mom had no idea what was happening on that show. I was their age so it was real time for me. And no one, absolutely no one, measure up to Dylan McKay.

  9. Dee at 12:28 pm

    This show was my keyhole into subjects that were not talked about in my home…s*x…teen pregnancy…drinking….drugs, etc. It gave me a an hour a week to connect to what was going on in my world outside of my home. It helped me feel connected to my American life while still keeping true to my Latina roots and culture. Thank you 90210 for answering so many questions and presenting hard to face realities that I was too afraid or embarrassed to ask my parents about. And Dylan, I hope you get to ride the most beautiful wave into that great big ocean in the sky. Ride free.

  10. Jen at 1:04 pm

    a lil bit younger but still all the feels….glad to know my preteen self was cool enough to decorate like a “real” teenager LOL…90210 started when I turned 10 and ended when I was 20. They gave me the imaginary high school life to dream about and the boys to lust after (I was an all-girls school dreamer). While I was Team Brandon, I did cry way harder than I should have when Dylan McKay died yesterday because yes…his death took a part of my adolescence with him. But at least there’s apparently enough of us out here for a support group..

  11. Cristal at 4:57 pm

    I told my husband I was sad when I heard he passed but couldn’t explain exactly why but you’ve described it perfectly. I had such a major crush on Luke Perry and yes Dylan was perfect .I had a thing for bad boys and he was just bad enough your parents might not like you hanging out with him but not so bad they forbid you to hang out with him. I watched the first season of Riverdale and it was nice being able to see him on TV again. He seems way too young to have died so soon.

  12. Madeline at 6:23 pm

    We were in our early 20’s and from New Orleans. We all gathered at a friends house every Thursday to watch before we would go out clubbing .. faithfully watching 90210 RIP Luke Perry

  13. Monica at 9:12 pm

    Wow… this articulated my thoughts way better than I could. When I saw that he had passed, I was actually a bit surprised by the level of sadness I felt. I rarely feel the passing of a celebrity in my gut but this one took my breath away. I had such a wicked crush on Luke Perry back in the day and was definitely Team Dylan -he was just so… suave, so swoony. Over the years I’d see Luke Perry on a show or in a movie and , I’ll admit, I felt those butterflies for just a brief nostalgic moment. Losing him yesterday felt like I was lost a piece of my adolescence. My heart goes out to his family.

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