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patrickswayzepic.jpgThe death of Patrick Swayze today at age 57 ended the life of an icon of dance, film, and teenage girls’ fantasies. And fans mourned the loss in the loving, understanding (and sometimes inappropriately joking) embrace of their larger social media family. So in lieu of a traditional “in memory of” piece, I thought I’d share some reactions from my social media sphere. (Some comments shortened for space, but spelling and grammar preserved for authenticity.)
Many noted that Swayze isn’t the first icon to pass away this year. @iaskdalice noted that “Celebrities have to stop dying. I issue a 6 month hiatus from celebrity death.” @annabroadway wrote “it has been quite the year, eh?!! Lotsa people of meaning to our generation, too.” “Sad about the passing of Patrick Swayze. His movies defined the late 80’s and early 90’s for me,” a Facebook friend wrote. Or, somewhat more succinctly, “I think a piece of my teen self just died.”


A few people reminded us that Swayze wasn’t all about Johnny Castle. “Let’s not forget Swayze’s role as Darrel Curtis in The Outsiders. ‘Ponyboy, I didn’t mean to!'” “May well have to watch Donnie Darko again tonight in tribute. Any excuse, really,” admits one new friend of mine in LA. @jrotem calls attention to “To Wong Foo,” which featured the terrifying concept of Swayze in drag. “Sure he played bad boys, but I also loved Swayze in drag as Vida Boheme!” Actress @mefranny wrote “dear patrick, i know u never loved me as much as baby, but i hope ur dancing up a storm in the sky. maybe in drag.” And at least one person remembers the miniseries that put Swayze on the TV map: @jeromesilverman tweeted that he “mourns Patrick Swayze. He was *awesome* in North and South.” @stephensilver thinks “You can tell a lot about someone by which role of his they think of first,” but the 140 character-limit prevents him from sharing his theory in depth.
Others noted all of the acting and dancing opportunities that undoubtedly await Swayze in heaven. On Twitter, actor and musician @Adambusch (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) predicted that “Jerry Orbach is waiting for you in that eternal corner.” On Facebook, another person updated with “The big Road House in the sky welcomes Dalton.” IC editor Dena Ross noted on her Facebook profile that she was “thinking about Patrick Swayze dirty dancing in heaven.” “…with Chris Farley…” I added on her page, thinking about the classic SNL sketch (which had caused Twitterer @Jonburg to write, “Remembering Patrick Swayze, the man who introduced my innocent childhood to Chippendales“).
Some people were just clueless. “I gather from various status updates that we just lost Patrick Swayze,”said one Facebooker, while another decided it was a good idea to go with “Nobody puts baby in a casket.” [When commenters protested, the poster repented and said from now on he’d stick to MJ jokes.]
For the teenage girls that many of us used to be, the loss was more personal, especially on Facebook. “I will always remember the poster of you I had on my prepubescent wall that I used to practice kissing on.” Another spoke for many love-frustrated awkward teens by saying “Rest in peace, dear Patrick Swayze. Thanks for making we ugly ducklings believe that someday, someone would come along and pull us out of the corner.” Invoking Baby’s famously plaintive expression of love for Johnny, one Facebooker wrote, “Swayze, I’m scared of never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you.”
A comedian friend of mine in LA noted that he “just did gig in Catskills last week and felt the presence of Swayze. He will be missed.” A friend in NY remembered the actor while listening to “80s hour on my radio station. Grooving with Juice Newton and the Pointer Sisters. Gonna dedicate this to Patrick Swayze and his iconic status for all Jewish girls who saw Dirty Dancing and saw a little of themselves in Baby.”
Predictably, social media users tried to out-clever each other with references to Swayze’s films, most notably, “Dirty Dancing.” “He’s like the wind,” @ariellesimone noted on Twitter, while many others played on the famous line, “nobody puts baby in a corner.” “Nobody puts baby in a corner – well, at least they didn’t when patrick was around. rip mr. swayze,” said one Facebook mourner.
I thought I was the cleverest of all, with a status update that read “carrying a watermelon of grief in my spaghetti arms.” And then I ceded my self- awarded title to another, who shared this gem: “somewhere tonight demi moore is spinning a pot. she needs help with it, but there is nobody around to guide her hands. Or is there?”
May his family take comfort in the fact that people remember him as a pivotal figure of adolescence and as integral to the popular culture fabric of their lives.
Patrick Swayze

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