By PATRICK DOUGLAS

Long before I met my future wife, I was like any normal high school kid with a huge autograph collection and the occasional crush on a celebrity.

While 99.9 percent of my signatures were comprised of professional athletes and movie stars, there was room for one that had nothing to do with talent.

When I first brought Jessica, who became my wife years later, to my house, the very first thing she noted was the framed autograph hanging next to the television in my room.

She wasn’t interested in my Barry Sanders or O.J. Simpson or even Magic Johnson signed photos, rather the one signed magazine clipping of Cindy Crawford pasted next to a racy Rolling Stone cover.

It didn’t take long—only a few trips over to the house—for her to begin negatively commenting on the photo, and it was quickly taken off of the nail and put away for my own piece of mind.

Eventually, my Cindy Crawford personalized autograph was taken out of the frame all together and stored for good. I figured it was wiser to bury it than to keep it in the open where it could mysteriously disappear. It wasn’t that big of a loss considering that I grew older and my childhood crush had faded before I even met my wife.

I was reminded of it recently while sifting through a box of old newspapers and miscellaneous, signed magazine clippings I had acquired. It was at least 13 years since I last saw it, and I must admit I got a chuckle out of finding the picture. My wife still hates the fact that I once liked Cindy Crawford, so to even mention the name around her results in a pretty steady glare.

The only other autograph I’ve had as a youth based solely on someone’s looks is a little bit more embarrassing to admit. It occurred when I was offered a Beverly Hills 90210 card signed by Tori Spelling in exchange for working at a card shop for a day. When you’re 16 years old, it seems a signature of someone you’re smitten by is worth more than money itself.

I wasn’t forced to bury that autograph because my wife just teased me unmercifully for having it in the first place. In fact, I ended up willingly filing it in a box of football cards just so it would never accidentally rear its ugly head and conjure the heckles. I guess there are certain levels of jealousy when it comes to autographed memorabilia.

Let’s face it, the reason for collecting autographs is to somehow get closer to the person behind the ink, whether it be a Hall of Fame quarterback, Oscar-winning actor, legendary guitarist or someone who looks good in a swimsuit.

It’s only when that signature conflicts with a potential relationship that it becomes “me or the autograph.” Consider this a word of advice to all kids out there, boys or girls, who feel their lives are complete with a signature of a celebrity crush: It really won’t be. By the time you’re married and have kids, it’s probably not going to still be hanging on your wall or taking up the important piece of wall real estate above the fireplace.

I can honestly say that I’m not disappointed to have disposed of my Crawford signature in its time capsule. I am glad that I didn’t completely destroy it because it’s a funny reminder of one of the first road blocks my wife and I faced in our fledgling relationship.

I’m just glad she didn’t have the same bitterness toward John Elway. Then, we might have had a problem.