Why do crushes get such a bad reputation? Sure, they are heart breaking, gut wrenching, and soul crushing monsters of disappointment that can make you worry about your own attractiveness and even self-worth for years, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them.
I was a late bloomer, to say the least. Sigh… let’s not even talk
about how emotionally and physically immature I was compared to my classmates. In fact most of these “crushes” I had were in high
school. This crush phase was so innocent and fruitless that it was more on par with what most girls my age went through in middle school. My kind of high school crush was more one of admiration rather than desire. I don’t even really wanted to “go out” with them. I had no idea what people did on dates. I imagined dates were a lot like “hanging out” only with hickies. I had no idea. Yes, there was one boy in particular that I guess I “desired” but even that was purely theoretical.
My first “crush” I guess was in the fourth grade. This is the first
time that I even noticed boys existed let alone had any value. I remember I liked a boy who rode my bus. I liked him because he was cute, whatever that meant, and he was smart, in all of the enrichment classes and I remember he had one of his stories posted on the teacher’s bulletin board with a big red “A+.” Perhaps that is what impressed me the most.
Junior high I barely attended and would really rather not recall a single moment of that hell. Let’s move on.
The boy I remember liking the earliest and the most after my first crush on the “A+” kid was someone in the band. We had many shared activities including choir and church. How a band geek
from church could get me so hot, I still do not know. If I were
honest with myself I believe that my fantasism for Christ was really my love for this boy.
He was like Jesus to me, and the Devil. My sin and my salvation.
He was like Jesus to me, and the Devil. My sin and my salvation.
I would lie down my life for him. Sell my soul for just a
kiss. I sought for his attention like pilgrims seek
enlightenment. Oh, how I prayed that he would just talk to me, touch me, make me real. Save me from the sin of desire. A thousand sins of the heart and in the flesh I committed alone in his name.
Every other girl I knew liked him too. He hit puberty light years
before any of the other boys. He had a hairy chest and could grow almost a full beard in the tenth grade. For some reason, my fourteen-year-old self found this irresistible. He also had nice broad shoulders and a low singing voice. He was also shorter than me. I was pretty tall, I guess I still am, but this was not a detraction. I just wanted to be near him but wanted him to not be intimidated my height (or size) and this is where I cultivated the practice of standing up straight from my torso so I’d look sophisticated (and supposedly thinner) yet I’d cock one leg out to the side and bend one knee to appear shorter. I find myself still doing this from time to time. It was won my absolutely no favors, only the left heels of my shoes wear out faster than my right.
I “loved” this boy, or as much as a one-sided teenaged love can be. He
could do no wrong, I would defend him to the death even though I knew he was, at times, unkind to other girls when he’d spurn their affection, but he never once gave me any hint that there was a even a glimmer of hope we’d ever be an item. It did kill me when he dated a neighbor of mine. She was thin, blonde, and beautiful. I could hardly blame him. I’d choose her over me too. It was hopeless, and therefore pure and untainted by experience.
To this day, almost twenty years later, I still love him. I have met
him a few times in the recent past and he still makes my heart skip a
beat. The first few minutes of even the most casual meeting I find myself finding it hard to believe. The first time I met him after a ten year absence he was with his girlfriend. She looked just like me. It
pissed me off. She was tall, dark haired, a little heavy and thick in the
thigh. We both were even had similar jobs. I felt betrayed.
All this time I loved him. I was married at the time, but still. If
I knew he were into chubby girls…. I wondered if I did have some
kind of influence on him in some way. I hope I influenced him a little
when he so impacted my young life. I still measure love and attraction
based on the model of my love for him.
When we have talked as adults in flashes I remember when my love
for him would keep me up at night exploring my body in the dark of my room feeling the delight of my body, the thrill of the thought of him mixed with Midwestern church-girl shame. But now, as adults, still knowing that “Us” will never happen, what once was love now feels more like nostalgia, He also says that I am the only girl he
“never messed up with.” He was a bit of a player for a
time. He had the kind of face and swagger that could let him get away
with it. He needs his image to remain pure in at least one girl’s
memory. It is for both our egos that we do not muddy that image with too much experience.
One of my first novel efforts was about teens growing up in an Evangelical church. He smiled shyly and asked if he was in it. I did not lie. He already knew he was. Sometimes I wonder if everything I
write is for or because of love. I asked him if he thought he would
be the villian or the hero. He said, “Why not both?”
So that is what he is. Villian, Hero, Romantic Lead, Object of Affection, the mold in which I fashion all my futures loves. And he knows it. And now the world does. And I don’t care. Never be ashamed of love. Even when you are in love all on your own. There is always something to be learned.
My other crushes were less defined at required fewer criterions.
There was the boy who played the guitar and seemed really into recycling, before it was cool.
I liked one boy in my homeroom for almost an entire afternoon because of the way his “Lollapalooza” t-shirt stretched over his broad, manly shoulders. He was on the wrestling team and played football. I am quite certain he was unaware of my existence even though he was only a locker or two down from me for seven years.
I liked one boy because he was nice during chemistry lab and we’d write up the notes for our other “partner” who totally skated by based on the notes we wrote up for him.
I remember my heart fluttering a bit when one boy was kind of being an asshole once in class, but he did it with such panache’ I couldn’t help myself.
I fell pretty hard for one troubled young man because he was wicked smart, very funny, but had a dark side that I thought I was special because I imagined I was the only one who knew.
I had crush on one boy because he had beautiful eyes and had the coolest “Luke Perry” side burns. Almost every other girl in my class would choose a certain basketball player as “the cutest boy in school”, but for me, it was ole’ blue eyes. He was also so relaxed and sure of himself. God, he was cool.
That certain basketball player never really did it for me. Don’t get
me wrong, he was beautiful. You could check off from a list of every
quality of standard of American beauty for this boy. And I’ll tell you
what; time has been good to him. But to me he was a real person. We
had some classes and certain other activities in common so he wasn’t an ethereal object like the other boys. He spoke to me and didn’t pretend like I didn’t exist. He was a really, really nice guy. In fact, if
I remember correctly, he even thought I was kind of funny and I helped him with his homework although he could totally do it on his own and he never asked.
Like the basketball player, once they talked to me, it broke the
spell. I didn’t like just their looks, obviously. Seriously, there
were no real criteria of looks although most of them were of average too very high intelligence. Dumbass “bad boys” never did it for me and they still don’t.
I really liked the idea of them. I idolized them in my head and
even some of them when I meet them as adults, except for a few noted
exceptions; they still make my heart beat a little faster. It is funny. I
have met a few of these boys as men and they will still make me blush, stammer, and get all weak in my knees just as they did back then. And let me be clear and this is not trying to be gross or anything. This blushing and stammering is not arousal at all. I really was not and AM not sexually attracted to them. I didn’t see them that way at the time and even though we are all adults, I still don’t have any feelings deeper or more substantial then admiration.
Some of them have gained thirty or forty pounds, maybe their hair is
thinning or completely gone, it doesn’t matter. My heart still races and I don’t want to look at them in their beautiful eyes for fear they will read my every thought. Of course, they are grown men now and know when a woman is attracted to them, even if it is in a girlish way. It is like I am afraid to look at them directly or it will have some kind of opposite Medusa affect and instead of turning into stone I will melt into mush. Yes, these guys still have this power over me. But really, most of them are really nice and it is me who gives them this power. They do not wield it or may even know they have been given such a power. But they could both wound and win me with a word.
Because none of these crushes have come to fruition they can remain in my memory like postcards from destinations I will never visit with a “wish you were here” inscribed across their broad manly chests encasing their un-won hearts. I find myself writing them into my stories here and there. Maybe it is so close to that person they could sue if I were to ever be published and weren’t careful to mask their identity. More often it is aspects of different guys making up a mosaic that I fashion into my own romantic interest. Maybe a character has beautiful eyes, great sideburns, a broad chest, who plays the guitar, tells jokes, and is a chemist. Who knows?
These crushes, these series of unrequited loves helped shape my idea of what
I really wanted in a man. After I had my first “real boyfriend” when I
was 19, my crush phase kind of ended. At that point, I decided I wanted
to be loved back. I decided I was worth it and pining for someone who
will never love me back and give me even a measure of my attention or devotion
is a waste of time and can be a bit demeaning. And that is okay for a
teenager. The teen years are custom designed for discouragement and humiliation.
But as an adult, I am really worth knowing and worth loving. If I am
worked up over a guy to make me melt, his heart better be melting too.