That’s why they call them crushes. If they were easy, they’d call them something else. – Sixteen Candles
It’s so easy to have a crush when you’re younger. Most of the time you get to run into your Object of Desire in class, at your after-school job or at band camp. You plan your days around when you’ll run into said Object, feeling a rush whenever you’re about to see them turn the corner in the hallway – almost immediately followed by a harsh crash as soon as they’re out of earshot. And that’s when you know it’s a crush – when it hurts.
As I’ve gotten older, my crushes seem fewer and far between. Sure, I’ve come across many a cute boy as I pass through my days but it’s not the same. I’m admittedly picky, and have been called fickle by several friends but I need that head-spinny giddiness, I need that feeling in the pit of my stomach that alternates between nausea and shooting pain. Apparently, I need to indulge my masochistic side.
This lack of “real life” crushes is probably why my interest in cute boys and girls on television seems to spike once I hit my mid-twenties. Here, I get to make a date with them once a week and the let-down is when the episode is over. But I can enjoy the good parts over and over again through the glory of videotape. In real life, it’s not so easy. I’ve had countless movie star crushes in my life – some lasting mere days, others span years. I never know when one will strike, but I’ve noticed my affinity for dark-haired pale boys: Zach Braff, John Cusack, Nick Brendon, Ron Livingston, Paul Rudd. Add a good dosage of snarkiness, and I’ll melt like butter. Salted, of course.
So many people have thrown themselves into online dating, but there always seems to be something missing for me. I know what I’m attracted to, and I rarely look past that in a profile. However, as a purely two-dimensional thing, a profile can’t tell you how you’ll feel once you actually meet – that short, sarcastic dark-haired boy might look great on paper but that spark, that almost nauseating feeling in the pit of my belly isn’t there. While, for some reason, the tall, self-effacing, goofy boy down the hall makes me blush just thinking about him. And, you know, makes me sick to my stomach.
Recently, however, I’ve developed a crush on a boy who, on paper, is so not my type. There is no dark hair, no paleness, no overly cockiness and, as far as I know, he does not play bass. (I really can’t explain that one, I seem to be like a moth to a bass player’s flame.) In fact, I was so unprepared for this crush that I wasn’t even all that aware that I had one until the day before I was leaving for vacation, and I realized I had been hanging around in hopes of running into him to say goodbye. And then I noticed another tell-tale sign of my being in crush-mode: I become very sarcastic – well, more than that really, at times I’ve bordered on downright mean – and if he had pigtails, I would have yanked them near clear off his head by now.
What happened to me? When did I turn into an eight year old boy?
I’ve come to realize that the nature of having a crush isn’t all that much different from age 13 than it is at age 29. It’s not easy at either age, although I think that I’m much bolder now than I was. Then again, I’ve always been the pursuer – I’ve asked out just about every boyfriend I’ve ever had. Because I get tired of the game, of the not-knowing. It’s the not-knowing that’s yet another double-edged sword in the world of the smitten, as it both keeps the excitement of the crush going yet maintains a dull ache in your heart because you don’t know where you stand. It’s the not-knowing that morphs the eight year old boy into a 12 year old girl.
Ah yes, I think it’s virtually impossible to keep the 12 year old girl quiet when you’ve got a crush. She’s the one poking her head out of your subconscious, overanalyzing every single word that the Object of Desire does. “If he says he likes blondes with great legs, and I’m a brunette with a great rack, does that mean he’s not interested?” Or if he tells you that you look nice three days in a row – does that mean he is? You get suspicious if anyone looks at you sideways, wondering if they know that you’re smitten kitten. Because somehow, I can’t seem to shake the idea that it’s bad for the Object to know that I like them. I blame my inner 12 year old. She’s so exhausting – maybe she’s why I fall back into eight year old boy mode, at least then I get a rest from the self-doubt and mental Olympics.
And this is when I start to wonder what’s the point of it all, anyway. Because, after the initial peak, having a crush seems to be designed to deliver nothing but stress and disappointment. However, even though I know this in all the logical parts of my brain, and make all efforts to eradicate these frenetic emotions from my life – as soon as I find that I’m almost over someone, there is that little moment that spikes up my interest and I’m a giggly little girl once again. Oh, the evils of the rush of the crush. The intoxicating nature is so addictive and puts me on such a high that I tend to forget all about the side effects. Especially until the next one comes along…